There are many faces behind the warm welcome visitors receive in communities across Canada. From baristas and brewers to designers and festival directors to historians and hotel owners, the richness of our diversity—and our niceness—can all be found in Canada’s tourism industry.
Get to know the people who keep our country’s heart beating strong.
"This summer’s lockdown could have been devastating to Indigenous Fashion Week (IFW), typically held in Toronto, but looking back it actually helped me expand. Closed borders restricted participation by international Indigenous designers was disheartening. However the trust shown by so many who shipped their art across the country allowed the IFW to go ahead and attracted an expanded virtual audience with four runway films, 10 panel discussions and an online marketplace, which sold out in one day!
It is so important to me that we are not seen as selling trends, but injecting meaning into Indigenous art and fashion by putting the intergenerational stories told by makers, artists, hunters, weavers and other members of the design community centre stage. Storytelling at this level can be more powerful in person and I hope that when IFW returns in two years, it will marry the best of both the virtual and in-person worlds."
"Timing was not on my side when I launched a series of tiny vacation cabins perched on a wooded lot in Whitehorse. Despite the challenges of last year, I discovered the demand is there. The Yukon and the North attract a unique type of visitor who embrace the environment and celebrate innovative design that supports the conservation of nature.
My love of design and creating spaces for people to meet and enjoy nature is what drew me to launch a tourism business. The cabins are considered a ‘landscape hotel’ for the eco-attributes and ability to blend in, allowing the surrounding natural beauty to be fully experienced. The uniqueness of the design–the small 300-sq-ft-size allowed me to invest in higher end touches–has garnered significant interest and word of mouth is spreading. For me, the future of tourism is still bright and an important part of my community."
Christina Coady and her husband Chris Conway, brewers and owners of Landwash Brewery in Newfoundland.
"My husband and I never thought we could come home from Toronto to work but when we saw Newfoundland and Labrador’s craft beer industry heating up, we knew we had to get in fast.
Landwash is a term for the beach, where the sea meets land; where families and friends come together. Mount Pearl, a neighbouring city to St John’s, is surrounded by other towns and essentially landlocked. So, we have created our own “beach” and our own community gathering place where all are welcome.
Without the collaboration of the local craft beer community, we would not have made it through the pandemic. We believe a rising tide raises all boats. Together we advocated for online retail and curbside pick-up. We began canning and selling our beer across the province and the local support is fantastic. We are very proud of Newfoundland and Labrador’s craft beers and tap rooms, and we can’t wait to share them with the world."
"We didn’t know what to expect on the opening day of our summer market. Over 1,000 people showed up. That was my first ‘wow’ moment. Then I knew we’d found a home here in Edmonton.
Our recent weekend e-marketplace attracted over 3,000 people and we hope to expand it into a year round platform. We have created a safe place for Black people across Edmonton to share their culture and their businesses. These entrepreneurs face barriers in business such as fair access to venture capital funding, and we just wanted to remove as many as possible so they can be successful.
We were inspired by the Black Owned Market in Calgary, and our goal is to expand to other cities across the country. We provide a way for locals and visitors to experience our diverse culture in a safe and inclusive space. It’s very special knowing our market is a catalyst to connection between Black-owned businesses and the larger community, one that can thrive during and after the pandemic."
"Nunavut will always be my home. The tattoo on my chin is a reflection of who I am, it shows my love and pride of Inuit culture.
My soap company, Uasau, reaches people from far away and spreads my love of Nuna [a term used by the Inuit to mean an authentic Inuit land], the land, sea, sky and memories that surround me. Uasau allows me to share our old ways with the new. Over 100 years ago, we lost the bowhead whale from our waters. Today the bowhead oil we use in our soap is liquid gold—-, it is that healing.
People all over the world are learning about the North and they want to be part of the beautiful change happening here. They want to learn of a story that is older than Canada. When visitors come back, I will take them on the land, share my culture and show how powerful it is. It is our time now."
Desmond Mentuck is an Interpretation Coordinator for Parks Canada in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba.
"I am an Anishinaabe interpreter for Parks Canada and it is important for me to share my language and stories of the land. I love how these stories connect with visitors, particularly children. Everyone is here to learn, they soak it up. They come thinking it is about history, but it is also about the present and the future. I hope our stories add meaning to their lives for years to come.
This year has brought a major change to our world. I reflect on what it must have been like when the pandemic hit 100 years ago, how we survived then and are surviving now. My hope is that my children and my community continue to protect our language, our land and our way of life. We must remember how this keeps us resilient and we must share our knowledge."
Pooja Rajmohan is the Director of Sales at The Algonquin Resort - Autograph Collection in St Andrew's, New Brunswick.
"I am lucky to have worked in large global cities, and to call myself a global nomad. Having lived in Fiji most recently, I was looking for a change and The Algonquin Resort and St. Andrews by the Sea called to me—it is a place like nowhere else. Having lived in some of the most populated places in the world, this elegant seaside town surrounded by nature has only 1800 people. Here you have the luxury of space.
Since I arrived earlier this year, never have I felt so welcome, so included and already, it is home. Perhaps it is because this town thrives on tourism. We have a symbiotic relationship. If the Algonquin is successful, the town is successful.
This year we were humbled by the faith New Brunswickers had in us by choosing to visit. Many had never experienced our 130 years of history and our vibrant seaside town. Next year we hope to welcome back more Canadians and global visitors. We can’t wait to share our maritime hospitality with the world."
David Paterson is the General Manager and Winemaker at Tantalus Winery in Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
“I grew up and did my wine making training in New Zealand. Canada wasn’t even really on my radar, but I came back to my birthplace of BC for love and was surprised by the richness of community I discovered in the Okanagan. There is also something very compelling about the balance of fruit, acid and young vines that are getting older—all the things we need to craft wines of longevity that you don’t see in many established wine regions. Both are keeping me here.
I count the entire restaurant industry as my community. They have been integral to our success at Tantalus. Many small restaurants, bars and local wineries rely solely on visitors to buy their food and wine. I was really proud of Canadians this year for taking the opportunity to explore their own backyards. Their reactions to what we had to offer at the winery were amazing. While we saw fewer people, we saw many for the first time and we had the opportunity to really share our story and the story of BC wine.”
Meet Marie-Ève and Judith
Marie-Ève Cournoyer and Judith St-Pierre are the Founders and Fly Fishers at La pêche est belle in Charlevoix, Quebec
"When we’re on the river together, we talk about beautiful things. Life is all around us: nature, friendship, wildlife. When women fish together, there is no pressure, no stress. We were surprised by the demand. Everywhere there are women who want to learn to fish. We have a waiting list! It used to be fathers and sons, now it is mothers and daughters. We are changing the world of fly fishing.
This summer was hard on us, there was so much uncertainty. We had to cancel a lot of trips and re-imagine the experience. In the future, our hope is to expand across Canada. For now, we have our favourite rivers to visit but there are many more in Canada to discover. Our dream is to share our passion for fishing with women across the country. Tourism is our future."
Meet Captain Perry
Captain Perry Gotell is the Owner, Operator & Captain at Tranquility Cove Adventures in Georgetown, Prince Edward Island
"I was a third-generation fisherman and it was a fantastic life. Then I saw an opportunity and branched out to start taking visitors to a local island where my family spent summers. I discovered all these stories locked up within me and it was such a joy to share them. Storytelling is as big a part of my business as digging and cooking clams, and I found a way to make it my job. I was in that sweet spot where I was making money loving what I was doing—introducing visitors to the island I call home and sharing the history of my family.
With a view of the water from wherever you stand in town, coastal Georgetown is an idyllic place for our business. Home to 500 people, we have all worked together and built a special place. You see visitors in the restaurants, playhouse and gift shops because it is a cool spot to hang out. Sadly we lost much of that this year; it was a kick to the community. But we will hang on. We need each other more than ever now."
Though now might not be the right time to travel, there are many meaningful ways to support businesses in your community. Share these stories to spread the love, visit local businesses near you and start travelling further afield when it’s safe to do so. We’re confident you’ll be welcomed back with open arms and glowing hearts.