Carol Heppenstall says goodbye

Carol Heppenstall Adventure Canada


There are some things in life that are harder to accomplish than others. For me, telling Adventure Canada that I was retiring was one of those.

I have just passed my seventy-first Birthday and after twenty-two wonderful years of adventure, it’s time to pass the baton (or Wellies) to the next generation of art and culture lovers.

I joined the company because I wanted to share the arts of our Inuit and First Nations people. As an art historian, I believe the best way to understand a culture is through its artistic expression. When I joined Adventure Canada, we had three staff, most brochures were xeroxed, and we designed and went on all the trips. I can’t describe how exciting it was and what a privilege it has been. The Swans are like family—I’ve watched Cedar, Alana, and Matthew James grow up and seen their addiction to travel develop alongside their keen sense of humanity. Of course, they come by it naturally with June as their incredibly talented mother, Matthew, their wise (and most often, goofy) father, and a host of relatives who were always on hand with advice and support.

The resource staff that I was privileged to work with were extraordinary in every way. Names like Beedell, Catt, Houston, Peters, Reid, McGoogan, St.-Onge, Thomson,
and Tamblyn are award-winning Canadians—but I am pleased to call them my friends. Our special guests over the years exposed us all to a world of wonder, often sitting next to us in a Zodiac! Names like Davidson, Suzuki, Bateman, Piqtoukun, Ashevak, McCarthy, Lopez, Hallenday and Atwood come to mind, but there were so many others.

Perhaps the greatest rewards were travelling with friends and clients and sharing the landscapes of those “empty” places, as Matt likes to call them. As we soon discovered, they were, in fact, filled with the most generous and resourceful people we are likely to encounter. What memories! What photographs!

Back in Mississauga is a core of committed people who have made my life of adventure so easy. Laura Jane, and later Loretta, Sheryl, and Clayton have been with me a long time—but Judy was my go-to gal who held all of my endeavours together. Without her, my dreams would never have fit the schedule or happened on time. Thanks to all of you for your loyalty and good humour.

I have retired to Santa Fe, got a dog and and named him Bodhi, and yoga classes are my adventures these days. Life is rich and fulfilling; I see my children often, and get to my cottage on Lake Winnipeg every spring. Travel is not a priority these days, but don’t be surprised to see me now and again. I long for the exquisite opportunities of travel … and Adventure Canada does it best.

Yours in adventure,


16 thoughts on “Carol Heppenstall says goodbye

  1. Dear Carol, Happy Retirement!! Please do keep in touch, and hopefully your travels will bring you back to Toronto and Port Credit – we would love a visit.
    All the best in your new adventure :)

  2. Congratulations Carol.. However, you will be missed a lot…. Your dedication, energy and enthusiasm sharing the arts of our Inuit and First Nations people have been infectious. You have moved and inspired me over the years and I know countless others :) Enjoy your retirement! Sheryl

  3. Hello dear Carol,
    Such a beautiful heartfelt letter! You are a very special lady, Carol, and it has been my privilege and honour to have worked with you, and to call you my friend.
    Thank you too for your very kind words.
    I wish you ‘Happy Retirement’! You have well earned it and are just onto the next part of your life’s journey! Bodhi will add another dimension to that journey, Carol, one that will enrich it immensely, I think.
    Take care and indeed I hope you will find your way to our neck of the woods one of these fine days, or ours to yours! Love you, Carol. Judy

  4. Carol – I travelled on the West Coast Voyage in May 1996 and we gathered at the home of my brother, Bill Swan’s, in-laws, Peter & Sheila Candy, in West Vancouver for the evening prior to departing on the Yorktown Clipper. On the ship, I remember you as the “early morning riser”. Your letter was written from the heart, so good luck Carol in your retirement.

  5. Dear Carol,
    My one regret now I am back in the UK, is that I never travelled with you. But we have met. I bought a fishman from you……it was a small piece. Yes, you introduced me to a sculpture of David Ruben. After that, I looked for his work and I now own some larger pieces of his work. They are now on display in the UK . So thank you for that and maybe one day I will make it to Santa Fe. You may retire from Adventure Canada but will in always be in your blood.
    Happy retirement.
    Janet King.

  6. Dear Carol,
    You took us to Igloolik, in January, for the Return of the Sun Festival. You showed us the quintessential spirit of the Arctic during those dark, winter months. You connected us with the women in the ceremonial igloos, and they invited us to stay the night. And you took us to the crest of the hill the day that first shimmer of light peeked over the horizon.
    For the many times that I have been to the Canadian Arctic, that trip was one of the most lasting experiences of my life. Now it’s your turn to enjoy your place in the sun! Thank you and happy retirement. Barbara

  7. My dear friend Carol….your picture is radiant so you still have it !! You and the Arctic have always warmed my heart…I wanted to go to the polar ice but didn’t know how so you took me there…many times…thanks…..and even also to visit my hero Agnes Martin…We are OK here but my darling dog Sam is blind so I do seeing eye. …a hug to Bodhi . Ok mani padme om . XOXODiana

  8. While we did not meet you on our Northwest Passage voyage in 2010, we do go to Santa Fe frequently for month long stays and would enjoy meeting you there and sharing experiences with AC. We loved our trip for all the reasons you mention above and we are still in contact with John Houston who participated in an adult education program we developed based on our trip. The AC office would have our email and P.O. address, and we hope we can get together sometime.
    Enjoy Santa Fe and all its warmth and color and culture. Mary Rohr, Hanover, NH

  9. Carol- It was a pleasure to know you. A super person!
    Good luck in Santa Fe. Better crank up the air conditioning!

  10. Carol, I know how difficult it was when I had to say I cannot do this anymore. It was a great pleasure and an honour to have had the privilege of travelling with you.

  11. Dear Carol, I was fortunate to travel with you on the 2011 Heart of the Arctic adventure. It was such a wonderful experience, discovering Inuit culture, and enriched by your inspiring talks, and guidance onshore. Enjoy your well-earned retirement!

  12. Dear Carol,
    You gave me a day I’ll never forget. I see you sparkling on deck as our little sailboat heads into the Pacific after visiting an Haida Gwaii island. Do you remember? Our sweet young man hoisted all sails, cut the engine, and let the wind take us out into the blue, with albatross and porpoises leaping, puffins and gulls swooping. Pure magic.
    May all your days be filled with such joy.
    Very best wishes,
    Janet and John Blachford.

  13. Hi Carol,
    It has been several years now since we met you on the Heart of The Arctic trip and just before your move South. We have such fond memories, particularly the very personal touches given by you and the other staff on the trip. We wish you the best in your retirement. It is a very beautiful time of life. May you have many years of joy and good health.
    Sincerely, Gerry and Joanie Cotter, Squamish, BC

  14. I’m sorry to hear you are leaving. I look back with great fondness on both my interaction with you in your Philadelphia gallery and with you on the two trips- Baffin Island , Baker Lake- I took with you and Adventure Canada. I learned a great deal, expanded my horizons.

    All the best.

    Evelyn Sabino

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