Putting in work

Revelstoke women embody blue-collar values at the mill and in the hills

Rebecka Miller takes a drop in the Revelstoke backcountry. Photo: Vanessa St-yves

This article first appeared in the January print issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.

There is no denying Revelstoke is a destination — people come from around the world to explore our little corner of the globe. Whether they stay for a week or a season, us locals know it’s a different experience to live, work and play in town.

I caught up with three women who work hard to play hard. They enjoy the recreation Revelstoke has to offer, while putting in the hours at work to make Revelstoke a place they can live year round. All three are employed at Selkirk Cedar Ltd, and it was here their friendship burgeoned. They work day or night shifts where the day-to-day grind means when the time comes to recreate, they get out there and enjoy it. Not sponsored pros or social media brags, these women are no slouches in their ability to live the life Revelstoke has to offer.

MarieLou Duquette

MarieLou Duquette
Photo by Matthew Timmins

The last few years have seen MarieLou Duquette dive head first into sledding.

“What can I say,” she laughs, “I love it.”

Duquette originally bought the sled to access the backcountry for splitboarding, but ended up preferring to leave the board at home.

A lift truck and forklift operator as well as first aid on-site attendant at Selkirk Cedar Ltd, Duquette is of the mind that to live and play hard in Revelstoke, you have to find a job at a mill, CP, or possibly out of town if you don’t have a professional job.

“I can’t imagine going back to $11 or $12 an hour,” Duquette explains. “When I made that before the cost of living went wild, it was okay. Now I don’t know how I would afford rent, groceries and a pass to RMR or a sled. Sledding is an expensive hobby.”

Below: MaryLou Duquette tunnels through deep powder.
Photo: Jeff Harker

As for her work at Selkirk Cedar Ltd, Duquette appreciates the benefits it offers — doing the hobbies she loves, while acknowledging there are tough parts to the job. “This is a good job,” she says. “Not a job you love. But it gives me freedom, and a few years ago I would never have seen myself in this industry. I’m glad I am.”

“Revelstoke has almost everything I live for — mountain biking, fly fishing, dirt biking, snowboarding, snowmobiling to name a few,” Duquette says.

Duquette’s day-to-day routine involves dog walks and outside adventures either before work or after work depending the shift. “We are working two weeks of afternoon shifts then two weeks of day shifts, so there is always time to squeeze in play time,” she enthuses.

The type of people who move to Revelstoke and stay, Duquette believes, make a living to enjoy the pursuits out your back door. “This is a place that if you can make it work, you stay forever.”

Rebecka Miller

Rebecka Miller at work at Selkirk Cedar Ltd. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Rebecka Miller has lived in Revelstoke her entire adult life, moving to town as a teen to check out the mountain scene. Like so many before her, she never left. “Making a living in a resort town can be hard,” Miller says. “Costs are high and often job opportunities that pay a living wage are hard to find.”

Miller has been working at Selkirk Cedar Ltd since 2012. “It’s a great place,” Miller says. “Working there has allowed me to have a lifestyle in Revelstoke on my time off thanks to good pay and benefits.” In her time at the mill, Miller has worked various jobs and is currently a temporary loader operator spare supervisor.

The best part, Miller insists, is the people she works with. “There are men and women from around the world,” Miller elaborates. “It might surprise people to learn Downie is actually very multicultural.”

Rebecka Miller takes a drop in the Revelstoke backcountry.
Photo: Vanessa St-yves

When Miller isn’t hard at work, she’s off to the mountains like so many other working Revlestokians.

“I like splitboarding,” she enthuses. “Of course, on days where I work, I can’t go into the backcountry. That’s why I have a pass to the hill as well. I can get for a couple runs in. I also like cross country skiing and ice skating, so there is always something to do.”

Last winter on a Friday after work, coworker and friend Duquette took Miller sledding for the first time. Miller and her other friend and coworker Ashley Muirhead can often be found recreating together at the hill. “This year we will be splitboarding in the mountains together,” Miller says. “I’m so excited for it.”

“I’m grateful to have met such great friends and shred partners at work,” Miller says.

Ashley Muirhead

Ashley Muirhead at work at Selkirk Cedar Ltd. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Whenever she can, Ashley Muirhead is enjoying the recreation Revelstoke has to offer. “The fact you can open your door and do whatever you want — hike, climb, paddle, enjoy powder — is why I love this place. That and the community here,” Muirhead expands. “I think getting outside is a major stress relief for the kind of people who move here to work and play.”

“I think when you work hard to stay in this community, you really utilize your time off and make every moment count,” she says. “At the same time, if there is an insane line at the hill, you’re not worried because you’ve got all winter to enjoy it.”

Muirhead is an avid snowboarder who spent part of last winter learning how to splitboard in the slack country. It has clearly stolen her heart. “I love being able to access the powder on the mountains if RMR is tracked out,” she says.

To make a living, Muirhead works in the Selkirk as a lumber grader. “I look at the wood quality and determine whether it’s high grade or not,” Muirhead explains.

“I worked customer service prior to Selkirk,” Muirhead says. “But the job I have now has allowed me to buy a house and pay the bills. It’s a good local job with great people. I think, like a lot of blue collar workers in town, we have moments of loving what we do and what our jobs allows us, and days where we get a bit sour and stressed.”

Ashley Muirhead switches over on while on tour. Photo: contributed

When she does feel the pressure, Muirhead gets outside to get out of her head.

When she’s not at work or in the mountains, Muirhead is with her boyfriend, Adam King, or her dog. And when the sun has set, you may find her tackling a solo mission in League of Legends or Skyrim.

“Enjoy it all,” she laughs. “You may as well.”