Two young men, 150 bucks, a 150th birthday and a stop in Huntsville


Do you recognize these faces? Ori Nevares and Philippe Roberge are 23-year-old UBC graduates and professional photographers who decided to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday with a cross-country trek, starting in Whitehorse, YT and finishing in St. John’s NL and with only $150 in their pocket.

These outgoing and personable fellows have become media darlings, appearing on local and international media as they travel across the country. Canadians have been opening their homes and their wallets to the boys to help them fulfill their dream. At the same time, the young men have been putting their photography skills to work and blogging and posting to Facebook and Instagram about the communities who host them.

Last week they travelled from Toronto to Muskoka, on their way to Algonquin Park. It was by chance that Debbie Knobelsdorf, co-owner of Westside Fish and Chips in Huntsville, was watching the CTV morning news and saw the young men being interviewed. When they mentioned heading to Muskoka she knew she had to reach out and invite them to Huntsville.

“I happened to be watching CTV news,” Debbie said, “and they were interviewing them in Toronto and they said they were coming up to Muskoka. I thought they would be hitchhiking from Bracebridge to Algonquin Park and I figured they would be hungry by the time they got to Huntsville, so I just contacted them through their website and invited them for a meal so at least they had a full belly heading through the park.”

Debbie also helped arrange a ride for them to Algonquin Park. “They said sometimes it takes them two hours just to get a ride so on my Facebook page I asked anybody, ‘hey, happen to be going through the Park to save the kids a thumb?” It wasn’t long before Debbie heard from David Papernick from Port Sydney who hadn’t been planning a trip to the Park but said he would gladly make it for the boys.

On the big day Debbie fed them fish and chips, of course. “I gave them the halibut because that’s the best fish.” She also gave them a big marker, a piece of cardboard and some very valuable advice. “I said, you should be putting – as seen on CTV – so people know who you are.” And with that the boys were off again on their big adventure.

So why did Debbie get off the couch that morning, make contact with the boys and go out of her way to help? Well, if you know Debbie you know that that’s just the kind of thing she does for people. But Debbie says it was more than that. “They reminded me of my son, actually. They are right around his age and he would have done something crazy like that too.”

Thanks to Debbie’s generousity Huntsville is on the map for Expedition 150.

Check out their Facebook page here, their website here and their Instagram account here.

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