Following months of steadily building anticipation, excitement and plain hard work, the 2023 National kicked off with the welcome banquet, held on Saturday Sept 16 at the Old Yellow Merville Hall in the beautiful Comox Valley. The development of the area over the past decade for training field dogs has resulted in a location recognized across Canada as being a mecca for trainers and their dogs. Our relatively moderate winter climate has also attracted some retirees from other parts of Canada with interests in dog training.

The Merville Hall and surrounding area has an interesting history. It was built on the current site in 1946 after being burnt down a decade earlier in a fire. The history of Merville itself goes back to 1918 when returning soldiers from WW 1 were offered land in the area. Poorly drained, rocky and forested property awaited them and the resulting backbreaking work to clear enough areas to plant crops and make a living. Dynamite was a favourite tool for clearing stumps and big boulders from fields. Regrettably it didn’t always explode when expected, often to the detriment of  the men working the surrounding fields. The place really hit the map when Edward the Prince of Wales paid a visit in 1919. HRH opened the first school, planted a commemorative tree and blew up a few stumps. He then sailed off in true royal fashion on the royal yacht.

The modern Merville Hall is the centre of the community and has been beautifully decorated for this years National Field trial banquet by our hospitality committee.

Following National Retriever Championship tradition, the head table was ably piped in by Michael Johnson and took their seats. The Master of Ceremonies Daniel Schnitka made his opening remarks, welcoming everyone to the banquet. The Canadian and US National anthems were beautifully sung by Sarah Frost, and a toast proposed to King Charles III and the Office of the President of the United States of America.

The MC continued with the introduction of the head table. From left to right – Lorne Parker (Chair) and Deanna Parker, Colette Prefontaine Didsbury AB, (Western Zone Judge), Darlene Broomhead, Langton ON (Eastern Zone Judge), David Thompson, Brighton ON (Eastern Zone Judge) and his wife Jane Thompson, John Costello, Victoria, BC (Marshall) and his wife Chantal Jacques,  Doug Shepherd (VP NRCC). The judges were presented with their judges pins and judges gifts on behalf of the VIRC. Thank you to PRO PLAN, the official sponsor of the Judges’ travel from Ontario and Alberta.

2023 National pins were also presented to Lorne Parker (National Chairperson), Laura Danforth (National Field Trial Secretary), John Costello (Field Trial Head Marshall) and to Nolan Nelkenbrecher and Doug Shepherd (Assistant Field Trial Marshalls)

Doug Shepherd spoke on behalf of the NRCC offering thanks to the host club Vancouver Island Retriever Club and its membership for working over the past year to bring together an exceptional event.  Thank you to the many members of other local retriever clubs plus members of the community who have also contributed their time and efforts to help with planning and sponsoring events.

Lorne Parker, the National Chairman and President of the VIRC, shared a heart felt thank you to a long list of people including the Landowners, the Judges, Marshall, Auctioneer, and all the contributors to the raffles and silent auction.


A heartfelt thanks to the following landowners. The National would not be a reality without you.

Swamp Dog Farm – Barb and Dwight Loree, Kathy Miner, Danette and Brad Weich
Tom Gurney
Doug Innes
Shelter Point Distillery
Mosaic Forestry Management
Bob Beecham
Terry & Bonnie Ludwig
Bob Evans
Patrick & Kim Evans
Jim & Lisa Casanave


Thank you to the  list of sponsors whose cash and in-kind contributions are essential to the success of this event:

Gold Sponsors:  PRO PLAN Official dog food sponsor and the official dog food supplier to the National Retriever Club of Canada, Garmin the official electronic training collar sponsor.

Silver Sponsors:  Banded – Avery Sporting Dog(ASD), Club Mead Labradors, Nootka Island Lodge,  Serengeti Fishing Charters

Bronze Sponsors:  Dogtra, Heron Game Calls.  Friends of the NRCC: Dakota Creek Retrievers, Kent Cartridge, Canadian Waterfowl Supplies, and Dive Bomb Industries.

Lorne also thanked Kevin Hill and his wife Tosca for their sponsorship of three gunners for the National week, Nolan and Amanda Wannop for their sponsorship and presentation of the banquet and workers dinner, the Courtenay Fish and Game Club and Club Mead retrievers for sponsoring the handlers jackets, Invis Pacific View mortgages,  Coastal Sands Resort for judges accommodation and FINatic Fishing Charters for hosting the judges fishing trip last week.

At the conclusion of the speeches, Laura Danforth offered a beautiful grace for the meal about to be shared, a delicious buffet dinner featuring prime rib and salmon. A sincere thank you to the sponsors and cooks of the wonderful meal. Club members, Nolan and Amanda Wannop, owners of ANW Trucking, ably assisted by Deanna Parker (Lorne’s better half :-),  have continued their tradition of strong committed support to the field trial sport. Nolan and Amanda are sponsoring the National Banquet, as well as the workers party. Thank you to you both, you are the best!

Competitor Introduction and Calcutta Auction

The Calcutta took place as the competitors were introduced and received their 2023 National handler bags.  Thank you to Garmin for providing the official bibs for competitors and test dogs, and Club Mead Labradors for their contribution towards sponsoring the handler jackets.  On behalf of PRO PLAN each entrant will also receive a bag of PRO PLAN dog food.

Instructions from the Chief Marshal:

Starting dog for Test 1 Land Marks is #43!


Test #1 location is Test Site #1 – Swamp Dog Farm

The caravan will leave the community hall @ 7:00am led by club member Al Lanigan.

Daily breakfasts and lunches on site are sponsored by an anonymous sponsor and provided by the  Forbidden Zone Restaurant. Breakfasts are free for all competitors and workers. Lunches are free for workers and $10 for everyone else. Please take advantage of the on site meals and enjoy some excellent West Coast cuisine.



Our Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

Friends of the NRCC Sponsors