British Annual Canada Travel Award win

Stuart Forster discusses becoming the proud owner of a British Annual Canada Travel Award for Best Online Coverage.

It’s a huge honour to be presented with one of the prestigious awards, known within the travel industry as BACTAs. The annual awards are organised by Destination Canada and 2017’s ceremony was their 27th edition.

I was presented with a beautiful, red glass polar bear trophy during a lunchtime event at Canada House on Trafalgar Square in London on 23 February 2017.

That was the day that Storm Doris blustered and raged her way across Britain, affecting transport links and wreaking havoc as she did so. I was certainly blow away to be presented with the award.

British Annual Canada Travel Award (BACTA) for Best Online Writing.
Stuart Forster with the 2017 British Annual Canada Travel Award (BACTA) for Best Online Writing.

Lifting a polar bear

As one of just three finalists for the award, you might think that being presented with the trophy would not have come as a major surprise. But I really wasn’t expecting it.

Prior to the awards lunch I visited the bathroom and missed the announcement calling people to take their seats in the dining room.

When I entered the room I was unsure as to whether there was a seating plan or not. Glancing at the table next to the stage I noticed name tags. Other tables were numbered but did not have name tags on them.

I was shown to a seat away from the stage, so assumed I was not one of the winners. Why? I made the false assumption that all of the winners would be seated with easy access to the podium.

Consequently, I relaxed and had a thoroughly enjoyable time listening to my neighbours at the table. They were from the Haida Enterprise Corporation and provided insights into aspects of aboriginal tourism on Haida Gwaii in British Columbia.

So when I was called to the stage as the winner in the Best Online Coverage category, the first of the five BACTAs presented during the lunch, I genuinely was speechless.

A glass polar bear - The British Annual Canada Travel Award (BACTA) trophy for Best Online Writing.
A glass polar bear – The British Annual Canada Travel Award (BACTA) trophy for Best Online Writing.

A word of thanks

I waffled a few ineloquent words of thanks into the microphone. Ideally, I would have liked to have said something about Canada consistently proving an inspirational travel destination. Unfortunately I mangled that opportunity.

The online feature for which I won the award was my post, Polar Bear Safari in Manitoba, Canada.

Without the excellent guides at Seal River Heritage Lodge, a remote, Churchill Wild-run property 60 kilometres north of Churchill, I would not have been able to get close to wild polar bears nor learn so much about their behaviour and environment.

Travel Manitoba and Destination Canada provided support to facilitate that trip. It’s worth checking out both of their websites for information if you feel inspired to experience the wildlife and nature in the province.

After seeing the 400 kilogram polar bear that I mention in my feature I later saw the northern lights dancing in the sky above the lodge.

The BACTA trophy that I was presented with depicts a polar bear looking towards the sky. I wonder if she’s peering towards the Northern Lights or throwing her head back and thinking ruefully, “I wish that Stuart Forster had been more eloquent when called onto the stage to collect me!”

Thank you to everyone who made it possible for me to life the trophy, and thanks to all of you who follow Go Eat Do.

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Illustrating photos supplied courtesy of Destination Canada.

British Annual Canada Travel Awards winner logo
British Annual Canada Travel Awards winner logo


  • Kevin Ashton

    October 17, 2017 at 18:06 Reply

    Congratulations Stuart on winning this award for your writing.

    • Stuart Forster

      October 18, 2017 at 08:58 Reply

      Thank you for saying that, Kevin.

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