Marcel Grimard wins Mono hiking challenge grand prize

December 7, 2017   ·   0 Comments

Special to the Citizen

When Marcel Grimard received a phone call informing him that he had won the Grand Prize in the Mono hiking challenge, he could hardly believe his good fortune.

Marcel, an aircraft mechanic who lives in Orangeville with his wife Diane, had no idea he would end up the winner of a $7,600 adventure trip for two, to Norman Wells NWT, when he first entered the Challenge.

Not currently a member of any organized hiking group, such as the Bruce Trail Association, Marcel just enjoys being in the outdoors and frequently hikes with his niece, Heather Platt, an avid hiker and outdoors enthusiast.

Diane Grimard, on the other hand, takes a more relaxed approach to her outdoor adventures and prefers her hikes to be less strenuous and more about relaxing and enjoying being out in nature and the fresh air.

Diane explained that it will be Heather  who will accompany her now favourite uncle to Norman Wells next summer. That was always the plan should one of them win the grand prize.

Marcel, as did several other entrants, completed all 20 of the Mono hikes, but he was nevertheless still very surprised to hear from Mono’s recreation director, Kim Perryman, that he was the Grand Prize winner. Especially so because it was determined totally by a random draw, based on the number of hikes you completed.

Each entrant was awarded one chance in the draw for each hike completed. So even though he achieved 20 entries, there were still a lot of other names in the pot.

Needless to say, Marcel was a bit overwhelmed when he first heard the news, but regardless, he is excited to plan his winning trip and to venture into a true Canadian wilderness experience.

Although Marcel has been to the far north before, this will be his first trip to the Norman Wells area and into the wilderness beyond.

When Ms. Perryman and her staff were preparing their budget figures in the fall of 2016, little did they realize that what started as an idea to promote hiking on the numerous Mono trails, for a Canada 150 project, would result in a major contest, with considerable community support and a $7,600.00 Grand Prize for the winner.

With the help of the Town’s then web designer, Fred Simpson, the Mono Hiking Challenge began to take shape and was launched last June. However, before it even got off the planning board, Fred suggested to Kim that what it really needed was to be bigger and to make it truly unique, to include a spectacular grand prize. That was when Kim enlisted the help of Al Pace, renowned Mono potter and founder of Canoe North Adventures, with partner Lin Ward. Canoe North provides dramatic wilderness adventures in Canada’s far north, from their lodge in Norman Wells, and hiking ian the Franklin and Mackenzie Mountains is one of the adventures they offer.

Al, whose Cafe and Gallery on Hockley Road is a popular starting point for local Bruce Trail hikers, was immediately onboard, seeing this as an opportunity to promote tourism and hiking in the area and to use local businesses as points of interest for the hiking challenge participants.

Al and Lin stepped up with the amazing prize, an all-inclusive, week-long hiking vacation at their lodge, in Norman Wells. For them, it was a chance to participation Mono’s Canada 150 celebrations and to use their role as community leaders to give back to the community and it all was happening on their home turf!

It was also going to be a unique opportunity for the winner since, as no one had any idea of who would win, or their level of experience and fitness, Al would have to design the trip around the winner, offering a customized program geared to their needs and expectations. Day hikes, perhaps an overnight, or even longer journey, even a canoe adventure, could be part of the eventual itinerary.

With the Grand Prize established, Kim, Fred, and the Mono Recreation staff planned out the rest and many local businesses agreed to offer interim prizes, such as dinners out, to be awarded, throughout the duration of the Challenge, at Mono Council meetings. Overall, the Challenge was so well received that Council and staff may be deluged with questions about what is next for the community.

There were two significant participation numbers surrounding this challenge, one which no one wanted to see and one which no one expected to see. Mayor Laura Ryan agreed that had only 150 hikes been completed, it would have been disappointing after everyone’s hard work, albeit demonstrative of the Canada 150.

However, Mayor Ryan could never have expected that the total number of hikes would end up at 2017, from  381 participants, for a total of 9,443.1 kilometres – fortuitous serendipity for certain, but the Mayor was happy to take it.

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