Strathcona Park Lodge attracts and trains impressive individuals.

Olympians, world class mountaineers, MBAs and doctorates, entrepreneurs and overachievers have all graced our humble operation with their influence. They come for the lifestyle and stay because this place is good for you. We find employees love this place as they’re own. They care and that means guests enjoy unsurpassed service.

We’d like to introduce you to some of our staff. If you see them during your visit they’d love for you to say hello.

Myrna and her grown kids.

Myrna Boulding – Founder

Hometown:

Comox, B.C; now Strathcona Park Lodge since 1973

Typical day on the job:

Retired from the day to day demands of the business Myrna still putters away to make the Lodge as attractive as possible. She works in the gardens and has input in the kitchen too, ensuring meals are healthy and delicious.

Claim to fame:

Co-founder of the Lodge with her husband Jim Boulding, Myrna is now Strathcona’s historian; her book, Living on the Edge, recounts the Lodge’s first 50 years. Her wisdom and interest in health and well being, particularly with regard to food, is recognized in the name of the a la carte restaurant on property, Myrna’s.

Stats:

  • Bachelor of Home Economics from the University of British Columbia
  • Certified teacher
  • Redding University Regional Planning PhD course
  • About 15 years of teaching high school
  • Founded Strathcona with her late husband in 1959.

Why Strathcona:

It wasn’t her idea. “It was Jim’s dream to have a summer camp for boys,” she says. “I felt like a city girl.” But as getting Strathcona going became an all demanding child, sucking up the young couples money and time, she grew to share the dream. When Jim died from cancer in 1986 Myrna took the reigns. While experiential education has always been a focus, Myrna gravitated more towards the tourism side of the business. “We can’t afford to only be about one thing, we need to stay diversified,” she says. “We’re continually fixing the place up to make it better, tidier and a little more polished.”

Favourite place at the Lodge:

Dripping with fruit and oversized veggies, her garden has become her passion. Sitting just north of the Whale Room you can almost see the plants grow under her green thumb. Picky eaters who won’t touch veggies anywhere else eat lettuce right out of the ground here.

Jamie and Christine enjoying some time in the great outdoors.

Jamie and Christine enjoying some time in the great outdoors.

Jamie Boulding and Christine Clarke

The dynamic duo keep the Lodge humming; Jamie runs the outdoor operations, while Christine manages finance and administration. With up to 70 staff and infrastructure to accommodate 150 to 200 guests they essentially run a small town off the grid.

Jamie Boulding – President

Hometown:

Campbell River, B.C., now Strathcona Park Lodge since 1973

Typical day on the job:

Jamie is responsible for running the organization with a focus on empowering and training the employees. He’s the face of the Lodge and steers how the Lodge fits in the world. He also helps out whenever his extensive knowledge and experience is needed. A master of many skills, that may be plumber, contractor, general fixer, purchaser (even though “I’m cheap and don’t like shopping) and instructor. He’s been teaching COLT paddling programs since he was a teenager.

Claim to fame:

A former national team rower and captain of the University of British Columbia basketball team, Jamie also competed at a high level in dragon boat paddling and white water kayaking. Around the Lodge people know the humble, 6’6″ giant more for his encyclopedic knowledge of just about everything to do with running the place.

Stats:

  • Placed 4th in rowing at the Pan-American Games
  • Canadian rowing Champion
  • Co captain of the UBC Thunderbird basketball team in 1985 that placed 2nd in the CIS
  • Sea kayak examining guide and master instructor
  • Guide trainer for Paddle Canada
  • Small water system operator
  • Radio Operator

Why Strathcona:

Jamie started working at the Lodge as a teenager. After university he returned full time in 1986 and started managing the business in 1992. Running the operation with his wife Christine, Jamie’s goal is to “find a balance between a minimum footprint and creating the maximum impact for guests and staff.”

Favourite place at the Lodge:

Anywhere on Lodge property as long as he’s outside and feeling like he’s doing something tangible. “It could be pruning trees or kayaking on the lake,” he says.

Christine Clarke – Executive Director

Hometown:

Embro, Ontario; now Strathcona Park Lodge since 1992

Typical day on the job:

Christine oversees the internal decisions that govern the day to day operations of the Lodge, from human resources to running the office, programming to interacting with clients. Along with Jamie she steers the decisions that position Strathcona in the world.

Claim to fame:

A national team rower from 1983 to 1988, Christine’s highlights were two world championships and a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal. In 2003 Princeton University honoured Christine and recognized the Lodge with the Josh Miner ’43 Award for outstanding contributions to the field of experiential education.

Stats:

  • Bronze medalist, 1978 world junior rowing championships.
  • 4th place at the 1984 Olympics and a gold at the 1986 Commonwealth Games
  • In the 1985-86 bronze medalists at the world rowing championships
  • 1986 Commonwealth gold medalist.
  • Broad based bachelor degree from Princeton University.
  • Masters degree in public administration from the University of Victoria.

Why Strathcona:

Her job provides “endless opportunities to learn,” she says. “The job has tremendous scope; so many different things demand my attention. It’s not possible to be bored.” It’s also a wonderful place to live and raise kids.

Favourite place at the Lodge:

Escalante, a remote, white sand beach on Vancouver Island’s west coast, where wolves, humpbacks and sea otters are the most likely visitors. “But with the right crowd it could be anywhere – a fun party in the Barn for instance,” she says.

Andrea Stapff – Managing Director

Hiking the Wild Side Trail on Flores Island

Hometown:

St. Catherines, Ontario, now Campbell River, B.C.

Typical day on the job:

The overall human resources manager she works with all the staff and also deals with much of the external relations with BC Parks, corporations and other large organizations. But like just about everyone at Strathcona she pitches in wherever she is needed.

Claim to fame:

Part of the professional athlete contingent at the Lodge, Andrea went to the 1984 Olympics for the single scull and missed a bronze medal by a quarter of a second. Now coaching is her passion; she volunteers her expertise with the Strathcona Nordics, a junior cross country ski team.

Stats:

  • Started rowing in high school and went to the world’s in grade 12.
  • A bachelor degree in political science and a masters in exercise physiology from the University of Victoria.
  • Almost a decade on the national rowing team, including 4th place at the 1984 Olympics and a gold in the pairs at the 1986 Commonwealth Games.
  • Seven years as an exercise physiologist with nationally ranked athletes in Australia.
  • Level 3 Cross country ski coach.

Why Strathcona:

Instead of “here’s a box, now fit in it” the Lodge is all about “stepping in and out of the box as needed,” says Andrea. “It’s organic but still a business.” With a busy family life and as a coach of a junior cross country ski team she also appreciates that her job can be flexible and fluid when it comes to the life and work balance.

Favourite place at the Lodge:

While her family was active growing up they didn’t do a lot of camping, so Andrea’s favourite places are all in the mountains with her husband and two kids: Bedwell, Crest Mountain and the Elk River Trail.

Paul Chatterton – Program Director

Paul is smiling because he’s thinking about biking.

Hometown:

Vancouver, B.C.; now Campbell River

Typical day on the job:

Paul’s responsibilities may begin with a mail pick up on his way to work or other town business, but mostly he focuses on the logistics of visitors coming to the Lodge. With up to 4500 school kids and hundreds more summer guests visiting the Lodge each year that’s a lot of people to look after: meals, where they’ll sleep, programming, staffing, buying equipment and maintaining the boats, trails and other equipment they’ll use during their stay.

Claim to fame:

Paul’s number one passion is biking. He owns five of his own and is constantly considering adding to the collection. He grew up on a BMX bike, before discovering mountain biking early in the sports evolution on Vancouver’s famed North Shore. Now he’s just as happy exploring a backwoods logging road on a cyclocross bike as he is racing on buff singletrack.

Stats:

  • Yamnuska Mountain Skills Semester
  • Thompson Rivers University Adventure Guide Diploma and Bachelor of Tourism Management
  • Former director of the Federation of Mountain Clubs
  • Director Canadian Avalanche Centre
  • Coach hockey and cross country skiing

Why Strathcona:

It’s all about diversity. “There are always new things I can do in my job,” he says. “It’s a small enough staff that I can take on new rolls. I’m never pigeonholed.” And in his free time he likes that he can be skiing, biking, boating, hiking and surfing all within half an hour of his house.

Favourite place at the Lodge:

The main viewpoint on the Ridgeline Trail. “It looks down on the Lodge and out on the water,” he says. “It gives me a different perspective on what we do here, away from the chaos.”

Dave Jackson – Chief Instructor

Dave also likes to read extremely thick books. Ask him about book recommendations, I dare you.

Hometown:

Hudson, Quebec

Typical day on the job:

As the co-chief instructor, with Sebastian, Dave’s job varies considerably with the seasons. In late winter and early spring he’s hiring staff and preparing equipment and infrastructure for the coming season. When guests are on property – from April until November – he’s training staff and making sure the leaders and instructors have everything they need – gear, food, etc. – to run the programs.

Claim to fame:

Dave’s dad taught him to climb when he was eight years old and he got pretty good at it through his teens and early 20s. He won climbing competitions and could climb 5.13 in climbing gyms and 5.12 comfortably outside. He peaked about 10 years ago and now he’s more into water sports.

Stats:

  • Bachelor of Physical and Health Education at Laurentian University
  • 21 years in Scouts Canada
  • 5.13 climber

Why Strathcona:

Many things keep Dave at Strathcona, not least the community of people that pass through and work there and the Boulding family and the philosophy they instill in the business. “I like that I can directly impact 4,000 people a year,” he says. “I enjoy building a crew and getting to know a group of cool, dynamic and interesting people with lots of energy.” The location’s not bad either: clean air, pristine beauty, quiet and easy access to mountains, lakes and rivers.

Favourite place at the Lodge:

Two little known spots come to mind: a particularly grassy campsite overlooking the water at False Echo campground on Upper Campbell Lake; and a mossy spot just off the Lupine Falls Trail that’s “perfect” for a picnic.

Seb

One of Sebastian’s favorite chinese proverbs is, “When the Winds of Change Blow, Some people build Walls -While Others Build Windmills”

Sebastian Tashiro – Chief Instructor

Hometown:

Goch, Germany

Typical day on the job:

Like Dave Jackson, his co-chief instructor, Sebastian hires, trains and manages the leaders and instructors at the Lodge. The duo share responsibilities, dividing tasks to each’s strengths: Dave handles most of the water based activities and Sebastian focuses more on the land. Both are as likely to be found hanging from a tree replacing hardware on a zip-line or loading canoes on a trailer as working on schedules in their office.

Claim to fame:

One of the few employees that end up at Strathcona by accident. He and his girlfriend Julia were traveling in British Columbia looking for jobs. Stumbling upon a job opening at Strathcona he applied and was called for an interview, but the Lodge was not where his directions said it should be and he gave up on the opportunity. They decided to go hiking in Strathcona Park instead and passed the Lodge on their way. He stopped in, interviewed and was offered a job. At first he didn’t want the job, but when they were interested in hiring Julie too, they realized they would be stupid to not jump on the opportunity.

Stats:

  • Geography degree from the Ruhr-University of Bochum
  • Masters in Outdoor Experiential Education Philipps-Universitat Marburg
  • Graduate Diploma in Science. Victoria University of Wellington

Why Strathcona:

Sebastian believes everyone should live as good a life as possible. For him that means finding a balance between making a living, protecting the environment and having a positive impact on society. The Lodge comes closest to that balance of anywhere he’s been.

Favourite place at the Lodge:

The Bedwell Lake area in Strathcona Park. “I can go there again and again,” he says. “There are so many peaks, waterfalls and meadows.”

Strathcona Park Lodge's #1 Canucks fan!

Strathcona Park Lodge’s #1 Canucks fan!

Gai Kay – Guests Services Director

Hometown:

Taree, Australia, now Gold River, B.C. for last 33 years

Typical day on the job:

Gai oversees everything that goes on in the office and by extension much of the Lodge. She’s also a veteran Events Manager having planned and organized 93 weddings and even more family gatherings. Unofficially she’s the onsite counsellor, the chair in her office always welcoming in a crisis. “A lot of the staff see me as a surrogate mother,” she says. “The come to me to vent. It keeps me young, as well. My kids are older than many of the staff.”

Claim to fame:

An admitted hockey nut and long suffering Vancouver Canucks fan, Gai learned to play hockey when she was 36 and went on to coach one of her sons’ teams. The highlight of her coaching career came when a team she was coaching got to play during the intermission of a Canucks game. She also has an impressive home garden; the flowers in the office are often picked from it.

Stats:

  • Raised three boys.
  • Ran a fishing lodge in Nootka Sound for 10 years.
  • Successfully organized 93 weddings as Strathcona’s Events Manager.

Why Strathcona:

“I just really enjoy the people and what I do,” she says. Even though there are bunch of new staff every year they are always “incredible people,” she says. “They are always nice, respectful and encouraging.”

Favourite place at the Lodge:

The short hike along the Pierce-Evans and Bog trails is a perfect way to unwind from a day of work, spend some time in the bush and get some exercise.

Jim Miller – COLT Director

Jim wears many hats at the lodge.

Hometown:

born in Minnesota, now Campbell River

Typical day on the job:

During the winter, when no COLT programs are running, Jim’s job is part time and pretty routine: answering emails and chatting with potential students, scheduling staff, budgeting. But when the first program starts up in May, everything changes. “It becomes the best job on Earth,” he says. When he’s not working on land permits, safety awareness, logistics and quality control he’s out in the field teaching the climbing and mountaineering components.

Claim to fame:

The quiet time in Jim’s job dovetails with winter, which is just fine with him – skiing is his passion. He loves it in all its forms from skate skiing on a crisp clear morning to hunting for powder turns in the backcountry – as long as he’s sliding on two sticks he’s happy.

Stats:

Humble and preferring to shine the spotlight on others, Jim will only say his expertise comes from experience: “I have been teaching outdoor leaders for 40 years and have climbed and traveled in many wilderness areas around the world.”

Why Strathcona:

I love the family orientation that Strathcona Park Lodge has made a priority,” he says. “The Lodge recently celebrated its 50th year in existence and COLT has been going for 37 years strong. Not many businesses have stayed in one family or even been in existence this long. I very much value being a part of something that is much bigger than myself. At the same time, there is much room for self expression and there are places for me to put my own ‘stamp’ on things.”

Favourite place at Strathcona:

Being a mountain and wilderness fan it’s no surprise Jim’s favourite place near Strathcona is an expansive alpine plateau above Buttle Lake called Marble Meadows. Surrounded by big, snowy peaks the lake dotted, rolling area is reached first via a canoe paddle across the lake followed by a grueling uphill hike to the plateau edge. At the right time of year it fills with wildflowers.

The Lodge's guru when it comes to Yoga and Stand Up Paddle Yoga.  She will be teaching classes throughout the summer on SUP Yoga.

The Lodge’s guru when it comes to Yoga and Stand Up Paddle Yoga. She will be teaching classes throughout the summer on SUP Yoga.

Johana Stark – Office Manager

Hometown:

Born Buenos Aires, Argentina, grew up Red Deer, Alberta

Typical day:

Despite its serene appearance the office is always busy and Johana is in the middle of it all, greeting guests, fielding questions, booking rentals and guides, running the general store, answering the phone and much more.

Claim to fame:

Stand up paddleboard yoga lover. The yoga came first: she’s a certified Hatha and Vinyasa instructor. When she found her passion for combining SUP and yoga flow, there was no turning back. She’s also passionate about natural health care: if you’re feeling sick you might want to ask her for advice. “I’m always walking around with essential oils, doctoring people up,” she says.

Stats:

  • Degree in psychology from the University of Calgary
  • Researched knowledge transfer in large organizations for Alberta Health Services.

Why Strathcona:

“It’s really special,” she says. “The setting is truly majestic and the people are amazing. They walk the walk, not just talk the talk. That’s rare.”

Favourite place at the lodge:

The yoga platform on the spit of land between the swimming and boat bays. “It’s a sweet spot, the best place to watch the sunset,” she says.

Scott Ballhorn – Online Communications Manager and Outdoor Instructor

Scott Ballhorn

Taking a break while paddling the Gold River.

Hometown:

Wetaskiwin, Alberta

Typical day on the job:

Scott’s responsibilities vary with the seasons, but the one constant is variety. He could be out capturing video and photos in the morning, updating the website and social media in the afternoon and then teaching kayaking in the evening. As the tech genius on staff he’s often called in when software needs updating or gremlins are messing with computers.

Claim to fame:

His bushy beard is what people know him by – whether its on his face or recently shaved. This Alberta boy also brags cowboy roots: he once helped test bulls to make sure they were ornery enough for the Calgary Stampede. He may not have lasted 8 seconds, but he came home with two cracked ribs.

Stats:

  • Diploma Outdoor Leadership from Lakeland College Vermillion
  • Bachelor degree from Thompson Rivers University in Tourism Management.

Why Strathcona:

The people make the job for Scott. The staff is humble but highly accomplished. “They’re down to earth, active and outdoorsy,” he says.

Favourite place:

White water paddling on the Gold River. “It’s a classic,” he says, with something for everyone, beginner to “scary.”

If you see her walking around property say hi and be sure to mention any travel destinations that get lots of sun to quench her thirst for new sun destinations.

If you see her walking around property say hi and be sure to mention any travel destinations that get lots of sun to quench her thirst for new sun destinations.

Corrinne Calen- Housekeeping Manager

Hometown:

Born Montreal, Quebec, now Gold River since 1977

Typical day on the job:

Overseeing a crew of up to 10 housekeepers, her chief priority is making sure every every room and cabin is always in top shape.

Claim to fame:

After family Corrinne’s passion is travel. “I love seeing different places…as long as they’re warm.” With her husband she’s been to California, Mexico and Venezuela. They also take advantage of their big backyard, camping, biking and boating all summer. With a group of friends she likes to kayak on the smaller lakes, like Crest and Drum lakes, between the Lodge and Gold River.

Stats:

Never one to sit still for long, after raising two boys, she worked in housekeeping at a provincial health clinic in Gold River. Now she’s bringing her skills to Strathcona Park Lodge’s new housekeeping centre. “I drove past the Lodge so many times, but never thought about working here. I didn’t realize how much there is to do.”

Why Strathcona:

“I like the people. They’re wonderful and welcoming. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Favourite place at the Lodge:

Any of the campgrounds on Buttle Lake.

Ralf Spodzieja - Head Chef

Hometown:

Karlsruhe, Germany, now lives in Black Creek, Vancouver Island

Typical day on the job:

When the two restaurants are open, Ralf’s day may start at 6 a.m. and last until 9 p.m. as he manages staff, ordering ingredients and, of course, cooking three meals a day. He’s a great baker, too. During the off season he spends time with Island farmers building relationships so he can access the freshest in-season ingredients.

Claim to fame:

When he’s not tending the veggies or feeding chickens on his hobby farm in the lush farmland between Campbell River and Courtenay, Ralf can usually be found fly fishing. He prefers beach fishing, standing waist deep in the Strait of Georgia casting for salmon, but chasing trout on Buttle Lake is fun too. He also makes a delicious sourdough.

Stats:

  • A Red Seal Chef
  • Certified baker
  • Executive chef at more than a dozen restaurants in Calgary, Vancouver, Tofino and the Comox Valley including Granville Island, Water Street Cafe, The Atlas, Painters Lodge and Crown Isle
  • Owned his own coffee shop and bakery in Tofino and Campbell River, respectively.

Why Strathcona:

“I agree with their food philosophy – good tasting and healthy,” he says. The view from his office is pretty good too – the kitchen looks out on Upper Campbell Lake.

Favourite place at the Lodge:

Fishing on Upper Campbell Lake.