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How White Squall Creates Unique Tourism Opportunities in Parry Sound

Posted on Tuesday February 06, 2018

Located just 10 minutes outside of Parry Sound, White Squall Paddling Centre uses kayaks and paddleboards to introduce visitors to the world’s largest freshwater archipelago.

Originally, White Squall was a small tourism business, offering tours and educational programs.  Over time, they’ve expanded their business to include two retail stores – offering over 400+ kayaks, canoes and paddleboards for sale and rent.  Here’s what Tim Dyer (co-owner) and Kathleen McGill (office manager) have to say about their experiences and White Squall’s success.

A Unique Tourism Opportunity
Tim and Kathy Dyer started White Squall 32 years ago.  Living in the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, they were captivated by the diverse wildlife and the unique freshwater landscape around them.  

The “magic” of the expansive granite shoals meant the waters could go from a safe boating depth to a sudden 3 feet deep - leaving the area relatively untouched by motor boats, but perfect for kayaking.

Originally teachers, Tim and Kathy saw an opportunity to get people outdoors and teach them about the nature and ecology around them.

As their business grew, White Squall opened two retail stores in the region.  Their Parry Sound Town Shop offers a range of camping and outdoor clothing and equipment, while their Nobel (Ontario) Paddling Centre focuses on paddling equipment and rentals.

How Creative Thinking Leads to a Year-Round Business
From early spring to mid-October, a full 6-7 months of good weather provides ample business for White Squall.  White Squall doesn’t only offer standard tours and rentals; passionate about the outdoors and where they live, the team gets creative in how best to show visitors around Georgian Bay. Aiming to educate and delight, White Squall develops unique experiences, offering programs like yoga, photography and ecology themed paddling trips.

The off-season presents an opportunity for creative thinking too.  During the quieter winter months, the team plans next season’s tours - in addition they’re also actively involved in their community.

White Squall hosts a range of community and charity events.  ‘Squall Nights’ for example, are a community fundraising event.  Hosted by White Squall at Canadore College, different travel speakers share their stories of adventure with locals.  Other winter events have included photography exhibits, winter snow hikes and the International REEL Paddling Film Festival – keeping White Squall busy year-round.

White Squall’s retail store in Parry Sound is also active year-round.  Whether it’s summer or winter, when new clothing styles and outdoor gear arrive, the team gets busy; setting up displays and promotional material.  As Patti Morel, manager of retail operations, says, ‘it’s always a good season up here’.

Local Talent and Opportunities
Tim believes an important part of White Squall’s success is its great team.  With many locals with tourism and forestry backgrounds, it’s easy for White Squall to hire skilled and experienced staff.  Funded by Tourism Excellence North (a partnership between RTO12, RTO13 and Fednor), there was a local initiative, including series of 10 workshops, to help White Squall develop further.  A consultant worked with White Squall’s management team in taking a macro overview of the company’s operations; marketing; and how to develop partnerships with other tourism businesses in the area.

Keeping Youth Interested in Tourism
In the interest of promoting local talent in Parry Sound’s community, White Squall has programs aimed at nurturing outdoor skills in local youth.  Aimed at high school students, these programs teach first aid, kayaking and a range of outdoor and camping skills – helping them develop their interest, and build confidence and independence in the outdoors.

As a tourism business, White Squall’s success in Parry Sound, not only comes from their ability to connect with visitors in creative ways, it is also rooted in a great team of locals who are passionate about their work and their community.

Inspired? Get in touch with the Town of Parry Sound’s economic development officer, Vladimir Shehovtsov, to see if a Georgian Bay lifestyle could be in your future.

These successful business stories are posted here raise the profile of the businesses in Parry Sound to attract development and investment.  If you are interested in having a profile done about your successful Parry Sound business please contact: Jessie Langford - (705) 746-2101