It is indeed a great honour for me as President of Apimondia to write this welcoming letter for the 2019 Congress in Montréal. Canada – a country of diverse beauty from the Atlantic to the Pacific derives its name from the Iroquoian word Kanata, which means village. As a young student in Ireland I was always fascinated by Canada, the reason being that so many of my country men and women left Ireland to set-up a new homes there.
My home county in Ireland is called Monaghan and my neighbouring county is Cavan and on my first visit to Canada some forty years ago place names and villages of these two counties in Ireland were to be seen everywhere throughout Ontario.
On that first visit I met with a beekeeper in Peterborough selling his honey in the local market on a Saturday morning and when I informed him that I was a beekeeper in Ireland his eyes welled up as he was a second generation Irishman who like myself had inherited his love of our most noble of ancient crafts from his dad. We regaled about Ireland and then I began to realise the openness and friendliness of this Canadian and his welcoming of myself to his part of the world. For the Apimondia Congress in 2019 the beekeepers from the rest of the world will be made most welcome in Montréal. What a beautiful city and the Congress will be held in the very centre with easy access to just about everything.
Back to my student days and the three images that stick in my memory were the hockey, the beaver and the RCMP. This may be a strange statement but hockey is like a religion there, it’s the heart and soul of the people. Everywhere I travelled hockey would always come up in the conversation.
My first trip was in the month of September and on my many visits into the countryside one could only be amazed by the beauty of the autumn leaves; over there they call it the ‘fall’. It was on these trips that I encountered my first beaver and to see this wonderful animal built its home with an entrance from under the water was a memory that has stayed with me until today. As for the RCMP, to be honest I didn’t want to meet them in an ‘official’ capacity – well who wants to be stopped by the police, but the ceremonial dress uniform which includes a tight-fitting red coat, riding pants, high black boots, and broad-brimmed felt hat, represent Canada in a most welcoming manner.
The 32nd Apimondia Congress was held in Vancouver in 1999 and is still talked about today, what a wonderful event that was and I have no doubt that the Canadian people and particularly its beekeepers will provide a very warm welcome to beekeepers from all over the world in 2019 and you can all be assured of a most magnificent Congress in the beautiful city of Montréal.