Rooted is all about the people and the places that make us proud to call our community home.
There is nothing quite like sitting in a canoe or kayak on Lake Nipissing and watching the sun go down. Brad Perrin is the owner of a company called Natural Experience where taking people to get that view is the goal.
“The sunsets on Lake Nipissing are amazing to see,” says Perrin.
“I do a lot of my beginner stuff around North Bay. Lake Nipissing is nice and calm and if we can’t go there, there’s also Trout Lake and a bunch of other lakes in the area that we can use.”
Born and raised in the North Bay area, Perrin says he “basically grew up in the outdoors and spent a lot of time doing this kind of stuff on my own.”
“I always enjoyed sea kayaking, and mountain biking, and in the winter I work at Laurentian Ski Hill. I went to Algonquin College and took a program called “Outdoor Adventure” in which you earn a business degree and you get experience in high adventure outdoor sports. That gave me the experience to open my own business in North Bay and to be able to offer that to people.”
And Perrin says North Bay is one of the premier locations in the country, if not the world, to take people on a tour.
“North Bay is the perfect place to offer this kind of stuff. With the boat launches and the infrastructure dedicated to being on the water, we’re lucky where we are. We’re still developing some of the kayaking industry here, but this is a great place to do this. We have some great areas that are smooth and easy to navigate, and then there are some spots on Lake Nipissing that can be challenging to be in.”
Perrin says through his college course they learned about risk management, marketing, and other aspects of running a business. He adds, that there was lots of time to practice getting practical experience as well.
“Every week we were out in the field doing something that was involved in an outdoor sport and learning those skills. Things like white water raft guiding, ice and rock climbing, and those hard skills.”
He says his Level Two certification allows him to teach people up to a Level One certification with Paddle Canada.
“That also means I can take people to places like Georgian Bay and into Lake Superior a little bit. But once you get further out into Lake Superior you’d want to have a Level Three guide and that’s based on the conditions of the lake itself,” he says.
“Lake Superior can be quite advanced and quite dangerous at times, a place like Georgian Bay you have a lot more shelter and it doesn’t get as angry as Lake Superior.”
Perrin has spent hours on the waters and says outside of running his own business, he will get contract work for other companies who offer these kinds of trips.
“In fact for the last two years, I’ve been doing three-day trips out to Georgian Bay for a company out of Toronto,” said Perrin.
“It’s an amazing experience to do that and take people out there. I can take everybody out that wants to go out, even if you are just a beginner that has never even been in a kayak before. The client's experience dictates where we go.”
Perrin adds the recent contract work out of Toronto had him doing overnight trips as well.
“We would do three to five day overnight trips. That’s where I was responsible for feeding people on those trips, teaching them how to do all the different skills for camping, kayaking, and some basic wilderness survival. The five-day trips are a little more advanced because we were going a lot farther out and for that, you need to be a bit higher skilled, and that is actually the higher end of my training so far,” he says.
“During those trips, we try to be on the water for as many of those days as we can. We try to do about 50 kilometres in total and we do a layover day where we stay at one campsite for two nights. The smaller day trips I do in North Bay are Sunset Trips on Lake Nipissing and I talk about the history of that area and teach people a few different skills. Those are typically three-hour trips.”
Perrin says this is an industry that has received a boost in business post COVID-19
“It has been extremely busy. That’s how I got the contract out of Toronto because they were so busy, and they were short on staff. The industry as a whole is struggling to have enough guides to be able to send trips out. Everybody is realizing that after the last two years that these are really amazing experiences to have, now we just need to have enough people to make it happen. There’s a lot of work in it because the demand is so high right now,” says Perrin,
Perrin doesn’t just earn a paycheck outdoors during the summer as he is also employed at the ski hill, and on his way to earning a promotion to become the outdoor operations manager and he says, “We’re expecting a crazy busy year of people coming out and using the ski hill.”
Perrin says year round they see people from all over enjoying these outdoor activities.
“We see a mixture of clientele between tourists and locals at both the Natural Experiences tours and the ski hill. I’ve had people in the last few weeks who were from Europe and did a kayaking tour, but we also have locals who will come out, learn some of what I’ve taught them, and I’ll see them back out on the waters at some point down the road.”
And he’s got big plans for the future of his own business.
“I would love to start doing mountain biking tours as well. I actually specialized in that during my college course and once we start really building up the trail system in this area, it is something I would like to add to what I can offer people.”
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