TORONTO — Larry and Lorna Hundt, founders of motorcoach and tour operator Great Canadian Holidays & Coaches, have received the Meritorious Service Medal, one of the highest levels of distinction an individual can receive in Canada.
Canadian Governor General Julie Payette presented the medal to the Hundts during a ceremony at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.
During the ceremony, nearly 60 remarkable Canadians were recognized for their excellence, courage or exceptional dedication to service with one of the following honors: the Order of Canada, Decorations for Bravery, Meritorious Service Decorations, and the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.
The Meritorious Service Medal was established by Queen Elizabeth II to recognize the extraordinary people who make Canada proud.
Lorna and Larry Hundt were nominated and selected for the award for their commitment to promoting Canadian unity and pride.
That commitment began on the night the 1995 Quebec referendum was defeated by a margin of only 1 percent. The referendum asked voters in the French-speaking province to proclaim national sovereignty and make Quebec an independent country.
After the referendum failed, the Hundts decided to do everything they could to remind Canadians of all they have to be proud of and what makes the country great.
They dedicated their motorcoach fleet to Canada, with vibrant exterior graphics including Great Canadian Women, Our Nation Builders, Great Canadian Moments, Lest We Forget and Canadian Sports Achievements.
“Lorna and I feel incredibly honored to be recognized for the one thing that we both consider to be the most important part of our careers,” Larry Hundt said. “Many have thought that our Canadian-themed coaches were the result of a marketing strategy. However, the decision to dedicate our coaches to Canada was an emotional one that was made the night of the 1995 Quebec referendum.
“From that day forward, we branded all our coaches with various Canadian themes to showcase the many things that make our country great and to encourage Canadians to feel pride in their country,” said Hundt, who is a member of the United Motorcoach Association board representing Canada.
“The impact of that decision is impossible to measure, but despite its intangible nature, it quickly became part of our company culture,” he said.