The Peck family grew up in the Sydney River area, but as the five children got older, they began to drift off in their own directions. Now spread across Arizona, Toronto, Antarctica and Australia, it’s not often that brothers Joe, Andy, Kelly, Ian and their sister, Jana, find themselves in the same place at the same time. Though there are always calls on holidays and birthdays and visits between one or two siblings whenever possible, it has been 13 years since all four brothers have been together on their sister’s wedding day.
So, when Joe mentioned wanting to plan something exciting for his 50th birthday, the wheels began to turn, and they decided it would be the perfect opportunity for a brotherly reunion. Joe, who lives in Arizona with his wife and four children, had casually brought up the idea of planning a trip to his brother, Ian, over the phone in 2016. Ian, who works for the adventure agency, One Ocean Expeditions, suggested that Joe come on one of his boat tours of Antarctica. Joe thought the idea was perfect, and the conversation evolved into planning a trip that all four brothers could go on together.
Kelly, a CBU Alumnus now living in Toronto, was totally on board and started planning the logistics. He said things quickly transitioned from “imagine if we did this” to “we’re really doing this,” as the much-needed reunion became a reality and dates were chosen for March 2018.
Passports were updated, flights were booked and before they knew it, the trip was just around the corner! Middle child and another CBU Alumnus, Andy, had the furthest to go, traveling all the way from his home in Melbourne, Australia, to meet his brothers in Argentina, where they would eventually board the ship.
This photo, taken at the Hard Rock Café, shows the first moment all four Peck brothers have been together in 13 years. Joe says, “it’s the best picture of the entire trip.” From left to right, Kelly, Ian, Andy and Joe show off their excited smiles knowing their adventure is about to begin!
As the hours and days passed at sea, the men spent late nights reminiscing about their youth, sharing unheard stories about their family and, of course, playing endless games of tarabish. On the small ship of fewer than 100 passengers, it wasn’t long before everyone was friendly with the four boisterous brothers from Cape Breton Island. They wanted to hear stories about this long-awaited reunion and how it felt to be together after so much time. Joe says the trip was very special for him because as the eldest child, he had gone off to college while the youngest of his siblings were still just kids. “I had forgotten how much of my family’s life I had missed,” he said. “In one night, we caught up on a lifetime of experiences and bonded in a way we never had before.”
One of their most exciting bonding moments was a frigid dip in the Antarctic Ocean, and they have the paperwork to prove it!
Though the Peck brothers have traveled around the world and planted their roots in various places across it, they look fondly on the Island they come from. Joe says this trip only reinforced that pride. “I couldn’t be more proud to be a Cape Bretoner. I’ve always loved the fact that I am from the Island, and I go out of my way to tell people how special it is,” he says. When he found out that Kelly had brought a Cape Breton flag along with him, Joe was thrilled. With each summit they hiked, the four brothers held the flag for a photo with the breathtaking views of Antarctica in the background. Although Kelly hasn’t lived in Cape Breton for nearly 18 years, he shares his brother’s sentiment, saying, “I am who I am because I am a Cape Bretoner. I wouldn’t know what it felt like any other way.”
As their trip wound down, they realized the main takeaway from their incredible expedition was not to let so much time pass before their next reunion. The Peck brothers have already started looking into a 2019 trip to keep the adventure alive.
Andy says his advice to CBU grads is to follow your heart and have a passion to explore life. “Today, the world is an incredibly small place, and you have access to it all, experiencing those things will make your life richer. Then follow your heart back to Cape Breton if that’s where you want to be or onwards to the next adventure.”
Joe’s suggestions? “Think big. Start a business, change the world and make a difference. Live the life of your dreams and make the world a better place!”