Expedition Education Program
For 25 years, Dearcroft/West Wind has been Canada’s leader in elementary experiential education. Our award-winning Expedition Education Program established in 1996 has been an innovative and exciting extension of our curriculum. Through an integrated and highly ambitious travel-based experience, our West Wind Junior High students have had the opportunity to explore Canada from Coast to Coast. Exploring our country’s magnificent geography, visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Provincial and National Parks, and world class museums. From the majestic Pacific beaches of Vancouver Island to magnificent Yukon landscapes, across the vast Prairies and amazing Great Lakes, along the mighty St. Lawrence River through historic Quebec and the Maritimes, to the incredibly rugged, Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, we have explored so much of Canada’s remarkable geography over the years on these unforgettable journeys of learning.
Additional Expedition Education trips within our continent have also taken us to Alaska, the Everglades and Florida Keys. Our West Wind Jr. High students have also had the opportunity to participate in the international Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) conferences held in NYC for the past 15 years. Adventure can inspire us, unlock hidden potential, broaden our horizons, awaken our spirits, and refresh our senses. No classroom resource can compete with this.
Learn more about our Expeditions
Nova Scotia - 2021/2022
This Spring it was with great pleasure to announce that our Expedition Education program continued the Spring of 2022. Despite a hiatus due to the global COVID-19 Pandemic it has always remained close to our hearts and at the top of our priority list to offer this inspiring travel opportunity to the Junior High students as soon as it was feasible to do so. With the return of Expedition Education, we traveled to the East Coast of Canada.
The magnificent Atlantic coast provides an excellent locale, where students spent nearly 10 days exploring the history, natural treasures, cultural gems and unforgettable beauty of the Maritime Provinces focusing on Nova Scotia. Some of the main highlights that we explored included Halifax where we saw the city’s scenic waterfront, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Citadel Hill, and time at Dalhousie University with Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark (the Director of Animal Care at Dalhousie, a marine biologist by training, a veterinarian, author, cinematographer, sculptor, and a popular guest on numerous TV shows and documentaries). We also spent time on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, visiting iconic and picturesque seaside communities such as Chester, Mahone Bay & Lunenburg (a UNESCO World Heritage site and home of the famous racing schooner Bluenose, featured on the Canadian Dime) as well as visiting Peggy’s Cove, one of Canada’s most beautiful communities. We explored the tidal shores and fossil cliffs of the incredible Bay of Fundy and had the opportunity to walk on the seafloor at low tide, near Burntcoat around where the largest tidal range, at over 48’! This is just a glimpse of what our trip included.
Natural Study of Florida - 2019/2020
As part of Expedition Education 2020, the Westwind Junior High class travelled to Florida, where they learned about marine biology and water management, ecological distribution, agriculture, and explored the coastline. Students visited with scientists tackling issues of global climate, water management and ecosystem change, through the University of Miami. Students had the pleasure of meeting biologists working on research critical to ocean health and management of coastal ecosystems. Another significant emphasis of their trip was learning about the role of the Everglades and mangrove ecology in supporting the rich biodiversity in the Gulf of Mexico and coastal waters of the Gulf Stream south of the Florida Keys. The Everglades, also known as the River of Grass, is a globally unique ecosystem. Throughout their itinerary, they enjoyed various hands-on learning, including water sampling, beach walks on pristine barrier islands, kayaking and paddling and visiting world class Nature/Interpretive Centres at Rookery Bay in Naples, and Pennecamp State Marine Park near Key Largo. Students enjoyed the natural treasures of remarkable yet fragile wilderness regions where humans share a delicate balance with endangered species, timeless landscapes, and a spectacularly yet vulnerable marine environment.
Maritimes - 2018/2019
As we approach the wrap-up to Expedition Education #23/Canada’s Maritimes/June 2019… we have experienced many wonderful adventures together on the road.
We explored the spectacular Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Highlands where we enjoyed one of the world’s loveliest coastal drives. While visiting Baddeck on the shores of beautiful Bas d’Or Lake, we toured the fascinating Alexander Graham Bell Museum, commemorating the life of the brilliant inventor, his supportive family and remarkable band of friends and colleagues. Bell loved Cape Breton as it reminded him of his Scottish roots. The great inventor is buried nearby on his estate at Bhein Breagh. During his remarkable lifetime, he also became familiar with the career of Dr. Maria Montessori and was so impressed with her work that he sponsored a series of lectures… helping bring Montessori education to North America! At the museum we also viewed the full-scale replica of the Silver Dart, Bell’s aircraft that ushered in the era of flight in Canada, lifting off the frozen lake in February 1909… the first manned flight in the British Empire.
Back on the mainland of Nova Scotia, we visited Pictou and the landing site of pioneering Scottish immigrants who made landfall there on their ship the Hector in 1773. A re-creation of this 85’ ship is alongside the wharf there. From Pictou, we took the ferry to beautiful Prince Edward Island. Here we enjoyed the red earth, beautiful beaches, pastoral farmland and bountiful history of our smallest island province. Our Fathers of Confederation first met in Charlottetown in 1864, paving the way for the creation of Canada three years later on July 1st, 1867.
Newfoundland - 2017/2018
Expedition Education 2017-18: This was the year that we put an exclamation mark on a four year discovery of our country from coast to coast by visiting Newfoundland. Upon landing in St. John’s we immediately felt the legendary hospitality that the ‘The Rock’ is known for. Our local hosts, the Clarkes provided a picturesque cottage to use as home base, which was a short drive from St John’s. Not so welcoming were the high winds and snow on the ground on our second morning. But as West Wind students do they made the best of a cold situation with a brisk ‘polar bear dip’. The start of our expedition was full of day trips to historic towns and local attractions such as Salmonier Nature Reserve, Brigus, Port de Graves, and Bay Roberts. Highlights of the trip include many home cooked seafood dinners, whale and puffin watching, and last but not least being on the National broadcast of the Stanley Cup Finals for our sighting of a larger than life iceberg in the shape of a hockey glove. Our longer journeys took us to Bonavista, the landing place of John Cabot’s voyages, and hiking the beautiful coastal Skerwink trail. Back in St John’s, we investigated classic sights such as Signal Hill, Mile 0 of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, and Cape Spear. Our trip ended the way any trip to Newfoundland should, by experiencing traditional Newfoundland culture at Woody Island. Two days full of beach explorations, mummers and ugly sticks, endless fresh homemade bread and pea soup, and traditional Newfoundland folk singing. It is fair to say that Newfoundland will forever hold a special place in the hearts of all who experienced it on this expedition education adventure.
Calgary - Vancouver - 2016/2017
Expedition Education 2016-17, began with a flight to Calgary and continued to where we left off the year before on our coast-to-coast adventure. A Rocky Mountaineer train journey from Calgary to Vancouver (one of the world’s top-rated rail excursions) took us to the Pacific coast.
There we explored Vancouver and travelled by motorhome to Vancouver Island, exploring Victoria, the island’s stands of giant old growth forests and endless expanses of spectacular beach near Tofino. Whale watching, visits to first nation interpretive centres, amazing galleries and museums and glorious sunsets along Canada’s Sunshine Coast will mark the culmination of an amazing three-year Trans-Canada adventure.
Like our GL5 journey around the Great Lakes, this opportunity for our Grades 6-8 students allowed a number of them to see the entire country in a comprehensive, inter-disciplinary journey. Truly, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore Canada with their friends, on a level not available to any other students.
We embarked on such an ambitious cross-Canada Expedition Education schedule and we look forward to the approach of our twentieth anniversary of the program. In so doing, we will continue to offer the finest model of experiential education available to elementary students anywhere in Canada!
Toronto - Winnipeg - 2015/2016
Expedition Education 2015-16 featured a train journey from Toronto, north of Lake Superior to Winnepeg where we traveled in a motorhome journey culminating in an in-depth exploration of the fascinating geology and natural history of world renowned Banff and Jasper National Parks. Featuring numerous natural wonders and Unesco World Heritage sites, this itinerary was a world-class exploration of some of Canada’s most diverse and rugged terrain.
Maritime Provinces - 2014/2015
Expedition Education 2014-15 we visited the Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia/Cape Breton, New Brunswick and Price Edward Island). This itinerary will include exploring the spectacular Fortress of Louisbourg, The Alexander Graham Bell Museum and estate in Baddeck, the stunning vistas of the Cabot Trail, historic Halifax, the remarkable Bay Of Fundy, home of the world’s highest tides, the beautiful farms and beaches of PEI, home of Anne of Green Gables and Charlottetown, birthplace of Confederation.