My name is Steve Stenman, and I am thrilled to be a tour director for Maple Leaf Tours! I am currently in my 7th year in the role, and I have loved visiting both new and familiar places and getting to know all my amazing clients. No matter where we travel there is a Maple Leaf maxim that we always share on any tour; we may depart as strangers, but we return as friends! And in my experience, this has always proven to be true!
I was born, raised, and educated in Montreal in the west end community of Notre Dame de Grace. Enrolled in the French immersion program of our English School Board, (PSBGM), and learning a second language from teachers who came from all parts of Quebec and France, my lifelong interest in travel was piqued as I learned about life in far away French speaking places. My first time away from home for an extended period came when I was in grade 7 and spent four weeks billeted with a family in Jonquiere in the Saguenay region of the province where I certainly learned about travel, not to mention a lot of French!
In high school I travelled on a two-week school trip to Paris and London. I have vivid memories of taking a double decker bus to a camera shop in London to get my camera fixed, much to the displeasure of the chaperones to whom I’d neglected to mention my plans. I did get the camera repaired however! Travel and adventure are often synonymous!
After high school and CEGEP, I attended Concordia University where I studied psychology and liberal arts, then McGill University where I graduated in education and became a teacher. My first two years of teaching were 1850 km north of Montreal in the Inuit village of Salluit where I taught English as a second language to Inuit students. This was a “fly in” community serviced only by a yearly ship and by a weekly plane. Due to bad weather, our tiny sea otter couldn’t land in the village, so that year’s crop of new teachers was left 15 miles upriver from Salluit where we were rescued by sea kayak and brought to our new home in the middle of the night. I know it was still in Quebec, but that first night felt like we had arrived on Mars!
After two years working in the North, I moved to Kingston where my future wife had started working and was successful in finding a teaching position. I taught elementary school for 31 years with the Limestone District School Board, (formally known as the Frontenac Board of Education), as a classroom teacher and then later a music teacher. Since 1987 my wife and I have lived in Kingston, Sydenham, and then Inverary where we raised our two now grownup sons.
Throughout my life I have always loved to travel. While our boys were growing up, we took many family trips together, (Vancouver, San Francisco, and Florida are prominent in my memory), as well as Newfoundland, Arizona, and Mexico as empty nesters! I have also re-visited western Europe twice, once as new graduate backpacking and riding the trains with a Eurail pass, and then again in 1991 before we had our children, driving the highways of France, Germany, and Italy, (I remember having to drive at 150 km/hr just to keep up in the slow lanes!)
So, since retirement, working as a tour director at Maple Leaf Tours has been a wonderful experience and feels like a “natural fit”. I have greatly enjoyed visiting many parts of the U.S. and Canada, (my most recent extended tour being a visit to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry – my sixth time!). This past summer I loved leading both a tour to beautiful PEI and Cape Breton Island for the fantastic “Celtic Colours Festival”.
As I always say when introducing myself to new clients on any tour, my job as a tour director at Maple Leaf Tours is to help my clients have the most enjoyable and memorable experience possible; something I take both pride and pleasure in doing!