Holland College Blog

News and views from around the college

Posts Tagged ‘Prince Edward Island

Holland College student trades hockey stick for paint brush

with one comment

DylanThree years ago, Dylan McQuaid’s résumé would have led one to expect that the 20-year-old would pursue a career in business or sports. After several years of playing hockey, the last three in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League and the Island Junior Hockey League, he seemed destined to follow the path of many other former hockey players into the business side of sports. But a combination of circumstances changed his path.

“I started drawing again to distract from the stresses of hockey, which shifted my focus as my hockey career was winding down. At the same time, I noticed that something wasn’t right with my health, including rapid weight loss and fatigue, along with other symptoms,” he recalls.

Following a series of tests, Dylan was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. The diagnosis further sharpened his focus.

“It put things into perspective for me. I thought, nothing’s a given, so I should go after what I want,” he says.

“My aunt was a graphic designer, and she suggested I check out the Graphic Design program at Holland College.”

After investigating his options, he decided to take the college’s one-year Fundamental Arts program before going into the two-year Graphic Design program.

“I didn’t have much confidence,” he explains, “so the Fundamental Arts program helped me to prepare for the Graphic Design program, including helping me develop an understanding of industry terminology.”

Over his three years at Holland College, he demonstrated the characteristics that lead to a successful college experience, and a successful career, and earned him the Governor General’s medal when he graduated last spring.

In addition to his exemplary work ethic and keen design sense, Dylan has a strong belief in community involvement. He participated in many worthwhile causes during his time at Holland College, and even garnered Most Dedicated Player and Hurricanes Scholar-Athlete awards for his role in the Holland College Hurricanes Men’s Baseball team.

Recently, he was named the regional winner in BMO’s Invitational Student Art Competition, winning $5,000 and a trip to Toronto for the opening of a display of the winning works from across the country.

He did his on the job training at Carta Worldwide, a payments processing company, and now has a full-time job as a graphic designer in their Charlottetown office.

“I enjoy working at Carta Worldwide, and I’m strengthening my skills there. Eventually, I’d like to move elsewhere and work at a design firm and continue to learn and improve my design skills.”



Written by Sara Underwood

November 21, 2016 at 9:28 am

Golf Club Management grad leaves the ice to hit the greens

with one comment


resize of James

James, behind the counter at the Bell Bay Golf Club pro shop.

Many kids dream of playing professional hockey and making it in the big leagues. They spend countless hours at the rink perfecting their skills, and for some of them, the hard work pays off. But what happens when injuries sideline a promising career?

James Sanford can tell you. Over the course of his 14-year career, he played in several leagues, including the American Hockey League, British Elite Ice Hockey League, Central Hockey League, ECHL, Federal Hockey League (winning a championship with the Danbury Whalers), Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey,  and in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he played for the Victoriaville Tigres and his hometown team, the Moncton Wildcats. He was also a defenseman on Canada’s under 18 team 2002.

But his aspirations of playing in the NHL, seemingly so close to being realized, ended when he sustained a herniated disk in his neck and had to undergo extensive surgery. At that point, he returned home to New Brunswick.

“For the next two years I did dead-end jobs,” he recalled in a recent interview. “You live a certain lifestyle as a hockey player. It’s your whole life. You’re with the same 20 guys every day, so it takes a big adjustment to get acclimated to being back in the regular world.”

Realizing that he was going to have to return to school if he wanted to improve his career options, he decided to apply to the two-year Golf Club Management program at Holland College.

“I always thought that I would like to be a golf pro when I retired from hockey, and I had some friends who had gone through the program.”

The golf program gave him the kind of focus he hadn’t had since quitting hockey, but the adjustment wasn’t easy.

“As a hockey player, you get instant approval and gratification from the crowd; when you get out in the real world, you don’t get that very often.”

Jeff Donovan, James’s instructor for the last two years, said James overcame his reticence early on, and his confidence improved as he developed his skills.

“Sometimes it’s a little harder for people coming back to school when they’re a little older, especially if they have already had a career and are retraining; but James, who was 30 when he came into the program, settled in quite quickly.”

James graduated from the Golf Club Management program this spring and is working at the Bell Bay Golf Club in Baddeck, Cape Breton for the summer. Cape Breton’s golf courses are drawing international attention, making the region the fastest growing golf destination in the world.

“I’m the assistant pro, so I’m responsible for overseeing the golf academy’s programs and the pro shop. I teach, as well. I’m getting to use all the skills I learned in the Golf Club Management program in the day to day operations of Bell Bay. This year, we are hosting the MacKenzie Tour event. I’ll try to qualify, but even if I don’t, I’ll get first-hand experience as part of the organizing team.”

Eric Tobin, Pro at Bell Bay, said James was a natural choice for the golf club.

“I was very pleased when I saw James apply to be my assistant golf professional here at Bell Bay Golf Club. His background with professional sports is something that caught my eye early in my decision to bring him on board. His dedication to hockey in his past career was evident, and I am excited to see this transition to the golf industry. Holland College has given him the opportunity to step into a leadership role after only his second year. The education he has gained at Holland College made him an easy choice for this position. I am looking forward to a long relationship with James,” he said.

James will return to Holland College in the fall to take the one-year Professional Golf Management program.

Jeff Donovan said demand for graduates from the golf programs at Holland College has never been higher.

“This past year we could have placed each of our students three times over. There is a huge demand for young professionals in the golf industry. Employers are contacting the program and looking for graduates who are able to go to golf facilities and handle the day to day business demands and deliver the type of programming that will drive new membership and participation,” he said.

Written by Sara Underwood

June 9, 2016 at 10:28 am

The Culinary Institute of Canada welcomes guest Chef Warren Barr The Pointe Restaurant, Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino, Vancouver Island

leave a comment »

Chef Warren and students

Chef Warren Barr and some of the students he worked with during his visit to the CIC

Although Tofino, B.C. and Charlottetown, P.E.I. are about as far apart as two communities can get and still be part of the same country, there are more similarities than differences between the two island towns, making the 75-room Wickaninnish Inn a natural fit for students and graduates of The Culinary Institute of Canada.

Chef Warren Barr, Executive Chef at The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn, spent five summers as executive chef at the Inn at Bay Fortune, in P.E.I., before making his way west. He says the experience helped him to define principles of culinary integrity to which he has adhered ever since.

“At The Inn at Bay Fortune, we had a ‘strictly Canadian’ policy, and worked almost exclusively with local and regional farmers and producers. It gives you an accountability for what’s on the plate. As a chef, you develop a respect for the ingredients when you know the individuals who produce them. You’re a lot less likely to be wasteful with ingredients when you understand how much time and effort someone put into growing them.”

During his summers on P.E.I., Chef Warren developed an interest in The Culinary Institute of Canada, and gained an appreciation for the way the chef instructors prepared students for the profession.

“The students and graduates come into the kitchen ready to roll up their sleeves and take on any task that they are given. They don’t have ‘great expectations’ about where they will fit in the kitchen hierarchy. They are prepared to work hard and learn as much as they can from the rest of the team,” he says.

Chef Warren was back in P.E.I. last weekend to discuss employment opportunities with students seeking summer internships and those preparing to graduate this spring. He brought the Wickaninnish Inn’s Human Resource Manager, Melody McLorie with him.

Melody says the CIC’s students have an exceptional level of talent, and the way the semesters work at the college means that they can stay in their internships until the end of the busy season, whereas students from other cooking schools return to the classroom at the end of August, leaving their employers short-staffed for the busy fall months.

The Wickaninnish Inn employs up to 160 staff and provides staff housing for as many as 88.

“Tofino has a population of about 1,800, so finding housing in the summer would be difficult. We’ve purchased several homes in the area, and set them up as staff residences,” Melody explains.

Each house has a staff member who oversees the daily functioning of the house, sort of a residence assistant, ensuring that everything runs as smoothly as possible in these communal living spaces.

Tofino is not for everyone, Melody adds. The town is five hours north west of Victoria, Vancouver Island, and about three hours from Nanaimo, so access to some amenities is limited. But, as Chef Warren points out, if you’re into bonfires on the beach, and hiking around the beautiful Pacific Northwest, it may be just the place for you.


Written by Sara Underwood

March 1, 2016 at 9:26 am

Very distinguished Prince of Wales College alumnus visits Holland College

leave a comment »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting a very distinguished alumnus of Prince of Wales College, Dr. Lewis Woolner. At the age of 101 (he’ll be 102 next month), Dr. Woolner must surely be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, living alumnus of Prince of Wales College. We thought he might be interested in taking a tour of the Charlottetown Centre, originally the location of the Prince of Wales College. The building was constructed in 1932 to replace the previous building, which burned down in 1931, and would have been about four years old by the time Dr. Woolner graduated.

Dr. Woolner usually gets around with the help of a walker, but with all of the construction work that’s going on in the main entrance and in the old auditorium (which is being transformed into a performance hall for the college’s School of Performing Arts, a partnership with Confederation Centre of the Arts), we deemed it safer to show him around in a wheelchair.

The retired pathologist, who spent his career at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota after earning a medical degree at Dalhousie University, returns to his native Prince Edward Island just about every year to reconnect with his family and his roots. It was an extraordinary experience to watch Dr. Woolner sifting through his memories, and to see his face light up when something struck a chord.

Some parts of the Charlottetown Centre remain almost as they were when the building was first opened. In one of our Accounting Technology classrooms, there is a beautiful set of floor to ceiling cabinets and drawers. This area used to be a physics lab back in the Prince of Wales College days, and so was certainly a space in which Dr. Woolner would have spent a great deal of time.

He remembers walking to the college from West Royalty, where he roomed with his aunt and uncle, and he remembers walking past the 1911 Jail every day on his way here. The wheelchair proved useful, as once he had seen the Accounting Technology classroom and the performance hall, he wanted to go around the outside of the building to see the doorway through which he would have entered on most days,  on the Kent Street side of the building.

Finally, we showed him the newer part of the Prince of Wales Campus, the lovely courtyard and the quadrangle bordered by Glendenning Hall, the Centre for Applied Science and Technology, and the Centre for Community Engagement.

The Prince of Wales Campus has been a busy spot since Dr. Woolner’s visit. The first year students were here for an orientation. There were more than a thousand students from campuses and centres across the province in the Centre for Community Development and in the quad and courtyard getting to know each other and soaking up the college’s vibe. The average age of Holland College is about 24, although there are students as young as 18 and there are many mature students as well. They will spend the next year or two honing their skills and acquiring the knowledge they need to enter their chosen fields; most of them will look back at the time they have spent here fondly, and will form friendships that will last for decades. But it’s doubtful that many of them will be back to visit the campus in 80 years! We hope that Dr. Woolner will visit us again next summer.

Meet Holland College language student Fei Wang

leave a comment »

Fei and her son William

Fei and her son William

For many newcomers, the most remarkable (shocking, in some cases) experience when they move to Prince Edward Island is the weather in winter. For Fei Wang, that wasn’t really an issue.

“I come from Northern China, close to Beijing, so the weather is very similar. But I wasn’t expecting so much snow,” she laughs.

I think all of us were shocked and awed by the 17+ feet of snow we received this year, so her horror is perfectly understandable.

For Fei, 36, the biggest surprise was how friendly the people here are.

“The people are so nice and helpful,” she says.

Fei’s journey to Canada was a journey of transformation. If she had stayed in China, she explains, nothing would have changed. She worked in the Human Resources department of a marketing firm, and would have been expected to continue to work in that capacity for the rest of her life. Instead, she says, she saw the opportunity to change the path of her life by emigrating.

So Fei, her husband Zhi Tao Wu, and their 9-year-old son came to Prince Edward Island about a year and a half ago.

“I followed my heart,” she says.

It was a bold move, but not one that she regrets. Now she is working as a translator for PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada and as a customer service representative for Air Canada. For both of these tasks, the ability to communicate is vital.

Fei says that her training in Holland College’s language training program has helped her develop in her English skills, including a stint at Andrew’s Lodge for on the job training.

“It has made a big difference. If your English is better, you can communicate what you are thinking more clearly. Holland College has been very important to me.”

Aside from the friendliness of Islanders, Fei say the biggest surprises when they arrived here were the lack of pollution and the slower pace.

She said that with the technology available now, she can keep in touch with her friends and family in China through Skype and by email. What she misses the most, she says, is the food.

She offers two pieces of advice to other newcomers:

“Take it easy and don’t rush, and learn English,” she says. “Life here is beautiful.”


Written by Sara Underwood

June 22, 2015 at 10:01 am

Holland College Commercial Diving graduate part of historic Victoria Straits Expedition

leave a comment »

Joe Boucher aboard the RV Investigator during the Victoria Strait Expedition. Photo by Thierry Boyer

Joe Boucher aboard the RV Investigator during the Victoria Strait Expedition. Photo by Thierry Boyer

When Joe Boucher signed up for the Commercial Diving program at Holland College in 2008, it’s unlikely that he thought that he’d end up on board a ship off the coast of Nunavut searching for two ships that disappeared almost 170 years ago. But that’s exactly where he found himself, as part of the Victoria Straits Expedition to find the Franklin Expedition ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

May, 1845, the two Royal Navy ships left Greenhithe, England on an expedition to map out a northwest passage that would take the ships from Europe to Asia. Under the command of Sir John Franklin, the expedition’s two ships set out with 134 officers and men. The ships had been fitted with the most up to date gear for polar exploration, including a heating system and a water distillation system; and were loaded with enough provisions to last up to three years. Franklin’s orders were to find a passage and return to England via the Pacific Ocean.

Last seen by Europeans in July of 1845, the ships never returned to England.

In 1848, a search party was sent to determine the fate of the explorers, and subsequently there were many searches. In 1850, three grave sites and relics from the expedition were located on the east coast of Beechey Island. In 1859, Lieutenant Hobson, part of searcher Francis Leopold McClintock’s expedition, discovered a note on King William Island that shed some light on the fate of the crew of the two ships. Over the years, human remains believed to be those of members of the Franklin Expedition were found, the condition of some of the bones suggesting that the lost sailors had resorted to cannibalism. Many studies and findings, including scraps of notes written by members of the expedition found by Inuit hunters over the years, have suggested that the men had succumbed to starvation, frostbite and hypothermia; but the ships themselves were never recovered.

In August of 2014, the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition was launched. The expedition brought together public and private partners and the most sophisticated equipment in the world to search for the ships and the secrets they may contain.

This area of the Arctic waters is relatively unmapped, due to the thickness of the ice, and it somehow seems fitting that a graduate of Holland College (which is named after one of the most influential 18th Century surveyors of British North America), should participate in such an ambitious project…and have one of the coolest jobs ever.

Joe’s Story

Crew shot after the discovery of the Franklin wreck (Jonathan Moore, Ryan Harris, Joe Boucher, Chriss Ludin) at the stern of RV Investigator. Photo by Thierry Boyer

Crew shot after the discovery of the Franklin wreck (Jonathan Moore, Ryan Harris, Joe Boucher, Chriss Ludin) at the stern of RV Investigator. Photo by Thierry Boyer

I grew up in Barrie, Ontario, but I have lived mostly in Ottawa since 2002. After graduating from Holland College’s Commercial diving program in 2009, I worked for a few years as a commercial diver.  I came across a posting on the Government of Canada’s public service jobs website for an underwater dive technician position. I had the required experience, education and background, so I decided to apply. I was the successful candidate. I started working with Parks Canada in 2011. I’m an underwater archaeology technician. I am a diver with a commercial background, so I do many of the more practical tasks underwater. I also contribute to some of the underwater archaeology taking measurements, making observations, and even excavating. However, diving is really only a small part of what I do.  I work with our technologist to maintain all of our equipment, such as boats, trucks, and dive equipment. I assist with acquisitions and provide logistical support on many of our projects.  I work to ensure that our equipment is transferred from one project to another in a timely and efficient manner.  I do whatever else is asked of me, which can be very diverse, from driving a forklift around to shaking hands with our Minister, to rebuilding diving regulators.  My job, in large part, consists of doing what is needed to ensure that the archaeologists can do theirs, including offering advice or insight in areas where I may have a different perspective or understanding, based on my training and previous work experience.

Every spring, we have a meeting to discuss the next year’s work plan. We decide what projects will be undertaken and resources are assigned following these discussions. This past year, I was lucky enough to work in Gwaii Haanas National Park, The Empress of Ireland National Historic Site and, most recently, the Victoria Strait Expedition.

There were a number of vessels involved in the expedition: Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Kingston, the Arctic Research Foundation’s Martin Bergmann, the Canadian Coast Guard Vessel Sir Wilfrid Laurier and One Ocean Expedition’s One Ocean Voyager, supplied through the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.  There were also a number of small boats and other tools such as a Defence Research and Development Canada autonomous underwater vehicle.  I was berthed on board the Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and piloted Investigator, the boat that was towing the side scan sonar that found the Erebus.

Joe Boucher (helm) Jonathan Moore(standing) and Ryan Harris (side scan sonar operator seat) in RV Investigator. Photo by Thierry Boyer

Joe Boucher (helm) Jonathan Moore(standing) and Ryan Harris (side scan sonar operator seat) in RV Investigator. Photo by Thierry Boyer

It took two days to get from Ottawa to Cambridge Bay. From there, I boarded the Sir Wilfrid Laurier to begin the search. We did not go directly to the site – we searched a gradually expanding area. The route was planned out in advance.  In total, we were on board for approximately four weeks, and I believe the discovery was made during the second week aboard the vessel.

Once the discovery was made, we made several passes with the side scan sonar to acquire more diagnostic images.  After this, we used a Parks Canada ROV to “ground truth” the target to get a camera on the shipwreck and actually make sure it was what we thought it was.  After this, we dove on the wreck.  At the same time, in between dives, the Canadian Hydrographic Service used a high-tech multi-beam system to acquire very detailed 3D images of the shipwreck.

I am one of only four people present at the actual discovery, and I am one of the seven people who dove on the ship to date. It was pretty cool. I dove on the shipwreck once.  The idea was to look for unique features on the wreck which would help identify which of Franklin’s ship we had found.

It was a pretty humbling experience.  When you think that you are part of a select group of people who are the first to lay eyes on the ship in almost 200 years, it certainly does stop and make you think.  Really when I was around the ship most of the things going through my head were the still unanswered questions: How did the ship get here? What is still on board? What can we learn from the ship?  I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity to dive the vessel and hopefully future expeditions will give us the opportunity to answer many of the questions which remain.

Our team was recognized by the House of Commons when we returned from the expedition.  We received a standing ovation from the MPs, and had our photo taken with the Prime Minister.

When I was in school, I never saw myself going this direction, but it’s absolutely awesome.  Going to Holland College opened all kinds of doors for me. The program gave me many of the tools I need to do my current job.  I learned a lot about many of the tools and equipment used in diving, how things work and why they work.  It taught me the importance of a certain level of physical fitness for diving.  The program gave me knowledge and experience necessary to start my career as a commercial diver.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I would tell other people interested in getting into this field that hard work is very important. Employers, as well as your fellow employees, will respect you more if you put forth a solid effort.  Your interpersonal skills are very important.  A career in diving often means spending long periods of time at least semi isolated with your colleagues.  You have to know how to get along with people.  Breaking into the diving industry is not easy, but the program at Holland will give you an excellent start.

Joe wasn’t the only Holland College graduate to participate in the Victoria Strait Expedition. Captain David MacIsaac and his son Daniel, graduates of the college’s Marine Training Centre, were also part of the expedition. Their stories will be posted on the blog soon.


Useful links

For more information about the Franklin Expedition and the efforts to find the missing ships since they disappeared in about 1845, visit the Canadian Geographic website. http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/franklin-expedition/partners.asp


A complete list of partners can be found here. http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/franklin-expedition/partners.asp





Written by Sara Underwood

January 15, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Holland College golf students participate in applied research project

leave a comment »

Image downloaded from www.boditrakathletics.com.

Image downloaded from http://www.boditrakathletics.com.

Terry Hashimoto crouches down in the club house of Belvedere Golf Club and unrolls what looks a lot like a doormat with a USB cord coming out of one side. He hooks the USB cord up to his laptop, and in less than a minute, his team’s latest invention, the BodiTrak is ready to go.

BodiTrak helps golfers improve their stance for all of their different swings by pressure mapping. Last semester, Holland College Golf Management and Professional Golf Management students and their instructors used the mat. The group has seen a marked improvement their games.

“I’ve been teaching golf for 20 years,” says Golf instructor Blair MacPhail. “Without a doubt, this is one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

Instructor Jeff Donovan agrees.

“In only a month, I was hitting further, higher, longer – I would not have made the changes to my stance if I hadn’t seen the traces produced by the mat,” he says.

Terry says that the BodiTrak is an affordable, portable alternative to force plates, which are expensive and cumbersome. The system has been on the market for a couple of years now. The next step is to develop curriculum to train golf pros to use the system.

Jeff Donovan explains how the Holland College Golf Programs have become involved.

“We are working with Terry to refine the process for trainers using this product. Doing so is a great fit with our program. We already train golfers and many of our students are skilled players, so we’ll be able to use our expertise to engage our students in activities aimed at developing the most effective drills to use with the product. We’ll also look at how to apply the data that is gathered by the system to create a personalized training routine.”

Program Manager Tim McRoberts said the project is a great way for students and faculty to remain connected to the cutting-edge nature of training within the golf industry.

“Throughout the college, programs remain involved with industry partners to develop products or methodologies that can be applied in the real world. This project allows industry to make use of our expertise while providing students with valuable learning opportunities,” he explains.

Over the past few months, Terry says there have been several exciting developments for the Boditrak team.

“Jim McLean Golf Schools will be carrying and using the BodiTrak golf pressure mat as an integral part of its golf education programs at Trump National Doral, and Liberty National. We have signed Michael Breed of the Golf Channel’s Golf Fix Fame to a 5-year endorsement agreement, and CORE Golf, home of Sean Foley, Tiger Woods’ coach, has signed on as an educational partner. BodiTrak continues to expand its professional use both here in Canada and at golf courses such as Merion, Congressional, Baltusrol, Glen Abbey and the like. Additionally, manufacturers such as Foot Joy, Bridgestone, and Taylor Made are using and testing the systems.”

Written by Sara Underwood

July 15, 2014 at 11:42 am