About Us

Meet the Guides

Take a moment to meet the staff at Spirit of the West!

our guides

Our staff are simply exceptional and match the culture and spirit of our organization. They all have an amazing passion for kayaking British Columbia and for the killer whales in the BC waters that make it such a great experience.

Terms like self-reliance, adaptability, responsibility, confidence, and sense of humour all come to mind when describing their qualities. Considering that guides must perform in the multiple roles of wilderness guide, gourmet chef, role model and educator, it's no surprise that they come from a wide variety of professions and backgrounds to each bring a unique and valued perspective to the way our business runs.

Our guides are extremely skilled in kayaking, back country travel, responsible environmental practices, and high levels of first aid and safety procedures, continually upgrading their training and striving to improve knowledge and skills. And all our staff are adventurers in their own right - traveling and wilderness tripping does't pause for us when the season's over! Personal and training trips around the British Columbia coast and around the world keep us on top of our game. At the end of the day, what we ensure is that every trip is as safe and memorable as can be, and that you will not be disappointed kayaking the British Columbia coast.

Spirit of the West guides at our base camp in Johnstone Strait

Luke Roman - Born and raised on the BC coast, Luke's love for the outdoors and wilderness adventure began at an early age. Over the past ten years, Luke's passion has taken him around the world to guide in such diverse locations as Guatemala, Belize, and New Zealand. In addition to paddling, Luke is a graduate of the Wilderness Leadership Program at Capilano University and has worked extensively facilitating youth leadership and development programs. With a warm sense of humour, keen know-how, and sharp culinary skills, Luke will keep you smiling on the water. Calling Quadra Island home, Luke will be back this year for his fifth season of leading trips with Spirit of the West. 

Meredith Lewis - Meredith Lewis loves being outside! While she calls Vancouver Island home, she lived for five winters in Halifax where she studied anthropology. She has spent many summers exploring the BC coast by sailboat and kayak and is always excited to get back out there after the long, cold winter. Meredith has travelled a lot by land and by sea and still tells anyone who will listen about just how beautiful her BC home really is.

Rick Snowdon - Rick brings his experience working as a guide trainer in Ecuador, community development project manager in the South Pacific, sailor and freelancer writer to his work as a guide with Spirit of the West. In addition to being part owner of Spirit of the West, Rick teaches sea kayaking for Capilano University and is president of the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC.

Breanne Quesnel - A certified teacher, Breanne brings her passion for learning and outdoor education to the field as she guides your trip. Breanne has also guided whitewater and sea kayaking trips in Ontario while attending university in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Breanne is also part owner of Spirit of the West.

Ashley Hamilton - Ashley is an adventurer, outdoor educator, and traveller who lives for exploring the natural world and meeting new people. Her passion for the outdoors began in Niagara On The Lake, Ontario where she was born and spent almost every summer day mountain biking the Niagara escarpment and swimming and canoeing in lakes and rivers. Her thirst for adventure continued through University where she led social justice programs abroad for young adults to Morocco, India, and Belize. She is a certified teacher with a degree in biology and psychlogy and has spent the past six years working with inner-city youth from Toronto teaching and directing at an outdoor experiential school. Ashley is excited to be working as an assistant guide sharing her passion for paddling and the environment with others while experiencing the beauty and inspiration of the West coast. 

Sam Lam - Sam grew up as a good Canadian kid from North Vancouver BC. Like many other outdoor professionals, he completed the Wilderness Leadership Program at Capilano University. His love for kayaking doesn't end with guiding either. He spent a year as a kayaking teacher and is often trying to find waves or current to test his skills. Besides kayaking he loves to ride bikes, go skiing and eat chocolate. Also, if you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, Sam is the guide for you!

Janna Rist - Janna is from the UK, originally a conservation biologist, she now works as a outdoor guide and instructor during the summer, spending her winters volunteering for Mt. Washington Ski Patrol and training to become a Paramedic. She now calls Vancouver Island home and volunteers for Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue. In her free time she can be found training at the gym or riding her bike on Cumberlands trails.

Caitlin O’Neill - Caitlin grew up in Northern Ontario where she spent six summers leading canoe and kayak trips for a summer camp on the Great Lakes. She spent a winter guiding in New Zealand and is now on her third season guiding multiday trips on Quadra. Caitlin has a degree in Biology and Geography and specializes in plants! When she’s not kayaking, Caitlin can be found mountain biking, skiing, gardening, playing guitar and mingling at local coffee shops.

Steve Schellenberg - Steve applies his charm and talents guiding multi-day trips. He's also an accomplished musician – if only we could bring a piano in a kayak! During the Canadian winter he spends his time guiding polar bear tours in northern Manitoba, and is in training to become a pilot.

Graham Vaughan - Graham is an outdoor enthusiast and lives for his time spent in the natural world. Guiding with Spirit of the West Adventures, he recently began taking on a behind the scenes role with the company in their offices. He has been fortunate to work with Spirit of the West Adventures guiding expeditions in the Bahamas and live-a-board kayak tours in Patagonia. Graham has also worked as a B.C. river guide, guiding whitewater rafting trips in B.C. and overseas in New Zealand, and carried out aid work in Paraguay. A Wilderness Leadership Program and Outdoor Recreation Management Graduate from Capilano University, Graham has a passion for educating and inspiring others. He is also a guide trainer with the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC, instructing sea kayak courses with different educational institutions and the SKGABC. When he is not kayaking, Graham fills his days mountain biking, skiing and dreaming of where the next adventure will take him.

Marita Jamieson - Marita is originally from a small town in the interior. When she isn’t busy soaking up the beautiful BC sunshine on hikes and bike rides, she enjoys reading and cooking. She is a fairly avid traveler, who enjoys meeting people from around the world. Marita works between the office and the kitchen, helping to ensure that the base is organized and running smoothly. In the winters, she resides in Vancouver where she studies political science and sociology at UBC.

Ryan Schaffrick - After spending a number of years in the army being uncomfortable in the outdoors, Ryan had an epiphany on the West Coast Trail. Since then he has been spending his time teaching people to be comfortable outside. He completed the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training program at Strathcona Park Lodge in 2006 and have since been teaching outdoor education and guiding in BC and Switzerland. An avid traveler, Ryan has arguably been to all 7 continents.

Carly van den Biggelaar Born and raised on southern Vancouver Island, Carly's fondest memories of growing up are of camping, hiking and exploring the mountains and forests. That love of the outdoors and snowboarding brought her to Whistler where she spent 5 years living the mountain town life. A recent graduate of Capilano University's Wilderness Leadership Program, Carly is excited to be working as an assistant guide and to share the beauty of the west coast. She now calls Vancouver home, and plays and works on the North Shore mountains in the winter.

Lee Jackson - Lee loves the outdoors and the unique seasonal lifestyle that only Vancouver Island can offer.  A professional ski patroller, tree planting foreman and of course, kayak guide, he happily transitions between these passions and has called Victoria, B.C. home for the past 11 years.  When he's not on his skis, he's likely on the water, or perhaps both the same day!"

Robin Humphreys - Born and raised in the Discovery Islands, Robin is a true BC girl. She has grown up with a keen knowledge and love of the area she lives in. Her passion is the outdoors, especially the ocean, and all its critters. Robin spends as much time on the water as possible even when she’s not guiding. Her previous adventures have included leading youth groups on a 140’ wooden tall ship, and spending 2 months paddling to Alaska with two friends, as well as countless days kayaking, fishing, and exploring in the Discovery Islands. When not on the water Robin finds time to get out on the local mountain bike trails and spend some time at her family’s homestead. Prior to becoming a guide Robin spent three summers as one of our food prep team. 2014 will Robin’s seventh season with Spirit of the West.

Frieda Humphfreys - is a born and raised island girl. She spends a great deal of time on, in and around the water. When she's not outside, she spends most of her time in the kitchen, either cooking, baking or canning. At Spirit of The West, Frieda works mainly in the kitchen, where her jobs range from washing dishes, to ordering food.

Tara Robinson- was born and raised on the coast of BC but now calls the Kootenays home.  Other then sea kayaking, she spends plenty of time rock climbing in the summer as well as cross country skiing, split boarding, and snowshoeing in the winter.  Tara also works as a part time computer nerd, and an outdoor educator for school groups and seniors. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of back country safety and plant species.  Her favorite part of working with Spirit of the West is cooking on the beach, especially vegetarian meals, and of course the plentiful encounters with sea life. "

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