Canada is a big place. If you’ve ever travelled to Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Montreal, you know there is a vast amount of culture that makes each city unique. The same can be said for all of the smaller towns across the country. The only difference is you probably haven’t had an opportunity to explore those places–the magical ones like Baffin Island, the community of Haidi Gwaii and Torngat Mountains National Park. But now you have the chance!
Adventure Canada, founded in 1987, aims to bring travellers to Canada’s “blank spaces,” where remoteness makes the beauty that much more spectacular. Landscape, wildlife and culture provide a stunning backdrop for the many Adventure Canada expeditions.
Cedar Swan, CEO of Adventure Canada, is a second-generation family member who works hard to preserve her family’s touring company and share it with the rest of the country. She shared her favourite travel stories with OLM:
When did you first begin travelling?
As a kid our family spent summers up at our cottage and camping. We all loved the outdoors. My first organized travel experience was on my first Adventure Canada trip, Project Arctic Coast, when I was fourteen. It was a life-changing experience. I knew right then and there that travel, the ocean, and connecting with people and nature was the path for me.
What was it that made you fall in love and dedicate your life to adventure and exploration?
On that first expedition I had the opportunity to connect with many amazing individuals. The collective energy, passion, and dedication of our resource team was an inspiration and a catalyst for my life’s direction. At fourteen years old I was wide-eyed and awed by the power of the environment. I was captivated by the ocean. Standing out on the bow of our ship as we sailed towards the icy horizon was a thrill; I truly felt as if I was at the edge of the world. I felt so small, and that was exhilarating—to be a part of something so much larger than myself.
Please describe the process of developing and implementing a new travel excursion.
All of our development stems from passion. Whether it is my personal interest in learning more about a given area, people, or story, or brought forward by my team or dedicated guests, these passions all originate from a genuine interest in exploration. Step one is the passion. Step two is the research, which regularly includes the great pleasure of exploring a new place, festival, or event in person. Step three involves testing the market. We have an amazing group of clients that travel with Adventure Canada, we often put out feelers on new concepts for programming. The ones that are received favourably are the ones to which we devote our energy. Step four gets down to the details—this is when we connect with quality guides and local resources, select our accommodations, and build our themes. Step five is a release to the public. All told, the process ranges from about eighteen months through a couple of years.
What is your favourite part of rolling out a new itinerary?
The research is one of my favourite parts of the process. I love learning about new places, people and customs. Having the opportunity to enrich my own understanding of our world and how we connect to the big picture is a wonderful benefit of my work. To then have a platform from which to share this sentiment with inquisitive minds is a great privilege. An inaugural trip also holds a special place for me. As an example, our pilot project with Parks Canada last year to Sable Island was many years in the making. Each day presented so many delights and satisfying moments. The hard work and persistence that went into the development of that groundbreaking itinerary came to fruition in a way that enriched all parties. Everyone involved came away having bonded over the shared enthusiasm and thrill of witnessing the herds of wild horses, observing the worlds largest grey seal colony, and having the intimate opportunity to learn from and spend time with the stewards of Sable Island. It was truly special.
What does Adventure Canada aim to provide clients?
At Adventure Canada, our aim is always to provide quality, fun, safe, educational programs that enrich the world we touch. We provide a platform for discussion and debate. We hope to create an environment where we can expand our compassion for other people and life ways and the natural world in which we are all so dependant.
What is the best part about your job at Adventure Canada?
Family. Adventure Canada is a family business and I have the great pleasure to work with my immediate and extended family. I love that we create a medium where friends, coworkers, hosts, visitors, and guests are all welcomed into this fold. Our guests return year after year, stating that it is the family feel and quality of programming that brings them back. It is an honour to have so many amazing people in the Adventure Canada family.
It is obvious there is a passion for the Canadian Arctic, east coast regions and Greenland. What inspired this passion?
When my father, Matthew Swan, started Adventure Canada back in 1987, he was drawn to the areas of Canada that had “no lights”. Have a look at imagery of Canada at night; even today, we can see vast areas of our country where the where wilderness prevails. Being in the natural environment—the truly wild places—rejuvenates that soul. It can be unnerving at first, and it regularly takes people a few days to be able to unplug from their daily lives and be able to absorb the grandeur of the north. This grandeur can be overwhelming, but it is also transformative; the enormous open spaces, the warmth of the community welcomes, and the light that sparkles on the ice and casts jagged shadows over mountain ranges and allows for life in this fragile northern ecosystem. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a way that allowed me the opportunity to value and appreciate the road less travelled. I love the north.
Do you have a favourite place to travel to?
My absolute favourite is Labrador. In particular the Torngat Mountains National Park, a place that most people in the world are unaware of. At the northern tip of Labrador this is a land of deep fjiords, towering mountains, polar bear, seal, and ice. It is considered the heart of Nunatsiavut, the Inuit homeland in Labrador. There is something about this place, it has a spirit. I feel completely at peace here.
Is there somewhere in the world you need to explore but have not yet?
There are so many places I’ve yet to travel. I’m looking forward to the sensation overload I’ll experience on my first trip to India. I can’t wait for the colours, the smells, the tastes.
For more information on Adventure Canada, click here.