Bon Echo Park canoe rentals are by reservation only.
I am standing at the office of bon echo outfitters contemplating the day of canoe rentals ahead. It’s 4 A.M. Two loons beckon from down Mazinaw lake. An audible swirl near the dock makes me wish I had my fishing rod in my hand instead of a toolbox. Through the darkness the long row of rental canoes in need of repairs stare back at me.
A faint smile forms as I vaguely remember the windowless, meaningless jobs that inevitably lead me to this lakefront office. “What a great place to work”, I think, as I strap on a headlight and begin repairs. “It’s not really work, not really a job?” I ponder how anything could be called work if you enjoy it?
This canoe needs new seat bolts. This one needs a new thwart. The next one needs a new gunwale. Replacing a gunwale is a bigger job I will leave until last.
Our fleet of 150 rental canoes and kayaks will all need to be checked over and made ready for the day. Everyday. May to October this is how my day begins. Ah, the best time of day and no one else gets to see it.
The life of an outfitter is hard. Long days and the rewards are fleeting and rare. How did we ever get here? Our love of the wilderness just beyond the next portage lead us to consider this career. Our intimate knowledge of exactly what canoe trippers and backcountry fishermen are looking for made being an outfitter a perfect fit for Jane and I.
Our success is because everyday we remember that the key to being a successful outfitter is in knowing exactly why your customer is there and exactly what they are looking for.
Having paddled and portaged to every location in Bon Echo Park ourselves makes it possible.
It’s been 10 years of this same routine we have learned to appreciate so much. When you see that smile on our face you will know it’s real, in direct contrast to having a ‘job’ working for Ontario Parks. It’s just not the same and everyone can see it.
We have mostly kept the following statement a secret, but we are going to let it out now. The very core of being able to be an outfitter is the customer. Secret- this is the only business we know, or have ever seen, where customers are always happy when they get there. Happy, because they are on vacation. Happy because they have escaped the city for a few hours, a few days, or in some cases a couple weeks. The core reason why being an outfitter is so enjoyable is this fact. A happy customer makes a happy business owner.
We don’t even think of it as a business anymore. It’s not. It is who we are. We are no different than any customer who comes to Bon Echo Park wanting a canoe rental. We just have more experience, more days spent in the backcountry, more hours paddling, more portages crossed, more time to contemplate and appreciate the true identity of Canada- the wilderness.
Even if you cannot put words on it, we know what you are looking for and hoping to find. Bon Echo Park canoe rentals are by reservation only, we look forward to seeing you soon.