I started guiding for NRA in the spring of 2006. Taking a year off a few years ago to guide a 50 day canoe trip in Ontario has been my only summer away since I started guiding up north. I have been fortunate to guide trips on 4 different northern rivers. This past summer I had the good fortune of leading our Mooseponds trip on the Nahanni, a dream that was hatched a decade ago, was fulfilled! In years past I have also guided on the Coppermine, the Mountain and the Tatshenshini.
As previously mentioned, back in 2007 I guided a 50 day flatwater canoe trip across mid-North Ontario returning back to camp in Algonquin Park on day 50. This was an incredible journey that saw us paddle nearly 2000 kilometres and portage roughly 200! (An 1/8 of which was conquered on day 42 — a 24 km portage leading back in Algonquin Park)
In 2008, my wife (Chloe) and I jumped on a plane to New Zealand to challenge ourselves with a cycling touring adventure. We spent the better part of 2 months looping around the south island. A trip of a lifetime, and we vowed to someday return. Outside of guiding, I can be found skiing (nordic, telemark and water), kayaking and cycling…I also quite enjoy relaxing at my family cottage near Algonquin Park!
As a self proclaimed water-bug, I have carved out my career by spending time in and on the water in all season. After the guiding season you can find me teaching swiftwater, motorized boat and ice rescue for Raven Rescue. I also teaching wilderness medicine courses – ranging from 2 – 8 days in length. And lastly, when I am not on the road teaching, you will most likely find me substitute teaching on the Morley First Nations reserve in Southern Alberta.
The part of guiding I enjoy the most is the hard work and amazing company. I enjoy the challenge of the river, the weather and the logistics. Two favourite moments that come to mind are having the opportunity to guide the Mooseponds with my wife Chloe and being one of the lucky ones who has witnessed a 60 000 caribou migration (which lasted for 9 hours and came directly through our campsite at Melville creek on the Coppermine River. My favourite thing in camp is fire and on the river it would have to be the sounds of the water.
Hailing from Ontario, I began canoeing young, however it wasn’t until I landed in Alberta that I made the jump to whitewater paddling (don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE portaging). I am a canoeist at heart, but do enjoy the luxuries of raft trips. I hope to continue my journey’s north each summer and dream weekly of new northern river that I would like to travel (including, but not limited to – a river in the Peel watershed, the Firth and any Tundra river!)
We currently live in Canmore, AB and are enjoying the recent purchase of our first home – and the renovations that came with it!
Outdoor spaces are my classroom, office and playground. With degrees in Physical & Health Education and Geography from Queen’s University, as well as a Bachelor of Education with a specialization in Outdoor Experiential Education, I have spent the past decade teaching Outdoor Education and guiding canoe and raft-based expeditions in Ontario, Quebec, the Arctic and Sub-Arctic…with a few hiatuses to travel across Canada, as well as to Europe, South and Central America, Australia and New Zealand, where we (Rob and I) circumnavigated the South Island of New Zealand by bicycle in 2008.
This past year has seen some career changes in the Vance household!
Rob is still enjoying his new role as a firefighter with the City of Calgary, as well as continuing his instructing role with Raven Rescue. Although he is not teaching as many courses as he used to, you can still find him on the water teaching swiftwater and ice rescue courses throughout western Canada. Rob was fortunate enough to be back as a guide on the Coppermine this past summer and the river did not disappoint. From challenging whitewater to the most spectacular fishing anyone could dream of, the trip was a true success.
Chloe embarked on a new career challenge this past spring, joining the team at the Canmore Collegiate High School as the First Nations success coach. This challenging role has allowed her to create and deliver engaging programs to First Nations, Metis and Inuit students who attend high school in Canmore. Although she did not make it up north this past summer, she fit some paddling in on the North Saskatchewan and Kootenay Rivers, biked and hiked throughout the Rockies and, most recently, sailed through the Gulf Islands on a tall ship with 21 high school students.
Both Rob and Chloe still have the North in their blood and dream of their next northern river trip. The Firth River by raft or the Snake River by canoe are at the top of their list. Happy Paddling!
A friend’s wedding at the “Ice Castle” in Yellowknife (which was amazing) was the only time we headed North this year. Needless to say, we are both dreaming of our next northern river trip – Chloe would love to do another trip in the Peel watershed (highest on the list is the Snake River) and Rob is dreaming of another Coppermine River trip, or any of the Peel watershed rivers.
This past year has been a year of change for the Vance’s. Rob has taken a full-time position with the Calgary Fire Department and continues to teach rescue and wilderness first aid courses for Raven Rescue and Wilderness Medical Associates across the Western provinces. Chloe has shifted her focus from diabetes to food. She now finds herself helping to manage a local organic food organization here in Canmore called Farm Box. With way less travel for work and ‘real job’ schedules, we enjoyed a local summer of weekend-warrior hiking, mountain biking and paddling adventures.
A German Shepherd rescue pup joined our family in May. We named her Chile, after ‘Etagochile Creek’ – a tributary to our all-time favorite Northern River, the Mountain. Just like the Mountain, she brings boundless energy – challenging, surprising and impressing us daily. And yes, she is already training for her first canoe trip.
We look forward to the adventures that 2015 will bring! See you soon up North.
Rob & Chloe
We’ve spent the past year growing roots here in Canmore, AB.
This past February, we bought a 1950’s bungalow (complete with pink bathtub and shag carpet in a range of hues). From ripping up carpet to laying hardwood, redoing bathrooms to completely gutting and rebuilding a kitchen, we are slowly feeling like we are making this recently purchased house, our home.
Rob tried his hand at carpentry this year. With hand-felled, hand-hewed, local Lodgepole Pine logs, he built an incredible log bed. With no trips North this year, Chloe was home long enough to plant a small garden in the backyard. [If anyone has any tips on gardening in the Rockies, we could use some helpful hints!!]. Things are getting pretty domestic around here!
Rob has continued his busy schedule with Raven Rescue and Wilderness Medical Associates, teaching rescue and wilderness medical courses across Canada. Chloe also had a busy schedule at the helm of her diabetes charity, Connected In Motion. Work has taken us north to the Territories, BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Florida, California, Oregon and beyond!
Chloe had an incredible opportunity to be a part of a small, two-week backcountry ski expedition to Northern Norway (Lyngen Alps). The scenery was stunning and the skiing was amazing! We were also able to tack on a quick vacation to Alaska after finishing up a course in Whitehorse.
Rob ventured back up north this summer to guide two trips on the Nahanni. Yet again, Nahanni National Park did NOT disappoint!
It’s hard to believe that another summer has come and gone already! This past summer, was again, filled with 6 weeks of northern adventures. We had the honour of guiding the Mooseponds canoe trip together this summer, a dream that began almost a decade ago after reading Joanne Moore’s journal, Nahanni Trailhead. The river treated us with warm sunny days and highwater around every corner. Exhilarating to say the least! Chloe then set off to guide on the Mountain River and Rob finished up his season on the scorching hot Nahanni.
We were fortunate enough to be able to head back to Ontario for 4 weeks in August to relax at the cottage, visit family and guide a 5 day canoe trip in Algonquin Park for Chloe’s charity, Connected In Motion. In last August we headed back west and were able to make it too fellow guide, Chris Rhodes wedding out on the west coast.
Fall and winter are shaping up to be action packed…let the snow fly! Rob is still busy teaching for Raven Rescue and Wilderness Medical Associates and Chloe is even busier running events for young adults with Type 1 Diabetes and speaking to audiences around the country about living an active, healthy lifestyle as a Type 1 Diabetic.
See you up North next summer!
Rob and Chloe