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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. 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 still 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. Ann counts the viewing of polar bears in Northern Labrador and adventures among the whales of eastern Newfoundland among her favorite Wildland Tours experiences. Another favorite highlight is meeting our guests and sharing stories of travel, adventure, and wildlife from around the world.
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.
A native Newfoundlander, Jared Clarke, grew up on the northeast coast of the province and was introduced to the outdoors at a very young age – mostly by his grandfathers. Jared has become one of this province’s best known local naturalists and we have been delighted to have him lead excursions for us the past four years. He became interested in birds while working for a local conservation group and never looked back. Locally he is well known as an occasional newspaper columnist writing about birds, however, ours are not birding tours. Guests soon discover Jared is a well-rounded naturalist and leader equally comfortable with the whales, butterflies, and wildflowers….don’t worry about the word “bird”. He has led nature tours and workshops big and small across this province combining his keen knowledge of local birds with a broad base of natural and cultural history. Jared is also a husband and father of two beautiful little girls. Check out his professional bird site and profile: http://birdtherock.com/about-birdtherock/ and we encourage you to check out all of Jared’s photos.
In 1988, High School Teacher Darrell Penney found himself working next door to a replacement teacher who was covering biology for 4 months. Over that time the two teachers discovered they shared a love of the outdoors as they organized field trips together, including one where they showed the kids how to catch trout with their bare hands. A few months later Darrell met with that replacement teacher – our company’s founder Dave Snow - to discuss leading summer walking tours for UK guests, and since that time Darrell has been a popular summertime holiday leader with us.
A native of Corner Brook on Newfoundland’s west coast, Darrell grew up living the region’s outdoor life with skiing, boating, snowshoeing, salmon fishing, and walking in the great outdoors developing into lifelong interests. Joining Wildland Tours to lead tours exploring the scenery, nature, outports, and wildlife of Newfoundland and Labrador allowed Darrell to revisit many of the regions he had enjoyed as a student; and he has maintained his close contact with the land and sea as he continued leading tours every year since. When not leading tours Darrell uses his designation as a professional prospector as an excuse to explore the province from Northern Labrador to remote coastal islands.
Darrell’s sharp eyes have provided important sightings of rare North Atlantic whales along the Newfoundland coast. In 1998 Darrell brought a significant archaeological find to the province’s university when a local fisherman took Darrell’s tour group to view what turned out to be 18th century etchings in stone created by hopeful settlers on their way to the New World. These travellers were bound for America only to be captured and held hostage by pirates on a coastal island. Forced to sit day after day in the flat bedrock valley of a small bay, the hostages etched elaborate images into the rock illustrating the pirate vessels, the flags of the day, the distant Royal Navy vessels that were attempting to capture the pirates, and the names and stories of hostages….all providing remarkable physical insights into that distant time. Darrell has many other Newfoundland and Labrador stories to share and in 2016 he is looking forward to hosting some of our Newfoundland Adventures together with a Whale Study Week for some visiting Japanese nature lovers. Darrell recently retired from teaching to spend more time touring, exploring, and spending time with his family; especially his two grandchildren, Greyson and Jayden.
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.
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.