4-H for Life!

Mel and Shirley Chamberlain are the lucky grand prize winners of the 4-H Ontario Dream Dinner Lottery (LOTTERY LICENSE #M644571 LICENSEE: ONTARIO 4-H COUNCIL). When I interviewed Mel about winning the grand prize I also learned about his interesting 4-H history including his career and how he met his wife, Shirley. Shirley also joined the conversation and took a couple minutes to add a few details to their tale. Read their story below, as they go from square dancing to world-travelling.


Mel and Shirley grew up in Peterborough County and were both 4-H Members from the time they were 12 until they turned 20, however, at the time they weren’t familiar with each other. “I believe that we were only ever in one Club together, a Grain Club in 1960,” Mel explains. “We met, but we didn’t really know each other, there is even a group photo of the Club from 1960 and we’re both in it,” adds Shirley. Mel and Shirley also both became 4-H Leaders. Shirley certainly had her hands full running up to five 4-H Clubs at once, including Veterinary Clubs, Bread Clubs, Life Skills Clubs and Horse Clubs.

After they left the local 4-H program, Mel and Shirley both moved out of the Peterborough area. Mel finished school and started working for the Ministry of Ontario Agriculture and Food in Wellington County, a career he says was jump-started by his 4-H involvement as a kid. “Essentially I was the 4-H Co-ordinator. Part of my job required working closely along side 4-H Leaders, so I guess you could say I was never too far from the program,” Mel explains. “With [Mel] being such a big part of 4-H, and me running so many Clubs, it’s really amazing that we hadn’t crossed paths at some point or another,” says Shirley. Mel and Shirley both met their spouses, married, and settled down, each having three children of their own; all six of them would later become 4-H Members as well. Years later, after both of their respective spouses had passed away, Mel and Shirley met once again while square dancing. “We decided to be square-dancing partners,” Shirley explains, “and we still square dance together today.”  Mel and Shirley have been married for two years and live in the quiet community of Markdale, Ontario.

There is no doubt in my mind that 4-H is the most important activity I have ever done, it has directed my career and my life

Both retired from their 4-H involvement, Mel and Shirley are still avid supporters of the program. “We still attend the 4-H shows that go on at the local fairs, and we like to make donation here and there,” Mel explains. In fact, one of the ways that Mel and Shirley donate to 4-H is by buying a Dream Dinner Lottery ticket, a donation they have made since the lottery first started. Lucky for them, this year Mel and Shirly were the grand prize winners claiming the prize of “Dinner for Two Anywhere In the World”.

Mel and Shirley Chamberlain
Mel and Shirley Chamberlain of Markdale, Ontario

When Mel looks back on his 4-H history, he remembers many, many good times. “4-H played such a big part in my life,” he explains. “There is no doubt in my mind that 4-H is the most important activity I have ever done, it has directed my career and my life.”

While Mel and Shirley both like to travel throughout the year, they have not yet decided where in the world they wish to celebrate winning the grand prize and have their “Dream Dinner”. With all of their hard work, support and contributions to the 4-H community in the past, these two are both very deserving recipients of the prize. Congratulations Mel and Shirley, and all the best in the future!

Share Your 4-H Story4-H Ontario’s Alumni program is funded through a Promotional Partnership with Hyland Seeds, including the position of 4-H Ontario’s Coordinator, Alumni Services. Hyland Seeds is passionate about agriculture and believes in supporting the people who are deeply rooted in the agricultural industry; dedication to 4-H is proof of this commitment. Thank you Hyland Seeds!

A Northern Adventure

Linda Klages was the lucky winner of the Second Prize of “Dinner for two anywhere in Canada” in the 2011 4-H Ontario Dream Dinner Lottery. She and her husband, Robert chose to go to the Yukon. Thanks Linda for sharing your favourite moments and some great photos too! Check out their story below.

What is your history with 4-H?
Both of our fathers led 4-H clubs. We were both members and both of us have led clubs. Robert was a 4-H dairy leader for many years in Neustadt. Our three children have also all been in our local 4-H calf club. Robert currently looks after the 4-H Invitational dairy show at the Neustadt Fall Fair.

Where did you go for your Dream “Dinner for two anywhere in Canada”?
We had dinner at the Klondike Rib & Salmon BBQ in Whitehorse, Yukon. This “building” is a tent in the same spot that a restaurant in a tent was during the gold rush. Robert had elk and I had Salmon along with a locally brewed beverage. This was the best meal of the trip.

Dinner Venue
Robert in front of the Klondike Rob and Salmon

“The locals start lining up at 4 p.m. to be sure to get a seat. The food was very good. The rafters were full of tools and instruments used in the gold rush.”

Why did you choose the Yukon?
We were choosing between the Yukon and Newfoundland for our trip and knew we wouldn’t have to worry about hurricanes if we went north west!

The Yukon
A spectacular view in the Yukon

How long did you go for?
We left in late August and were gone for 12 days. We flew from Toronto to Calgary and then on to Whitehorse.

Black Bear
Black Bear encounter

“The biggest animal we saw was a black bear on the road while driving. By the end of the week all the trees had turned yellow. The red on the mountains is lichen or bushes – lots of rose bushes with huge rose hips (great bear food).”

What was your favourite part of the trip?
It was a wonderful trip. We had a number of favourite parts of our trip. In Whitehorse the salmon were spawning on the Yukon River and they have the largest wooden fish ladder in the world – 400 yds (366 metres) long. It lets the fish bypass the power dam. They have a window that shows you what are going through the ladder and actually do a count of all the species going through and whether they are stocked fish or wild fish. We also took the White Pass Yukon Rail train from Carcross thru B.C. to Skagway Alaska and back (see picture below). The train goes along the trail that the goldminers would have gone on the Chilkoot Trail in 1898. The scenery is breathtaking.

White Pass Yukon Rail Train trip

“The view down was bordering on breathtaking to just downright scary!”

We rented a car and went as far north as Dawson City. We had a walking tour of the town and visited Dredge #4. The dredge is what leaves the mounds of ground leftover from searching for gold. We also went to the site of the original gold strike – it’s owned by Parks Canada.

Linda panning for gold

“Everyone is welcome to pan for gold on the Bonanza Creek. It’s actually been mined several times by several different methods so no we didn’t find any gold.”

A Turks and Caicos Dream Dinner Lottery Experience

The 4-H Ontario Dream Dinner Lottery (Lottery Licence #M644571 Licensee: Ontario 4-H Council) provides the opportunity to win a trip for two anywhere in the world. In 2011, the grand prize winner for the Dream Dinner Lottery (Lottery Licence #M644562 Licensee: Ontario 4-H Council) was Patricia Giles. Patricia purchased a ticket after her cousin Nadine suggested she do so. Because Nadine’s persuasion was instrumental in the purchase of Patricia’s winning ticket, she decided Nadine would be her +1 for the Dream Dinner. Read on to learn about Patricia and Nadine’s Dream Dinner experience!


Winning the Dream Dinner Lottery was a first for Patricia Giles. “I can win $5 on a scratch ticket but I’ve never won something like this!” she exclaimed. With the help of their travel agent, Judy Anger,  Patricia and her cousin, Nadine selected The Verandah resort in Turks and Caicos as their destination of choice. “We knew we wanted to go somewhere hot, and somewhere special,” explained Nadine. When Judy mentioned that the resort was on one of the top ten beaches in the world, and showed them pictures of this luxurious destination, the Dream Dinner Lottery winners knew this would be the special trip they were after. Nadine and Patricia used their winnings to extend their stay from the weekend to a one week trip.

From start to finish Patricia and Nadine’s trip was nothing short of luxurious. “The entire trip was just extraordinary for us,” Nadine explained. They started off their Dream Dinner experience by flying first class. “Flying first class was a real treat!” said Nadine. “There was real silverware and china, and anything we wanted to drink. It was wonderful! We had never done that before.”

Once they arrived at The Verandah, their extraordinary experience continued. “When they took us to our room it just blew our minds!” shared Nadine. “We were in awe of the room we had. Everything was marble, stainless steel and oak. It was furnished so beautifully it was unbelievable.”

Once settled in to their suite, Patricia and Nadine spent their week at The Verandah lounging by the pool, swimming in the ocean, and eating fabulous meals. They were lucky to have a pool not more then 10 feet away from their room. “The pool was often empty so we mostly had it to ourselves. It was absolutely amazing, we could not believe it,” shared Nadine.

Patricia and Nadine
Patricia, left, and Nadine, right, enjoying dinner at The Verandah

The beach also lived up to it’s reputation. “The beach was just pristine and gorgeous. The sand was very deep and white. The ocean was a beautiful turquoise. It was post card picture perfect,” said Nadine.

Their entire Dream Dinner Lottery experience was one they will never forget. When asked what their most memorable moment was Nadine said that it was a tie between flying first class and that initial jaw dropping moment when they saw their room. “This trip was very special, and it was something we wouldn’t have been able to do without winning the Dream Dinner Lottery. This place really was just extraordinary,” Nadine said. Thank you Patricia and Nadine for sharing your Dream Dinner Lottery story .

Tickets for the 2012 Dream Dinner Lottery are on sale now. More information about the lottery, and terms and conditions can be found here >