Posted March 24, 2016
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By Bill "Skip" Johns
Waterloo Chronicle, March 23, 2016
Lorna and Larry Hundt started Great Canadian Holidays and Coaches in 1984 and the local company has since grown to 150 people, including their daughters Andrea Hundt Lorentz and Michelle Hundt Tupman. The company is known for the sports-themed and patriotic-themed buses it operates as an homage to Canada and the local community.
Waterloo Region has seen it’s share of successful business operations over the years, but none stand out with as much eye-catching appeal as Great Canadian Holidays and Coaches.
The charter bus business, which celebrated it’s 30th year of operation in 2014, features some of the most stunningly decorated people-carrying vehicles in Ontario, which highlight a variety of topics — most with strong Canadian-based themes.
Just think about these four special coaches numbered 1867, 1955, 1918 and 1968.
The first is for Canada’s year of Confederation and the great Canadian moments featured on both sides of the vehicle just scratch the surface of what has gone on in our nation.
Included are such names and events as Laura Secord, Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, the invention of the telephone by Brantford’s Alexander Graham Bell, back-to-back World Series wins by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993 and Paul Henderson’s winning goal in the historic Canada-Russia hockey showdown in 1972, to name to name just five of more than 25 highlighted.
The 1955 bus features the year when the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame opened and focuses on more than 30 of Canada’s most famous athletes from a variety of sports.
Do any of these names sound familiar? Marilyn Bell, Silken Lauman, Sandy Hawley, Barbara Ann Scott, Nancy Greene, George Chuvalo, Fergie Jenkins, Maurice Richard, Sandra Post and Kitchener’s own Murray (Moe) Norman, to single out just a few names.
Coach 1918 marks the year women first got to vote in Canada and the massive list of 45 women ranges from leadership, business, medicine, sports and the arts.
Some of the names include Hazel McCallion, Mary Pickford and Buffy Sainte Marie and The Famous Five of Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney and Irene Parlby.
The 1968 coach is aimed at showcasing some of Canada’s best known musical talent and here’s just a quick sampling; Stompin’ Tom Connors, the Mercy Brothers from Hanover, Shania Twain, Paul Anka, k.d. Lang, Anne Murray, Celine Dion, Natalie McMaster and Oscar Peterson.
This quick review of some of the buses, many masterfully painted by Dave Sopha of Cambridge, gives you an idea how strongly co-owners Larry and Lorna Hundt feel about their country.
The launch of the business in 1984, before Lorna and Larry were married, was small with just a few vehicles.
But Lorna, a native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Larry both had ties to travel ventures and liked the idea of starting their own operation.
From that humble beginning — and a few name changes — Great Canadian Holidays and Coaches is now the second-largest coach charter in Ontario and the largest tour company, now operating more than 50 vehicles and with bases in London, Toronto, Niagara Falls and Oshawa.
And it is very much a family operation with daughters Michelle Hundt Tupman serving as director of tour operations, while daughter Andrea Hundt Lorenz and her husband Joel are marketing
director and resources manager respectively.
The family theme also seems to extend to the more than 150 employees who operate the buses and the extensive extra operations at the company’s massive centre in Waterloo Region.
One driver said it was the best of both worlds. “It’s great to be treated as a person and not just as a number and at the same time the diversity of the trips makes it a very interesting place to work,” said Mick Kozlowski.
Under the flagship of Great Canadian Group of Companies, the Hundt family not only runs the one- and multi-day tours all over Canada and the U.S., but it has an auto care centre and fleet services for cleaning and parking for trucks, buses, vans, pick-up trucks and more.
More information on the trips and services can be found at www.GreatCanadianHolidays.com or phoning 1-800-461-8687.