About

The Canadian Company of Pilgrims (CCoP) is a non-denominational volunteer-run association that supports Canadians interested in the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. We share the Canadian representation with l’Association du Québec à Compostelle.

The CCoP provides information and generates awareness and interest in the Camino through a network of chapters across Canada and also through its website and Facebook page. Local Chapters provide a forum for the exchange of information about the Camino and also offer practical training and information sessions.

The CCoP is also part of an international network of similar organizations operating locally and nationally throughout the world.

Our Mission: To share our love of the Camino, inspiring and enabling others on their Way
Our Vision: A vibrant, engaged and inclusive Camino community
Our Values: Open, generous, hospitable

Board of Directors

Lauren Rendle, President (Calgary)
Tim Boreham, Vice President (Ottawa)
Barb Smith, Treasurer (Saskatoon)
Julie Rosenthal, Secretary (Victoria)
David Duncan, Co-Board/Chapter Liaison (Hamilton)
David Ramsay (Halifax)
Dennis Garnhum (Toronto)
Donna Coutts (Vancouver)
Dori Antolin (Toronto)
Judy Colombi (Ottawa)
Lea Pennock (Saskatoon)
Robert (Robin) Inglis (Vancouver)
Tom Friesen (London)

CCoP Newsletter Pilgrim Footprints
David Ramsay, Colleen O’Toole, Susan Purney Mark – co-editors

Honorary Patron
His Excellency Alfredo Martínez Serrano, Ambassador of Spain (message)

Board Committees

Communications Committee (Contact Chair)
Ensures both external and internal communications are coordinated, timely, and inclusive and creates additional value for members.
Sub Committee:

  • Member Benefits Committee
    Identifies, recruits, and manages the delivery of member benefits.

Finance Committee (Contact Chair)
Assists the Board in its’ responsible stewardship of the organization’s finances including providing advice in the development of relevant policies and procedures.
Sub Committees:

  • Donations Committee
    Coordinates and distributes funds received from donations and allocations from CCoP.
  • Investment Committee
    Manages the funds for the Lifetime investment fund.

International Engagement Committee (Contact Chair)
Engages with the greater Camino community.

IT Committee (Contact Chair)
Manages and maintains the CCoP IT systems.

Nominations and Governance Committee (Contact Chair)
Ensures that vacancies on the Board of Directors are filled in a fair and timely manner, and develops and maintains effective governing structures.

Camino Spirit Fund

We know that many of our members are looking for ways to ‘give back’ to the Camino. The Canadian Company of Pilgrims operates a donation-based Camino Spirit Fund that supports the Camino by meeting short-term needs or funding larger projects that relate to services along the Camino de Santiago routes. Funds may be used to help with operating costs like replacing bedding and furniture, to pay for renovations, or to meet unexpected costs such as purchasing a new boiler. Go to our Donate page to learn more about ways to ‘give back’. Donating is easy and simple. Just sign in as a member, and upon payment by credit card, you will receive a “Thank You” confirmation email. As a Canadian non-soliciting Not-for-Profit Corporation, the Canadian Company of Pilgrims cannot issue a tax receipt, and can accept donations only from members. Sign up to become a member.

A Brief History of The Canadian Company Of Pilgrims

The Canadian Company of Pilgrims was founded in 1994 by Reverend Ben Lochridge, an Anglican priest whose dream was to walk the Camino. His dream was realized when, as a rector of Saint Paul’s in Mississauga, he took a paid sabbatical leave and in April of 1994 he and his wife, Vivian, received the pilgrim’s blessing at Saint James Cathedral in Toronto and headed straight to the airport. They started their Camino in Le Puy, France and Ben arrived in Santiago in June.

Upon returning to Canada Ben was interviewed by the Toronto Star and received many phone calls from people asking about this mythical, mystical, magical journey he had taken. However, his first presentation that consisted of 350 slides drew little interest, so in true Camino fashion, he and his friend, Mike Henry, hiked to the nearest bar. Undaunted, Ben and Mike drafted a constitution to set out the parameters of the group that they called the Little Company of Pilgrims.

In the years that followed, the gatherings grew in size and developed a basic organization that provided support for Canadians preparing for, and returning from, the Camino. By 2006 the Little Company of Pilgrims out grew its name and it was changed to the Canadian Company of Pilgrims (CCoP). The CCoP received the backing of the oldest and largest English-speaking Camino group, the London, UK-based Confraternity of St James, and the right to issue credentials recognized by the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela.

From 2000 – 2008, the CCoP under the leadership of Barbara Cappucitti, established new chapters in Victoria and Surrey, BC, Edmonton, Alberta, London and Ottawa in Ontario, and Saint John, New Brunswick. Austin Cooke took over as president from 2008 – 2015 and the CCoP expanded further, as the word about the Camino spread across the country. From 2016 – 2019, with Wendy Loly at the helm, the CCoP grew to 16 chapters. In March 2018, the CCoP had its first ever conference of chapter coordinators in Victoria, BC.

In 2019, the Canadian Company of Pilgrims celebrated its 25th anniversary. Since its founding, the CCoP has issued over 20,000 credenciales and is now over 3,000 members strong, with 18 chapters across Canada. The CCoP looks forward to the next twenty five exciting years!

This message is from our Honorary Patron, His Excellency Alfredo Martínez, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to Canada

H.E. ALFREDO MARTÍNEZ, AMBASSADOR OF THE KINGDOM OF SPAIN TO CANADA

I would like to greet you all and to thank wholeheartedly each one of you for keeping the Camino alive and flourishing in Canada.

We have learned much in coming through this pandemic and I want to share some reflections about the values and lessons that all of us- because I have also been a pilgrim myself – have learned from the Camino:

The Camino grants you, as a wonderful gift, the opportunity for introspection. Walking in the middle of nature; following a path towards the end; sharing time with yourself to allow you to depart from the rush of a busy life which has an effect on us every day.

The Camino is a gorgeous chance to encounter nature, culture and art. Since the first pilgrimage by King Alfonso II of Asturias in the IX century, the human spark seeking beauty and transcendence has built the Camino. This approach is still there, alive and vibrant.

The Camino is a wonderful opportunity to meet others. People from different countries, backgrounds and motivations all come together on the Camino. Everything pushes you to see the best in one another.

The Camino is definitely an energizing exercise. Walking many kilometres a day you really feel how many material things are superficial. You Canadians know better in this wintertime than anybody else because you are compelled to live with layers. Sometimes we put them on as we need them in life but we can never ever forget the authenticity of the need to go deep into our souls to seize what really matters, what is essential, what makes us better. Stage after stage you find yourself getting rid of that which is not necessary, and you begin to focus on fundamentals.

All this happens because the Camino is a metaphor for life and, whatever the motivations might be – and they are as many as the pilgrims you will find on the way – we need to answer at least once in life this central question that asks us: what is the sense of life?; what is its meaning?

As a Spaniard and as Ambassador of Spain, my country which I greatly love and to which I devote my professional life, it is an honour to welcome and embrace the Camino that, as a gift, offers us the possibility to enjoy, suffer, learn, open our hearts and minds and make us grow.

Many in the western world are puzzled by the extraordinary survival of this pilgrimage from the beginning of the 9th century until today. The traditional Jacobean welcome is one of the essential values that explain its survival and its flourishing. This welcome is a powerful expression of hospitality. There are no defined physical limits or borders, since the Camino is wherever a pilgrim to Santiago is welcomed regardless of the route followed.

I have the honour to be patron of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims, which has produced a pocket-sized card as a guide for pilgrims. The card outlines principles of kindness to fellow pilgrims and one’s hosts; respect for the land, people, and culture, and fellow pilgrims and hosts; and the importance of openness and curiosity during the pilgrimage.

When everyone is looking forward, after lockdowns and the need for patience, to rediscovering the world, nothing could be better than the Camino which waits for all of us.

Thank you very much once again and you know that the doors of the Spanish Embassy are fully opened up for you. We really feel proud and grateful to Canada and to the Canadian Company of Pilgrims that, as I underlined at the beginning, is really keeping the Camino alive and going beyond.

Canadian Company of Pilgrims