People of Georgian: Retired Tourism prof finds ‘Fountain of Youth’ at college
October 16, 2020

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The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Paul Burton

My first year at Georgian is still very memorable in my mind because it was wild, particularly the first semester.

I was back here in Ontario in August 1983 when I had a job interview at Georgian.

I accepted the job, had to go back to Whitehorse, sell our house, pack up, and two weeks later I was back here teaching at the college.

And we had a baby in January that year.

All of that was also before online learning, so students were pretty well going to the program co-ordinator with any questions while I was away, but they took it all in stride.

I always had really good students; I’d feed off their positive energy.

When I started at Georgian, the Tourism program was in its infancy.

The very first class was in 1981, and I came in 1983, so I met the first graduating class of the program and taught them in their third year.

From whitewater rafting, to international travel

I’m passionate about working with young people, and we wanted them to get first-hand experience with the tourism industry.

I’ve always been a big fan of adventure travel and eco-tourism, so we had some pretty memorable trips to Ottawa to do whitewater rafting.

I helped other staff take students to Algonquin Park, usually in the fall for canoeing.

Every spring we would take them kayaking on Georgian Bay, and for a few winters in a row we would take them dogsledding for two nights in the wilderness at the north end of Algonquin Park.

On the educational front, I helped develop some pretty amazing tourism training programs that ended up going to different countries around the world, as well as some articulation agreements for programming in Alberta, Germany and Costa Rica.

One of our faculty members used to say that when he started at Georgian College he thought he had found the Fountain of Youth, and I think maybe there’s truth to that.

A person sits on a couch and looks at the camera, while holding an award in one hand and petting a dog with the other.

Paul Burton, retired after 34 years as a professor in Georgian’s Tourism program. He won the Professor Emeritus award at our 2020 Board of Governors’ Awards of Distinction.

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