Meet the Owners
Spirit of the West Adventures began in 1996 with an amazing passion for kayaking, killer whales and the British Columbia coast, and it has been the catalyst for many people's outdoor activity ever since. Originally founded by John Waibel and Christine Portmann, longtime guides Breanne Quesnel and Rick Snowdon joined John as owners in 2006 and continued Spirit of the West’s commitment to providing fun, safe and ecologically sound kayaking experiences in BC. While they have always been wilderness adventurers, being able to combine playtime with work infuses a client's experience with a special kind of pleasure. After globetrotting for a few months most years, they always come back to their home on Quadra Island, BC, a testament to their love for the BC coast and the amazing opportunity for sea kayaking. As seagoing folk, Breanne and Rick love to live and breathe British Columbia coastal air. In 2014 Breanne and Rick took on full ownership and welcomed their own addition to the family, their son Eamon.
Breanne grew up in Ontario in a family who loved the outdoors. Much of her childhood was spent hiking, camping, canoeing, skiing and enjoying the fresh air. In 2002 Breanne completed an Honours Bachelor Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism and a Bachelor of Arts - Geography at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She also completed her Bachelor of Education in Sydney, Australia. Over the years, Breanne has worn many hats including that of whitewater canoe guide, tree planter, environmental educator, elementary and secondary school teacher, sea kayak guide and most recently as educational program co-ordinator, guide and operations manager with Spirit of the West. The allure of the British Columbia coast drew her west several years ago, and now she spends most of the year on Quadra Island and her winters traveling. Breanne is a perfect candidate to set you up with a complete outdoor kayaking experience.
Rick spent his early years paddling in Ontario before heading to sea in tall ships for much of his high school years. He completed degrees in Outdoor Recreation and Biology at Lakehead University, as well as time studying oceanography in Woods Hole in 2000, interspersed with summers working search and rescue for the Canadian Coast Guard. Having sailed on the Great Lakes, California coast, North Atlantic and South Pacific, Rick took up sea kayaking in 1998. As a freelance writer, guide and photographer Rick has travelled around Canada and around the world, and has volunteered and worked in several countries including Vanuatu, Mexico, Australia, Ecuador and Grenada. He is currently an executive member of the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC. Bringing all this experience together serves to give perspective to and enhance his guiding skills and approach to issues affecting the coast.
Spirit of the West Adventures was founded in 1996 by Christine Portmann and John (JD) Waibel. John and Christine are still avid adventurers and have moved onto their next big adventures leaving Breanne Quesnel and Rick Snowdon as sole owners. Christine and JD will always be a part of the Spirit of the West Family.