RCW 139: Toronto Holiday - A Dueser's Story

So glad everyone is back home safely, it was such a pleasure meeting you all we had a great time didn't we?!!

Anyway here is a report of sorts of what I got up to!

Friday, was registration day for RCW, starting at 10am just down the corridor from our room. My son Martin and I pick up our goody bags and name tags at around 11 and mingle! Inside our bags are a t-shirt, compass, a small torch/key ring, some milk duds:) 14 trading cards, (we have to buzz around like schoolkids trying to get a complete full set!) a pen and an 8 x 12 promo photo from Passchendaele personally dedicated and signed by Paul Gross, and no, it did not say "Thank You Kindly" !!

Also buzzing was the Due South Trading Post table which was set up on the first two days of the convention selling a great variety of Due South merchandise.  Well yes, of course I bought something - a lovely Due South bag!

About 10 minutes in I find myself being sought by Stephane (Racle, chair of RCW), who rushes up and welcomes me, he looks a little anxious but is pleased that so far things are going 'reasonably well' and every one is mixing ok. A short while later I discover Erin (O'Neill) who is also helping Sonja (Mooney-Childs) with the PG-L event . Neither of us have seen Sonja, but as I decide it's time to sit down for a bit I find myself sitting next to her and her mum, Mariellen. I introduce myself and we chat and then I hear my name mentioned a chair or two down the line. I peer at this lady's name tag(I'm not wearing myglasses!) and lo and behold it's Marianne (Davison)! We hug as if we've known each other for ever!! It was a great moment, she's a lovely lady and we got on really well immediately.

The rest of the day sped by with talks by charismatic Terry Russell (RCMP officer) the 'meet and greet' with yummy buffet, a visit by Cinder (Draco's sister and stand in) and handler Gail Parker, and Jay Semko's Q& A.

A quietly spoken man but full of interesting and entertaining stories about his time with Due South. Following straight on from this was the kit Kat tasting competition, but by 10:30 most of the chocolate bars were tasting equally awful to me except the orange one from the UK!! And so to bed!

Saturday we had to be up early as it was the location bus tour and the bus was arriving at 8:30am! Joseph was an excellent guide and we packed a great many locations into 3 hours, arriving back just in time to welcome David Marciano for a wonderful Q& A session. He talks and talks and talks and is a fabulous and a very amusing and entertaining man. After his session he then went for a short break and we welcomed Catherine Bruhier(Elaine) to the stage. She looked stunning, but although pleased to be with us wasn't as relaxed as David being up on stage on her own talking about herself. About half way through her session David reappears and walks up to the microphone to ask her a question, just like all the fans had been doing, something like," So what was it like to shave the Mountie?!" he then joined her on the platform and from then on the Q & A was a riot, I'm sure I remember David rambling on about how many (or how few!) real teeth he still had left :) Like he said, he doesn't need alcohol for any of his little secrets to just come pouring out of his mouth without thinking! Somewhere in the middle of this I realised that Nancy (Klamut-Kurycz) had arrived as David wished her a happy birthday, so afterwards I found her to say hello, she was so pleased to see me and I her, another lovely lady!

Next was the Scavenger Hunt judging, Sonja, her mum Mariellen and me, made up one of the teams, I think there were 9 in all, and each team had a table to display their items. When we were done Catherine B came along to judge them, and despite being table #8 we were first to be judged and I took her along our table explaining as best I could what it was all about as she didn't have a clue as to what she was supposed to be doing! Neither did we really!

After she'd done the other tables she came back to ours and did us again as she said she hadn't done ours justice and she now knew better what she was supposed to be looking for :) but we wouldn't find out the results until tomorrow :(

The Gala dinner was a rather tasty buffet and I tried Perogies for the first time! Marianne, Sonja, Mariellen, Diana (Read?) and Martin and I made up table #4. I'd bought a birthday card for Nancy so Marianne and I signed it and presented it to her at her dinner table. We also had a photo taken of the 3 of us which I think is somewhere online - ah yes here I think

http://www.hephoto.co.uk/events/RCW139/16thAugust/5GalaDinner/index.html  (we're the 3rd picture in Marianne Nancy and me!)

David his wife Katayoun and Catherine and her husband also attended and thankfully people left them in peace to enjoy their food. Afterwards David and Catherine were presented with an RCW t shirt and a scroll of messages each that each attendee had written, they were delighted and at David's suggestion we had a group picture taken, this was an hilarious undertaking as some of us had to balance on the edge of the stage in front of the table, others standing in front, David and Catherine on chairs in front of them and others kneeling beside them. It ended up with Katayoun grabbing the camera and taking about 15 shots in quick succession. It was a great end to the night!

Sunday, the PG L event. This was due to start at 9 am but at 8:55 there was still no sign of Sonja and Mariellen, they were travelling in from home, but as it was Sunday they'd had problems with the TTC public transport system, and as Sonja had all the postcards and all the questions, for the quiz, charades and name that tune, Erin and I began to try and think of a plan B LOL! But just after 9 thankfully they arrived. In no time we set to putting up a world map and displaying the postcards on the wall, with red ribbon linking the postcards to the countries, as we were in such a rush I think Addie and I managed to tie Auckland with Australia rather than New Zealand, which sadly we did not notice at the time, my apologies for that Anne-Marie. But the display looked very impressive even if I do say so myself.

We divided up the contestants into 2 groups one doing the quiz, which Erin and Mariellen ran, and the other set doing charades and name that tune which Sonja and I did with the sets swopping after about an hour. Everyone got a prize, be it a magnificent bag that Sonja had handmade or a Men With Brooms curling pin, and it was a great success with everyone having a ball.

Following this it was time for the result of the Scavenger Hunt. So everyone traipsed back into the 'Big Room'. Results were announced in reverse order, and guess what, our team won!

Marianne had decided that she'd make an early start on her drive back home, it was a very long way, so we sadly said our goodbyes.

Next it was the silent auction followed by a break for lunch, then quickly back for Tom Melissis, another nice guy with a wicked sense of humour and fluent raconteur.

Straight after his Q & A he helped with the live auction.

First up was a Passchendaele poster signed by Paul, he'd written" Never Surrender.... Always Remember!" As everyone else appeared to be a bit timid I started bidding on it, $25 it started at, one other person started bidding against me but dropped out at $55, so I won it! I was quite shocked and pleased to have won it at a fairly reasonable price!! Once people warmed up the bidding was much more brisk and got quite tense at some point as the bids rose !

Tom (M) then signed autographs for everyone, he took a fancy to my bright red RCMP shirt and as I explained we'd had a retired RCMP guy with a table full of stuff the previous day, he said mischievously" so you stole it from him?!! :) And in fact my autograph dedication from him has "Nice shirt!" written on it!

I need to mention that the 'retired RCMP guy' was Phil Grossmith, a very friendly fellow who runs a RCMP Vet's Canteen, he travels with the Musical Ride selling RCMP merchandise  and was kind enough to set up a stall  at the convention. I know he made quite a few sales that afternoon! He also runs the Mountie Store website: http://www.mountiestore.com/index.html

I should also add that all the guests Jay, David and Catherine, signed autographs for everyone too!

All that remained of RCW then was a quick informal complete the quote competition and it was time for us all to say our goodbyes to all our new found friends and thankyous to the organisers, Stephane, Lee and John, who were beginning to look extremely weary! as were we all -- it had been a very hectic 3 days, but I'm so glad I went :)

- Felicity Pugh

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