Revelstoke life: Making the most of seasonal work

For many, living in a seasonal town means spring is time to transition from winter to summer work, and can mean leaving town to pay for Revelstoke life. We spoke to residents to find out what they do to make it work.

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Amanda Hawthorn Geary. Photo: Stephanie Curran

If you’ve committed to living in Revelstoke, when it comes to a job a little imagination, flexibility and ingenuity go a long way.

The online entrepreneur/remote worker Amanda Hawthorn Geary: To stay in an industry she loved while living in Revelstoke, Amanda would have to think outside the box.

Before Revelstoke: For a decade, Amanda worked on cruise ships. Starting as a seasonal youth worker, she later became the onboard corporate fleet trainer and then onboard human resource manager. Travelling the world, Amanda worked four months onboard at a time.

Now in Revelstoke: Amanda is an online entrepreneur, working remotely from Revelstoke for international clients. She launched Get A Life At Sea (getalifeatsea.com) in 2015. “I help adventurers navigate the cruise line application and interview process so they can get jobs at sea and travel the world,” she explains. When not working on her own business, Amanda teaches part time at the high school.

Thinking outside the box: “I started trying to come up with an online business idea that allowed me to stay tied to the cruise ship community I love. I looked at my past experiences and credentials, I looked at businesses available online that supported candidates trying to get into the world of working on cruise ships, and as there wasn’t anything, I created something” she says.

Her advice for online entrepreneurs/ remote workers: “Draw on your past experiences, what you love to do, and what do you want to learn to do. We have fibre internet and a fantastic colab space. There is so much support there for online entrepreneurs and remote workers.”

Steve Cote. Photo: contributed

The year round pilot Steve Cote: With a job you won’t find in the big city, Steve is a Revelstoke based adventure helicopter pilot.

Before Revelstoke: Growing up in Ontario, Steve dreamed of being a pilot since he was a little kid. Making that dream a reality, Steve has been flying for 24 years. He moved to Revelstoke in 1995 to fly. After spending time here, Steve knew he wanted to make this town his home.

The reality: Steve spends his winters flying guests in a Bell 212 helicopter for Canadian Mountain Holidays Revelstoke. “I’ve been with CMH since 2000,” he explains. “I started in the small heli at remote lodges. If I didn’t live in a place like Revelstoke, I would never have had that opportunity.” Still working for CMH, Steve is now based in town for the winter, interacting with the mix of Canadian and international guests. In the summer, Alpine Helicopters sends Steve to work firefighting. He has travelled around the United States and Canada. “It’s a great way to meet people from all over and experience different lifestyles and cultures and keep on learning,” he explains.

The lifestyle: “I love Revelstoke,” Steve explains. “Once I came here and worked winters and was exposed to heli skiing, I knew I wanted to work in it.” He embraces the outdoors, sledding in the winters and travelling the highways on his motorcycle come summer.

Connie Marsden and family at work. Photo: Nicole Fricot

Changing with the Seasons Connie Marsden: An outdoor adventure lover, Connie makes Revelstoke work for her by embracing the seasonal changes.

Before Revelstoke: Connie grew up in Germany and earned her physiotherapist designation. Opting to travel and work overseas before she dove into the workforce, Revelstoke was one of her first stops in 2009.

Making Revelstoke work: Connie met her future husband Eric in a hostel. He talked her into giving tree planting a try. “My first time out was horrible,” she explains. “I didn’t make money, in fact I lost money, my English wasn’t so good, and I quit early.” Working at a different camp than Eric, she decided to pop by his camp on her way out of town, “{I wanted] to let him know what I thought about tree planting,” she laughs. Instead, he talked her into working at his camp. “It was much better and I did end up doing well.” Tree planting, Connie explains, is challenging and requires determination and self disciple. But it is also rewarding, and if you work hard, you can make enough money to enjoy the shoulder seasons. Connie has embraced the variety summer work in Revelstoke has offered, working in tree planting, trail building, brushing, and contract forest firefighting.

Winter: Her first winter in Revelstoke, Eric bought dogs and started up a dog sledding business. “I love the dogs,” Connie says. “We have 28 and each has their own personality. Taking care of them and guiding dog sledding is my passion. My summers are varied but the winter is always the dogs.”

Advice for making it work: “Living in Revelstoke and embracing the lifestyle means often being creative and flexible with work,” Connie explains. “You meet a lot of people here who work out of town for weeks at a time to make it work because families can’t survive off minimum wage tourist jobs.” The lifestyle that this amazing town offers, Connie reasons, makes those sacrifices worth it.

This article first appeared in the April/May issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.

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