• Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site at Fort Rodd Hill, B.C..

    The winning class visits Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site at Fort Rodd Hill, B.C.. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Everyone dreams of going to work and doing what they love. Kristen Montgomery is living that dream. She explains how a drawing she did in university helped her become the owner of Surf Sisters, a surfing school and shop in Tofino, B.C., that features an all-female staff. 

The week began with the students dipping their fingers in the Pacific Ocean on the first night. It ended on the lawn in front of Victoria’s Empress Hotel, where they reminisced about the week gone by. For this year’s winners of Canada’s Coolest School Trip, it was a week they would not soon forget.

A Grade 8 class from École Antoine-Roy in Rivière-au-Renard, Que. beat out 38 other competitors to win the top prize – a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. While there, the class visited Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, went sea kayaking, watched whales and learned to use a seine net.

Read more about the beginning of the trip; how the students learned about invasive species; what happened when the students went whale watching; and what the students enjoyed most about the trip.

Photo Essay

Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site at Fort Rodd Hill, B.C. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Students learn about endangered and non-native species, then take to the woods surrounding Fort Rodd Hill to remove Broome weeds. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Traditional Songhees chinook and spring salmon bake on the shores of Fort Rodd Hill. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Traditional Songhees chinook and spring salmon bake on the shores of Fort Rodd Hill. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

The students head out on the water with Ocean River Kayaking. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Rifles on display at Fort Rodd Hill prior to a demonstration. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

A Parks Canada employee gives a rifle demonstration at Ford Rodd Hill. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Students dig in for a feast on Dungeness crab following a cooking demonstration on Sidney Island. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Students dig in for a feast on Dungeness crab following a cooking demonstration on Sidney Island. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Students set off in search of horseshoe clams on Sidney Island. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Students search for horseshoe clams on the beach on Sidney Island. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Students search for horseshoe clams on the beach on Sidney Island. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Some of the many finds from a seine netting activity at Sidney Spit are placed into water-filled containers on the beach. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Some of the many finds from a seine netting activity at Sidney Spit, like these crabs, are placed into water-filled containers on the beach. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Orcas. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Whale watching. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

The students spot orcas in the water. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Baby elephant seal (about two months old) at Race Rocks, an ecological reserve. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Bald eagle on Sidney Island. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)