A brief introduction to the Spirit Bear Lodge guides and operations staff
As a community owned and operated eco-cultural tourism business on BC's beautiful central coast, the Spirit Bear Lodge mandate is to provide economic benefits and sustainable local employment to residents of Klemtu.
Most of our guides, boat operators, cooks and housekeeping staff are all year round residents in Klemtu and are proud to be providing unforgettable experiences to guests from around the world. Guests who travel to ancestral lands of the Kitasoo/Xai'xais in search of an authentic, aboriginal tourism in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest will be welcomed with the warm hospitality of not only our staff, but also the residents of this remote village on BC's Inside Passage. All of our guides are certified in marine and wilderness first aid.
Tim McGrady - General ManagerTim is the General Manager of Spirit Bear Lodge. He brings over twenty years of diverse experience in the tourism industry.
After completing a degree in biochemistry at the University of British Columbia in 1990, Tim began guiding sea kayak expeditions moving between Baja, Mexico’s Sea of Cortez in the winter and the west coast of Vancouver Island in the summer. He also led month long sailing, hiking and sea kayak expeditions for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Mexico, Alaska and coastal BC.
After a brief stint on faculty in the Tourism Department of North Island College on Vancouver Island, Tim began working at Knight Inlet Lodge, leading bear viewing and whale watching excursions. While at Knight Inlet Lodge he helped establish the Commercial Bear Viewing Association (CBVA) in collaboration with a number of other top bear viewing companies in BC.
After completing a Masters degree in Leadership from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC in 2007, Tim took a hiatus from the tourism industry to work as a leadership development consultant in Latin America. Now back home in BC, Tim is looking forward to working with the Spirit Bear Lodge team and the Kitasoo/Xaixais community in Klemtu to continue building Spirit Bear Lodge into a world class international tourism destination. In the off-season, Tim lives with his wife Kelli and two boys Connor and Kai in Comox.
Vern Brown - Guide
Vernon Brown is a Spirit Bear Lodge guide and cultural interpreter. Vernon is of Kitasoo ancestry and has spent much of his life in Klemtu. Vernon has been working with Spirit Bear Lodge for the past five years and has also worked with some of the most notable scientists, naturalists, and cultural and ethno geographers. He is a knowledgeable and experienced tour guide and he enjoys sharing knowledge with guests. Vernon is a qualified bear-viewing guide with the Commercial Bear Viewing Association and holds other industry certifications including wilderness first aid.
Charlie Mason - Boat CaptainCharlie has been working with Spirit Bear Lodge since 1999 and is a hereditary chief of the Xai’xais First Nation. Charlie is our tourism boat operator, guide and amazing storyteller of his people’s history. Charlie’s quiet confidence is apparent in all of his interactions with guest, who listen attentively to his stories as they travel throughout the vast traditional territory of his people.
Charlie, who has lived in Klemtu his entire life, is the head of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Spirit Bear Song and Dance Group, who perform in the Klemtu Big House, as well as at cultural events throughout the province of British Columbia .
Along with his role in tourism in the summer season, Charlie manages the Robinson/Mason grocery store throughout the year. He holds Small Vessel Operators Proficiency certificate and marine advanced first aid certificate.
Murray Barton - Boat Captain
Murray, aka 'Moose', is one of the skippers of our tourism vessel. Raised in Klemtu since he was a young boy, Murray loves nothing more than guiding guests in Kitasoo/Xai’xais territory. As he puts it, “The ocean is my playground.” He brings ample experience and enthusiasm to the position. Murray has had a varied career in construction and infrastructure maintenance with the Kitasoo Band Council.
Philip Charles - GuideGrowing up in the town of Ipswich, in the United Kingdom, Philip's love for nature took him to nearby Otley College where he completed a National Diploma in Animal Management. This love affair then took him to the University of Cumbria where he studied Animal Conservation Science with the National School of Forestry. Modules on his degree program included conservation biology, ecology, animal behaviour, behavioural ecology, behavioural applications for conservation and a final year thesis that explored predator-prey relationships in barn owls (Tyto alba). He graduated in 2011. While at University, Philip also completed an intensive study program in the Pindos National Park, Greece and an Applied Field Studies module in Bandhavgarh National Park, India. In addition to his guiding work, Phil works closely with the Spirit Bear Research Foundation and runs the youth oriented SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) program in Klemtu
Cael Cook - Guide
Cael Cook was born and raised in Banff, Alberta. He has a degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Victoria as well as a passion for photography and bears that stems from his Canadian Rockies hometown. Cael has been guiding at Spirit Bear Lodge for two years and is happy to answer any questions about photography in the Great Bear Rainforest!
Christopher Arends - Assistant GuideDedicated to the outdoors, Chris spent ten years with the Canadian military learning many survival skills. After leaving the military, Chris went back to school and recently graduated from the Coastal Adventure Tourism program at North Island College in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. Through this program he has gained certification in Small Vessel Operation, Wilderness First Aid, VHF Radio Operation, and Marine Emergency Duties, as well as sailing, kayaking and canoeing certifications. Having spent so much time in the outdoors, he is excited for the opportunity to share his extensive knowledge with others. He also loves animals and photography which makes Spirit Bear Lodge the perfect place to be!
Krista Duncan - GuideKrista Robinson, born and raised in Klemtu, is a guide at Spirit Bear Lodge. She also happens to be the proud mother of four children. She is certified as a small vessel boat operator and has extensive training and certification in Advanced First Aid and is licensed as an EMR Paramedic Level 1. Krista is also active as a Field Technician with the non-profit Spirit Bear Research Foundation. Her prior experience includes work with the local health clinic and five years with Marine Harvest Canada. She loves being outdoors and amongst wildlife and loves sharing that passion with others. She looks forward to making new friends and helping our guests create lifelong memories here in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Nolan Gagnon - Head ChefNolan has many years experience working as a chef and baker in some of the most remote areas of Canada. One of his passions as you can see from his bio photo is baking bread. His work has taken him into a variety of other First Nations community before Klemtu, including with the Gitanyow and Kitsumkalum in Northern BC and the Inuktitut on East Baffin Island in the Canadian High Arctic. He is passionate about working and travelling to remote areas and meeting new people and learning about new lands and the heritage of the people who inhabit them. Spirit Bear Lodge is very pleased to have a chef of Nolan's caliber working with us to create memorable experiences in our dining room.
Colleen Starr - Head of HouseColleen works year round in the operation. During tourism season, she does a little bit of everything from working in the kitchen to housekeeping to acting as evening hostess. She has even been known to fill in as acting assistant manager! In our tourism off-season, Colleen attends to housekeeping for all of the government and corporate guests who stay at Spirit Bear Lodge in Klemtu during the winter. She describes her passion as her family and friends, playing volleyball, going for walks, boating and going fishing with her husband Paul. Colleen's daughter Leanne also works at Spirit Bear Lodge in the dining room. At the end of the day, when all our boats are back in dock, she enjoys listening to them tell tales about their day's adventures.
Leanne describes her "absolute favourite thing in the world" as seeing bears. She says, "Nothing compares to being out and about in nature and getting to see my favourite animal in the world!" She also loves looking up at the moon and the stars on clear Klemtu nights. She enoys reading and writing stories. Leanne's mother Colleen is a housekeeper at Spirit Bear Lodge. She describes her heritage as a unique combination of First Nations, East Indian and Irish. Leanne is currently pursing an education is Tourism Management at North Island College in Comox.
Leanne Reandy - Guest Services - Dining Room
Elissa Crouse - Assistant Guide
Elissa was born and raised in Eastern Canada but fell in love with the west coast before she even had a chance to lay eyes on it. After studying the coastal temperate rainforest at university, it became her goal to make this magical part of the world her new home. Now she lives to explore it's wild places.
George is a gentle giant of a man who loves to lead interpretive tours of the Kitasoo/Xaixais Big House for both Spirit Bear Lodge guests and for tourists who ply the Inside Passage on private yachts and sailboats. His father was the well-respected elder Francis Robinson and it is from Francis that George has learned much about his Xaixais ancestry. George was born in Klemtu and is a proud member of the Spirit Bear Performance Group who perform drumming and dancing at potlatches and village feasts. He also works in the kitchen at Spirit Bear Lodge.
George Robinson - Big House Tour Leader / Chef's Assistant
Rye Green - GuideRye says that taking people into the wilderness of the BC coast feels like welcoming guests into his home, especially while sharing a mug of hot tea on a rainy day.
An outdoor instructor, guide, and naturalist, his passion for helping people young and old experience the natural world emerged from a delightfully semi-feral upbringing in the coastal rain forests and mountains of Western Canada. From the days of "salmon-berry freedom" as a child, to working professionally as an outdoor leader specializing in self-propelled activities like hiking, mountaineering, canoeing and kayaking, for over twelve years.
Rye brings a cornucopia of experiences and knowledge to our team, and he is never happier than when sharing new discoveries in nature with guests and students. Having built his leadership foundation as a graduate of the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Program (COLT) on Vancouver Island in 2002, Rye has enriched his offerings as an interpreter of the Great Bear Rainforest by completing a degree in Indigenous Studies, a diploma in Intercultural Education, as well as a long list of certifications and technical trainings as a guide. His greatest passions as investigating and communicating about the awe-inspiring complexities of the ecology of 'the coast', including a particular focus on the roles that humans play as permanent members of the great family of life here, in the last great temperate rainforest on the planet. Oh! and he thinks bears are pretty neat too!
Linda recently participated in the culinary course Chef Gagnon ran this past spring and since then she has thrived in the Spirit Bear Lodge kitchen. When not helping our kitchen put out the delicious meals for guests and staff, Linda enjoys spending time with her family and friends and taking care of her two beautiful children Noah and Lisa.
Linda Hopkins - Chef's Assistant
Jack Reandy - Assistant GuideJack has worked for Spirit Bear Lodge for the past two years. He loves to play sports but most of all he loves to get on the boats and into the territory to see the bears! Another emerging passion for Jack is his story telling and can often be found sharing the "Under Water Big House" story to guests.
Katherine Neasloss - Housekeeper
While Katherine was born in Terrace, BC, both her parents were originally from Klemtu and moved back to raised her and her siblings at a young age. Katherine is an avid walker and can often been seen with her children Tyson and Shaelyn out around Klemtu. The first time she ever saw a Spirit Bear was when she was in Kitamat on a punt and it was so close she could almost touch it. They watched it for 3 hours as it ate fish. In her words..."It was awesome!"