Mary LaRocque found her passion for helping people’s travel dreams come true early on and strives to ignite that passion in others through mentorship.
Her first contact with the industry came as a teenager working summers on Hill Island for Ontario Travel, helping provide traveler itineraries and destination advice.
She quickly realized how much she enjoyed helping people make the most of their holidays and attended Sir Sandford Fleming College for the Travel and Tourism program in 1981 where she also took a liking to volunteering with the Student Administrative Council. Even before finishing college, LaRocque was offered a job with Dawn Travel, which began her career working for various travel agencies in Peterborough.
When the opportunity arose to own her own business, she jumped at the chance in 2004, buying what is now Marlin Travel (formerly Thomas Cook) and she never looked back. This year marks 38 years for LaRocque in the travel industry, 18 as a business owner.
LaRocque is proud to share its years of experience and knowledge with the next generation of travel enthusiasts.
“I have a knack for chatting, I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone many times,” she jokes.
She has mentored many Fleming students over the years, as well as accepted co-op students from local schools and has spoken at events.
“It’s really important to encourage and mentor young people to stay in the community, work in the community and be active members of the community.
The businessman also sits on Marlin Travel’s Franchise Advisory Board, also sharing his expertise with others in his field.
LaRocque is a member of the Fleming College Alumni Committee, a member of the Women’s Business Network, and past President, and Past President of the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. LaRocque won the Women in Business award in 2008 and the Business Citizen of the Year award in 2014. Through her business, she also proudly supports various sports teams including Kawartha Disabled Hockey Komets and the Peterborough Petes.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly been terrible for the travel industry, LaRocque hasn’t been deterred, leaning into a new business model with its Travel n Style boutique, selling apparel and related items. to travel and even helping another franchisee to develop an additional source of income by creating a store of their own.
“Not only was the shop a way to make money during the pandemic, but it was a mental lifeline,” she says.
Over the past two difficult years, LaRocque notes that his three-person team has been a huge source of support and they are all hoping for a return to some sort of normalcy in the near future.
“Helping people get to their dream destination has been absolutely amazing,” she notes, reflecting on her career so far.
“Just seeing the expressions on their faces, when they see their first lion on safari while I’m touring is priceless.”
The Northern and Eastern Ontario Business Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will recognize 11 outstanding business leaders at its seventh annual ceremony on May 26 at the Loomex Group Hangar at Peterborough Airport . In addition to LaRocque, inductees include Vanessa Oake Hogan of Century 21 United Realty Inc., Eric and Marlaine Bennett of Bennett’s Home Furniture and Mattresses, Ken Blow and John and Glenda Lavery of KADEX Aero Supply, Ray Kapoor formerly of The Black Horse Pub , Peter McLean of Simon & Associates Inc., David and Kimberly Morello of Morello’s Your Independent Grocer, Peter Norris formerly of Holiday Ford, Bill Lockington of LLF Lawyers LLP, Michael Santos of Mecedes-Benz Peterborough and Ian Scates of Central Smith.