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We employ experienced local holiday leaders boasting impressive credentials. Newfoundland and Labrador presents dozens of logistical challenges for anybody coordinating a tour or learning holiday. There are travel routes without public washrooms or other basic services yet these areas feature sites of international significance and world-class life experiences. These areas can lack the support of even a simple plaque or sign. Our years of experience have introduced us to many vital resource people - whether it be someone with a good well willing to provide visitors with a clean washroom or a retired fisherman who protects the “secret” nesting site of an endangered bird. Other vital resource people are associated with our parks, museums, and other protected areas. It has taken years to gather our knowledge and every year our leaders and guests make new discoveries and contributions. Our leaders are our most important resource people as they show visitors the anchor site of the Mayflower, the northern tip of the Appalachian Mountains and other local highlights. This sort of knowledge doesn’t usually make it into the travel information books - unless one of our Wildland Tours staff or resource people are writing the book! Expect a fun and remarkable local host for your vacation.
Dave Snow is a naturalist and educator who first fell in love with the seabirds of the North Atlantic in 1979 while living and working as a researcher on Gull Island, part of the Witless Bay Seabird Sanctuary. He started Wildland Tours in 1984 to help protect the seabird sanctuary and the province’s many other wildlife resources by demonstrating their economic value to business-oriented politicians.
Dave is an avid whale watcher who has taught in Canada and the U.S. about whales and their environment. Dave frequently writes about Newfoundland, whales, aquaculture, wildlife, history, archaeology, and the environment. Each year Dave leads as many holidays as time permits including our Whale Study Weeks and Southern Labrador Adventure programs. Dave is also the project leader of our efforts to census the orcas of Newfoundland and Labrador. Look for Dave and former Wildland Tours holiday leader, Dr. Sean Todd (now Director of Allied Whale in the USA) on the award-winning 2000 video Whale of a Tale, which is still getting airplay around the world. Dave and his three children Alan, Angela, and Jennifer are all animal lovers who enjoy the whales, wildlife, and great outdoors of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Ann Simmons returned to Newfoundland in 2000 after 15 years on the mainland where she worked as an event planner and creative soul with a Nova Scotia advertising company. Before this, Ann worked in the food service industry holding such positions as area manager for Dunkin’ Donuts Canada and general manager for Wendy’s Restaurants of Canada. The call of her Newfoundland home proved hard to resist and once she was settled back home, Ann joined the office staff of Wildland Tours in 2001. Today, Ann is the cheery voice on the phone when folks call to discuss the province’s whales, wildlife, and vacation highlights. She is an experienced Newfoundland and Labrador vacation and event planner who stimulates her artistic side through the painting of murals and store windows throughout St. John’s.
Mark Tsang is one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s best known skiing and winter sports enthusiasts. Working with us for springs, summers, and falls since 1997, Mark has led most of our Viking Trail Experience holidays. He specializes in outdoor explorations for travellers interested in the wildlife and wilderness of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula and Southern Labrador. An avid photographer, Mark has sold his work to international outdoors magazines plus he has contributed bird close-ups to our Wildland Tours promotional catalogue. His dramatic photos of the northern lights adorn the walls of our St. John’s office. Mark is also our resident fossil expert…and time traveller. He takes guests from the 1,000 year-old Viking settlement to fossil beds boasting the remains of 520 million year-old trilobites to a site that preserves the 3.3 billion year-old primordial ooze that is believed to have generated the first life on earth. Mark provided many of the photographs you see on this website. A collection of Mark’s photography can be viewed on Flickr.
Carolyn Staple was born and raised in St. Philip’s, NL, ‘round the bay just outside of town’. She is a lovely mixed breed baygirl/townie cross. Her deep connection to the island has kept her anchored here; she has always lived on the rock, in various communities from the island’s east to west coast. After travelling the world in her 20’s while working as a flight attendant, she left the airline industry to follow her passion for the outdoors and completed a Diploma in Adventure Tourism/Outdoor Recreation. She has been working as an outdoor/environmental educator and nature/adventure guide ever since, now travelling around her home province sharing its beauty with others. She has most recently worked as a Tour Manager for several multi-sport eco-adventure tour companies in NL; Interpretation Officer with Parks Canada in Gros Morne National Park; Teaching Assistant for the Eastern School District’s Environmental Education program; and Outdoor Recreation Fieldworker for the City of St. John’s. She sits on the board for the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Educators. Her favorite thing is to hang out at the beach or in the woods and have a boil up around a fire with her daughters, Willow and River, her pups, Daisy and Dozer and her cat Ringo, all of who share her love for the outdoors. She spends her evenings creating luxury ‘Pixy Mama Hammocks’ for people to hang out and enjoy nature in.
The first trip Carolyn led for Wildland Tours was in 2003 and she’s been coming back for more ever since. “Touring around this island paradise with excited visitors, proudly showing off our natural and cultural beauty… I can’t think of a better way to spend the summer! I’d be crazy not to!” Carolyn loves to get people of all ages tuned in and turned on to nature so that they may gain awareness, appreciation, and respect for their surroundings, while optimizing their physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being. She strives to encourage personal growth, share ideas, work together, and above all, smile and have fun! She especially loves sharing the many stories of Newfoundland’s people and nature with travellers and explorers. From birding on a secluded trail to finding you that special community panorama, Carolyn’s years of experience hosting Newfoundland visitors ensures your vacation is in safe and caring hands.
Ken Knowles is a birder, naturalist and experienced tour leader. He has been leading tours for fifteen years for a variety of tour companies and cruise lines including Newfoundland and Labrador’s own Wildland Tours.
Ken’s love of nature began thirty years ago as a birder and wildflower enthusiast, and since then his interests have broadened into all areas of natural history. He has compiled one of the largest lists of bird sightings in Newfoundland and his photographs have appeared in national and international magazines as well as coffee table books.
Ken is a frequent university lecturer, newspaper columnist, and radio guest when the topics turn to birds and nature-related topics. He has an avid interest in the history of exploration, particularly of northern and polar regions. He has retraced by canoe and on foot the routes of arctic explorers to both the Arctic Ocean and Hudson Bay, and has collected the journals on polar exploration for both the north and south poles.
The polar bear monitor during our second 2008 Northern Labrador Polar Bear Expedition was John Terriak, one of Canada’s most celebrated Inuit carvers. John’s commitment to his traditional lifestyle made him a feature in a National Geographic article during the 1970s while his art and stories have inspired articles written by cultural anthropologists and collectors of aboriginal art.
John’s respect for nature drew him to carving. His art features breathtaking interpretations of animals and his culture’s relationship to nature. The majority of John’s carvings are of soapstone from north of Nain. He also works with whale bone, caribou bone, and ivory. John finishes all of his work with his “J.T.” and his own Weasel etching which symbolizes the translation of “Terriak” from his Native Inuktitut.
Our future northern Labrador expeditions with John will let him introduce you to the Inuit language, culture and traditions of Labrador’s north coast. His experiences on the land and with his dog teams makes our exclusive Wildland Tours programs in Northern Labrador a wonderful, authentic travel experience.
A selection of John’s artwork can be viewed at Wild Things (124 Water Street) while an enchanting collection of Inuit stories as told to John by his father is woven into the many authentic local tales we share with our guests during our Newfoundland and Labrador escorted vacations.
Professor, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Dr. Don Downer was born on the Indian Islands on Newfoundland’s Northeast coast. His life experiences range from inshore fishing to working as a biologist and educator. Don has been an international speaker on topics as far ranging as marine biology, school effectiveness, and the resettlement of small Newfoundland communities. He has written two books on the fast-disappearing lifestyle of rural Newfoundland and his idea of a holiday often involves introducing his home province to visitors. Every summer Don finds a way to lead some of our holidays. His photo shows Don exploring the cave system near Corner Brook.