2019 NOTO Awards

Wednesday Dec 11, 2019

Author: NOTO

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The 2019 NOTO Awards go to...

The NOTO awards were created to acknowledge the people who make Ontario's tourism industry so vibrant. The awards are presented every year to members who have gone above and beyond to improve both the natural and working environment, and/or tourism as a whole. 

  • President's Award – Rick Dickson, Dickson's Bear Hunts

The NOTO President’s award is given to an individual who has contributed significantly to the tourism environment through individual effort and dedication. This year NOTO President, Hilary Chambers presented this award to Rick Dickson of Dickson’s Bear Hunts.

Rick has served the last two years on the NOTO Board as a Director. He has gone over and above his required duties by assisting the Executive Director on a number of lobbying files.The most notable being the bear hunt files. Rick worked with Laurie Marcil to facilitate discussions with bear outfitters, resident hunting organizations, and Government and was a great asset to those discussions. With his support, we have made great strides with the 200m bear baiting restrictions as well as bear allocation and bear management area discussions.

Another file that was advanced due to Rick’s involvement was the revisions to MNRF’s Commercial Outpost Camp Operational Bulletin. With his guidance and support, we were successful in proposing revisions to an outdated MNRF internal document regarding commercial outpost camps and land use permits. In addition to his time and participation in discussions, he attended several meetings in Toronto with our Executive Director at his own costs and he generously contributed his own money towards covering the costs of our lobby consultants for a number of months.

His financial contributions and dedication to not only the organization but the industry at large have been immense. We look forward to continuing our work with Rick, but it was important that we let him know now just how appreciative we all are for his efforts.

  • Executive Director’s Award – Bob Garson (Garson's Fly-in Outposts)

2019 Executive Director's Award winner Bob Garson of Garson's Fly-In OutpostsThe recipient of this award is chosen by the Executive Director and awarded to a person who has made a significant contribution to the association. This year, Laurie Marcil, Executive Director of NOTO presented her award to Bob Garson of Garson's Fly-In Outposts.

Bob has been in the tourism industry for 32 years in the Algoma region, initially as a bushpilot supporting tourism operators and in 2002 purchased his own remote fly-in tourism business. He has always been a strong advocate for tourism and outdoor recreation. He makes every effort to reach out to operators in his area to gain their perspectives and to unite people on issues of concern.

Bob first put his name forward to gain a seat on the NOTO Board of Directors in 2002, his first year in business. He has served on the Board since that time including a term as President from 2013 to 2014. Bob’s 17 years on the Board has been tremendously helpful. His tireless efforts to bring forward information from the industry has been instrumental in assisting the Board and staff develop practical solutions to bring to Government. His work to help improve the lives of tourism business owners is to be commended.

Even when he was faced with cancer, he remained dedicated to his work with NOTO on behalf of the industry. We are thankful that he is here with us today.

In addition to his dedication to tourism, Bob was a member of Canada’s Military for 38 years. He retired in July of 2019. Some notable achievements during his military career were the completion of the Special Service Force Iron Man in 1993 and receiving the Area Support Commander’s Coin in 2010. Bob was a Reservist for 37 years and 10 months with both full time and part time service.

But above all of this, Bob is a dedicated husband to Andrea, father to Dylon and dog owner to Otter. It is with great honor that we present this award to Bob Garson for his many years of service to his Country and to the tourism industry in Northern Ontario. 

  • Preferred Supplier of the Year Award – The SAM Group

2019 Preferred Supplier of The Year, The SAM GroupThis award is presented to a NOTO Preferred Supplier in recognition of their dedication, support and participation in furthering the goals and objectives of Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario.

The 2019 Preferred Supplier of The Year was presented by Bob Garson (right) to The SAM Group. We were pleased to have Ed Longpre (left) accept the award on behalf of Steve Maher the owner of The SAM Group.

The SAM Group is a 3rd generation family run business that provides clothing and other promotional items to businesses across Ontario. Many of you have had the pleasure of knowing Steve Maher the 2nd generation owner who is still heavily involved in the business today.

The history of The SAM Group’s support for NOTO dates back to Steve’s time on the road when the company was called D.A. Maher in the early 1980’s. As he travelled from lodge to lodge across the North he was encouraged to join NOTO and get involved and that he did. Over the next several years Steve became a regular NOTO Convention goer and developed great relationships with many of our tourism operators and a keen interest in the issues impacting our industry. Steve became a member of the NOTO Board as the Allied President and remained in that position for 8 years.

The SAM Group has been a long-standing sponsor of the delegate bags at the NOTO Conventions and this Summit up until this year. They are also NOTO’s partner in the Keep Calm and Head North T-shirt fundraising campaign. 

  • NOTO Environmental Stewardship Award – Chris Pieters, Avalon Eco Resort

2019 Environmental Stewardship Award winner Avalon Eco ResortThis award is presented in conjunction with Canadian Shield Consultants Agency to a NOTO member who has shown responsible use and protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices. This award is sponsored by Canadian Shield Consultants who presents the winner with a certificate of recognition and cheque for $1,000.

This year the Environmental Stewardship Award was presented to Chris Pieters, owner of Avalon Eco Resort (right) by Gerry Dignard of Canadian Shield Consultants Agency, Inc.(left).

Avalon Eco Resort is an off-grid resort which relies on renewable energy for the day-today operations of their business and home. They primarily use solar energy and they are in the process of repositioning their wind turbine to provide energy on cloudy days. The resort is also fitted with energy star appliances and low-flow shower heads and toilets.

Avalon Eco Resort has taken several steps to mitigate their carbon footprint: they have switched to a manual push mower for their lawn maintenance and properly plan their trips to the city to pick up supplies, rather than going into town for one or two items. They are also looking into reducing their propane usage by switching to efficient heaters and non-piolet light stoves. In terms of blue-green algae consciousness, Avalon Eco Resort uses eco friendly and/or phosphate-free detergents and cleaning products and refuse to use any phosphorus rich fertilizers. They regularly inspect their septic system and maintain it on an as-needed basis.

A recent addition to the resort is the BioLet composting toilet. All cabins are outfitted with a garbage can, compost bin, and a recycling container. They inspect all of the containers prior to their waste disposal runs to ensure that the waste is properly disposed of and to ensure that hazardous materials don’t end up in the landfill.

In their welcome speech to guests, they encourage simple things like turning off the lights and turning off the heat and encourage conservation practices during their stay. They also encourage the use of canoe and kayaks to minimize environmental impact. The combination of eco-friendly cleaning products, a properly functioning septic system, proper waste management, proper shoreline maintenance & erosion protection, and a reduced use of non-renewable energy ensures that their watershed is protected. Avalon Eco Resort’s goal is to consume less and enjoy more of what Canada, especially Tyson Lake in Killarney, has to offer. 

  • Tourism Champion Award – Joe Ott, French River Lodge

2019 Tourism Champion, Joe Ott, French River LodgeThe Tourism Champion Award is presented to a person who supports a strong and united tourism industry. A person who sees tourism in a much larger picture than their own specific businessor role they play. They are dedicated to spreading the word about the value tourism to people locally, provincially, nationally, and/or globally. 

For his accomplishments in his 31 years in the tourism industry, this year’s Tourism Champion is Joe Ott, owner of French River Lodge. Joe and his wife Ann purchased French River Lodge in 1988 and have been NOTO members ever since. 

In 1990-91, Joe joined the Rainbow Country Travel Association representing the French River Resorts Association. He took on the position of Treasurer in 2000 and served in this position until Rainbow Country Travel Association amalgamated to form Northeastern Ontario Tourism in 2013. 

In the mid 1990s, Joe was a key player in forming an alliance between businesses and cottagers in his area. This alliance is known as the French River Delta Group and still exists today. One of the group’s first initiatives was the purchase of a defibrillator to share amongst the community. Joe completed the first alert course to assist with emergency health situations. Joe also took on the position of Treasurer for the French River Resorts Association in 2000 and served until 2017 when he resigned due to health issues. And last but not least, one of Joe’s prized accomplishments was completed in 2007 when he “went green”. French River Lodge was one of the first lodges to tap into the Northern Energy Program offered by NOHFC at which time he successfully installed a battery/inverter setup to initiate solar power. 

Joe has been and will remain a strong advocate, promoter of the tourism industry. His strength has always been his infectious spirit of collaboration. We thank Joe for all he has done to better tourism in the French River area. 

Joe was unable to join us at the Summit this year but we were pleased that Sue Crane was able to make the presentation to Joe at his home in the French River. (see photo).

  • Bob Giles Award – Guy Lamarche, Tourism Timmins

2019 Bob Giles Award winner Guy Lamarche, Tourism TimminsThe Bob Giles Award has been presented annually since 1977 to a NOTO Member in recognition of outstanding performance in the Northern Ontario tourism industry.

Laurie Marcil, Executive Director was pleased to present the 2019 Bob Giles Award to Guy Lamarche of Tourism Timmins at the 2019 Northern Ontario Tourism Summit.

Guy Lamarche has been an exemplary leader in tourism through his work of promoting and demonstrating all the possibilities Northern Ontario has to offer to individuals across the globe. Guy acknowledges the untapped potential the pristine north has to offer to adventure seeking travelers who look for unique experiences.

He has held several positions over his 40 years in tourism. His progressive proactive leadership style has been of great benefit to the Northern Ontario tourism industry. His support of NOTO and the other tourism organizations that exist to support the needs of tourism operators across the North has been much appreciated. It’s very clear to all that Guy is very compassionate and enthusiastic about his work and has positively impacted tourism in Northeastern Ontario. No matter which position Guy was holding at the time, he would renew his membership and spread the word of all the hard work NOTO has done on behalf of the industry to individuals across the North. 

Over the years, Guy has worked closely with all levels of government, business stakeholders and many First Nation communities.  He has built an extensive network of business minded people and is very well known in the North. Guy has always believed in the strength of partnerships and realizes it is much easier to manage risk if all the partners are at the table. When Guy was the Executive Director of the James Bay Frontier Travel Association, he was always quick to jump in and help out at the NOTO Conventions on our fun nights. He and the other NORTAS like Ted Day and Ian McMillan would put on their aprons and jump right in to flip burgers and dogs to feed hundreds of hungry attendees. All the way, smiling and carrying on.

Guy has sat on several advisory and working committees and has taken the roll of chair on several of them, has been a member of various organizations, and is currently the President of Northeastern Ontario Tourism, Attractions Ontario and a member of the Ontario Marketing Partnership Program Northern Committee. Guy is also the chair of the Northern Ontario Tourism Summit working committee. Guy’s leadership on all of these Boards and Committees continues to help shape the future of how we in the tourism industry work together to get things done. We all have much to learn from his positive collaborative approach. 

Just a few of the highlights from Guy’s current work with the City of Timmins include revitalizing the City of Timmins’ tourism program and leading the way for many of Timmins’ now iconic festivals such as the Great Canadian Kayak Challenge, the Summer Concert Series, Stars and Thunder International Fireworks Competition and Music Festival. As a result of increased assets and an improved appetite for festivals in the North, other iconic events and festivals are now taking place in Timmins such as Rock on the River, Snowcross, and the Fall Fair. 

Guy Lamarche has proven that effective partnering of resources such as a dedicated staff, valued industry partners, government and stakeholders has served and will continue to serve, the tourism industry, all while supporting the community and region.


Congratulations to all of the award recipients
and THANK YOU all for your continued support!


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