2019 Winner
Wise 50 Over 50 Award™

Ian Kalinowsky – The Great Canadian Travel Group Inc.


Ian was educated in economics, psychology and accounting before starting a career as a chartered accountant. This quickly changed to wanting to be in control and a career in finance ensued. Ian built a wealth management company that grew to manage a quarter of a billion dollars and had a staff of ten stretched over 2 offices. But Ian’s true passion was travel which he did extensively with his wife and two sons. Ian decided to sell his finance company to his employees and “retire.” However, “retirement” had no place in a curious and active mind.

Ian was 51 when he decided to turn a passion for travel into his full-time business. The Founder of travel agency, The Great Canadian Travel Group, decided he wanted to do other things and over lunch with Ian a deal for the purchase of the company was reached. 

Since then the company has grown from 9 to 21 employees in Winnipeg and Edmonton. We have received National Geographic’s “Top 50 Tours of the Year” award (2015) and the “fastest growing” travel agency in North America” (2016) from the Ensemble consortium of travel agencies.  

The Great Canadian Travel Group is a global travel agency focusing on building personalized trips for clients, their families and small groups. The belief is that it is easier to talk to a client and plan their Best Days Ever! if the travel consultant has actually “been there – done that.”

Our key advantage is our staff of experienced and knowledgeable travel consultants. Each of them also travels extensively as part of their employment. 

Ian’s wife, Margot, has entered the business as a tour director and escorts groups to Africa several times per year. Family travel continues to be a priority with several trips per year.

Great Canadian started in 1980 with polar bear tours to Churchill, Manitoba. This developed a corporate passion and expertise in what we call “The Top of the World.” Ian sat on the Board of Nunavut Tourism for several years assisting in the development of local tourism that could be offered to the world. This involved extensive travelling throughout the North of Canada meeting with tour operators and communities discussing how to develop and market their unique experiences.