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Rick Shaver, founder, Canadian chapter, tells the purpose of the club, how it recruits, and his favorite places in the world
12-06-2012  By: Jovana Arnaut
Rick Shaver, founder, Canadian chapter, Travelers' Century Club, at the Galapagos Islands
Rick Shaver, founder, Canadian chapter, Travelers' Century Club, at the Galapagos Islands
The Travelers’ Century Club (TCC) is an exclusive group comprised of members who have been to 100 countries.

According to the website, the idea of forming the social club began in 1954 in Los Angeles.

“Bert Hemphill, owner, Hemphill Travel Service, had pioneered deluxe around-the-world escorted tours by air. He had a loyal following of clients who went on his exploratory tours which were then marketed to others,” the site states.

"By 1960 there were 43 individuals who submitted qualification lists proving they had travelled to 100 or more countries. These travel pioneers became the charter members of TCC. Many were clients of Hemphill Travel and some were the agency’s tour directors."

Canada’s Toronto chapter was launched in 2010 and is headed by Rick Shaver. recently spoke with Shaver and asked him about the purpose of the club, how it recruits members and some of his favourite places in the world. Tell us about the Travelers’ Century Club Canadian Chapter and how it came about?

Rick Shaver: We had our first meeting in November 2010 at my house in Mississauga with about 15 members present.

Earlier in March of that year, I met with Klaus Billep, the world wide chairman of the Travelers' Century Club in Santa Monica, California to seek approval from him and the board to start a Canadian chapter.

At that time, there was only American Chapters and a recently launched UK chapter. At their next meeting, they approved Canada as an official chapter.

It wasn't until November we had our first meeting, as I still had to visit five more countries to reach 100. On two separate trips that year I went to the Ukraine, Moldova, Trans Dniester, French Polynesia and The Cook Islands.

Most of our meetings have been at my office. I own a marketing agency in downtown Toronto and we have a boardroom we can all fit in. One of our meetings was in a Middle Eastern restaurant [because we wanted to] align with the theme of our guest speaker's topic: United Arab Emirates.

We generally have a bit of lunch, listen to a guest speaker's presentation and save lots of time to share travel stories and information.

Shaver in Anguilla
Shaver in Anguilla
THN: What is your role in the club and what are you responsible for?

RS: I am responsible for organizing the Canadian Chapter's meetings; arranging speakers for the meetings (such as Jim Byers Toronto Star Travel editor; Margaret Swaine, Travel writer – examples of speakers from our last two meetings); providing content, for example, photos and meeting summaries, to TCC headquarters for inclusion in the Canada webpage; and looking for ways to publicize the TCC to ultimately get new members.

THN: What is the purpose of the club?

RS: [It is to] share the passion of international travel with like-minded individuals.

Canadian chapter members meet three times a year so, in between, most members have been somewhere interesting and exotic and are excited to share their experiences with the group. It’s not commercial or philanthropic, just passionate uber-travellers getting together to share stories and travel ideas.

It’s a really eclectic and curious group that are not in any way boastful but seriously interested in new and interesting travel experiences.  

THN: How do you attract members to join?

RS: It is really, really hard to find uber-travellers who have been to 100 plus countries. Before I met the current group of Canadian TCC members, the only person I had ever met [that visited] lots of countries was my wife Jane who has been to 75.

We have been fortunate to have several articles written about the club in travel related publications that have wide and national circulation. Each time, one or two folks with the country credentials necessary, see the article and are keen to join. The other exciting thing is I receive lots of interest from folks who are inspired to join sometime in the future.

THN: How many countries have you visited?

RS: 108

Shaver in the Amazon
Shaver in the Amazon
THN: Out of all the countries that you’ve been to, which is your favorite and why?

RS: I have a long list. In fact, I have never been to a country I have not liked.

Top of the list would be New Zealand and I was only in the North Island. The South Island, which I would love to visit, is even more interesting I am told.

The new Zealanders are kind of like Canadians – very friendly, more humble than the Aussies and less brash. [The country has] fantastic coastlines with unusual beaches. Cape Reinga is where you can see two oceans collide (Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean) and the 90 mile beach has extraordinary sand dunes. [Then there’s] Rotorua with its Maori culture, geysers and other weird geothermal activities and the Waitomo Caves with the thousands of glow worms that cling to the cave ceilings…I could go on and on.
Other [favourites are] the Galapagos Islands; Bora Bora; the spectacular Iguaçu Falls (where Argentina, Paraguay & Brazil meet); the Brazilian Amazon; Russia; Cambodia; Vietnam; and Machu Picchu in Peru.