Invictus and Red Dragon
It just occured to me that you live in Calgary... you should try and get in touch with Stan Shultz! If he can't get you over your arachnophobia then I don't know who could.
Stan Shultz is a god when it comes to keeping/raising tarantulas. He and his wife co-authored "The tarantula keepers guide" which is basically the bible when it comes to keeping spiders in captivity. I don't want to speak on Stan's behalf, but I know that he is usually quite happy to bring people in and show them his collection (before his wife was ill he had around 1500 specimens) He would show you more in an hour than you could probably learn in a week on the internet.
Just a thought if you think it may help.
Yah but have you ever smelled cheese? Some of it stinks eh?