Dog sledders see bookings increase after borders reopen

·2 min read
Dogs wait ready to pull a sled for Kingmik Dog Sled Tours in Lake Louise, Alta.  (Axel Tardieu/CBC - image credit)
Dogs wait ready to pull a sled for Kingmik Dog Sled Tours in Lake Louise, Alta. (Axel Tardieu/CBC - image credit)

The COVID-19 pandemic's far-reaching effects are having an impact on one historic Canadian pastime.

Megan Routley owns Kingmik Dog Sled Tours, which operates near Lake Louise, Alta. She says since borders have reopened, the company has seen an increase in bookings, because it largely caters to international guests.

She's concerned about the surge in cases of the Omicron variant, but hopes for the best.

"If the borders close, then we're back to Canadians only, which might not go so well because Canadians don't seem to be too connected to their heritage of dog sledding," she said.

Axel Tardieu/CBC
Axel Tardieu/CBC

She says her primary markets are the U.S. and Australia.

"They come to see the Rockies, they come to ski and secondary activities such as the Johnston Canyon walk, the dog sledding, maybe they go over to B.C. to go snowmobiling," Routley said.

People don't get into the business to make money, she says.

"It's because of the dogs," she said.

"When you drive dog teams you depend on each other. They know that I'm taking care of them and they take care of me."

Axel Tardieu/CBC
Axel Tardieu/CBC

Karla Cisneros, who hails from Houston, was one of the travellers who tried out dog sledding while visiting Canada over Christmas.

"This is a big adventure for us, so we're really enjoying all the winter activities and the beautiful snow and the mountains," she said.

"This is so different and the opportunity to go dog sledding was the thing I was most looking forward to."

Rob Scarffe, who hails from Jandowae in the Australian state of Queensland, is one of the employees at the tour group.

"It all started with coming over to Canada to work on a couple of farms and do some crop consulting after university and then decided to stay for the winter because I hadn't seen snow before and then wound up getting a job doing tours in the Rocky Mountains," he said.

Axel Tardieu/CBC
Axel Tardieu/CBC

But he ended up hooked on dog sledding.

"You get to work with 12 or 16 of your best friends and there's not too many other jobs where you get to say you do that every day."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting