Victoria Duffield is a Cross Country Fun Hunt treasure

By Chris Lackner

Canadian kids can bring singer home by nominating their own local fun spot

Canadian kids are being challenged to put their community on the map by winning their hometown a national reputation —— and a special concert performance.

With the help of the country’s youth, host Jordan Francis is uncovering Canada’s coolest spots on CBC Television’s Cross Country Fun Hunt. Between now and December, under-16 youth from across the country can submit their local fun spots at The winning location will earn bragging rights as Canada’s most fun place to visit, and a special concert featuring Francis and Victoria Duffield.

“Kids across the country are going to be looking forward to a fun finale, so I can’t wait to put on a great show for them,” the 17-year-old Duffield said in an interview. “It’s going to be an amazing celebration!”

The TV series, from Apartment 11 Productions, airs every Saturday morning on CBC, and is based on Francis’s cross-country road trip. Francis visited communities across Canada and took part in activities suggested by — and, in many cases, voted on — by kids.

The Toronto-born Francis (Camp Rock) called the adventure the “trip of a lifetime” and said it opened his eyes to the diversity of youth from coast to coast.

“Canada is great. It’s huge! Just don’t stay in one province because it has so much to offer,” he said in an interview. “These Canadian kids . . .they’re crazy, they’re amazing. I did some wonderful things (with them).” Francis’s travel itinerary, as chosen by kids, exposed him to new experiences — from rock climbing in the Rockies to lobster fishing in the Atlantic.

The online contest for Canada’s top fun spot is far from over. During the TV run, kids under 17 can continue to submit a destination by posting videos, photos and writing about the activities they love to do there. They can also enter secret codes from the TV episodes to win a trip to the Fun Hunt concert. Those who enter before Oct. 31 are also eligible to win an iPod touch. In December, fans will vote on 20 top destinations, and the winning entry will earn one child — and their community — the special concert set to air on CBC in March.

“I’m really excited to find out where I’m actually going,” Francis said.

Duffield, who released her debut album, Shut Up and Dance, this summer, echoed his sentiments: “I can’t wait to see what all the people vote (for) as the most-fun,” the Abbotsford, B.C.-native said. “I haven’t seen all of Canada so this could be a treat for me, too. But, who knows, maybe it will be close to where I live!”

Francis also recorded a song for each episode, released weekly on iTunes. The soundtrack will be performed at the grand finale concert and eventually be released as an album.

“All my experiences were definitely influences (on) my songs,” Francis said. “Seeing how diverse the different provinces were definitely gave me some inspiration to add different sounds I wouldn’t normally use.”

Where is Canada’s most-fun spot? With the help of Canadian kids, we’re about to find out.

The CBC’s Cross Country Fun Hunt airs on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. PT, 10 a.m. in Newfoundland)

Chris Lackner is a writer and media consultant with Holmes Creative Communications. His work as a journalist has appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post and Montreal Gazette.