Your Hosts

Sandra Phinney gives new meaning to that old cliché “been around the block a few times.”  Former lives include everything from teaching and doing social work to cutting fish, owning and operating a retail store, and farming.

Sandra reinvented herself one more time in 1999 and has since written stories for over 70 publications (both print and online) and penned four books. She also delivers narrative, memoir and travel writing workshops.

Part of her portfolio is travel writing. She’s danced with Bedouins in Jordan, visited shamans in northern Thailand, and backpacked through Senegal, Africa. Yet, her heart is rooted in her own backyard; she is especially fond of celebrating the lives and stories of Canadians in general, and Atlantic Canadians in particular.

Sandra is married to Barrie MacGregor. They live off the grid in the forest on the edge of the Tusket River in Yarmouth County, NS. In her spare time Sandra does wilderness paddling and teaches Tai Chi.                   

When Melanie Chambers first travelled overseas, she brought a bike and sleeping bag—with no plan, itinerary or hotel booked, she was free to roam. That was in 1996. Since then, she now plans her trips, but she hasn’t lost that zest for free spirit travel and following your instinct.

Becoming a published travel writer in 2000 after graduating from Ryerson, her stories, (and her most memorable ones), are of those “aha” moments, first-time experiences and adventures. Some of her favourite stories include a car crash in Italy that revealed much about the Italian psyche, a 900-km mountain bike race across South Africa, getting mugged in Buenos Aires, hiking South Africa’s highest mountain, and her most recent, contemplating death and Buddhism trekking through the Himalayas of Bhutan.

When she unpacks the bags, her home is Toronto where she commutes to Western University weekly to teach undergraduates how to become travel and food writers.

In Toronto she loves to salsa dance and ride through the city; and when it gets too hectic, she and her partner Paul, and cat Tom, head to a family cottage in Halliburton to practice back dives and dance.