Variety is the spice of life for Eddie Wong. He has lived in Jasper since the ‘80s and his many adventures led him to love the community.
Wong was born in Hong Kong on Sept. 27, 1963 to Soo and Sik-Wan Wong. He joined brothers Sammie, Johnnie, Kenny, Ben and sister Frances.
The youngest in the family, Linda, was born after Wong, five years old at the time, and his family moved to Montreal in 1969.
Years later, Wong’s brother Johnnie encouraged him to go to Alberta, after driving across the country to Vancouver, telling him “there was lots of work.” Wong gave it a go in 1984, joining brothers Ben and Kenny in Edmonton for the summer.
“My first job was at the Royal Glenora Club, working at banquets as a server,” Wong recalled.
He went back to Montreal to finish high school and graduated in 1985.
A year later, at 19 years of age, Wong returned to Edmonton and worked as a doorman at the Four Seasons Hotel for three years.
“There were quite a few bands that came through,” he remembered, this talent including a member of the band Rush and Phil Collins with Genesis, along with former Prime Minister Joe Clark. One of Wong’s buddies, Walter Dong, worked at the desk at the Four Seasons for part of the year and at Jasper Park Lodge (JPL) in the summer season as a controller.
“He recommended that I check Jasper out and I got a job,” Wong said. “I came out to work in room service at JPL.”
He noted how JPL opted to keep open year round during the winter of 1988, and in his second year with them, after a memorable hike, Wong decided a seasonal stay wasn’t enough.
“I had a roommate who liked hiking and he took me up Signal Mountain,” Wong said. “That’s when I fell in love with Jasper — to stay here. The view was spectacular, the sun was shining!”
By that time, Wong was into recreational skiing, a pursuit that led to more jobs later on.
There was a blip during Wong’s stay in Jasper. His CJ5 jeep was rolled as he and friends drove to Trefoil, as they left JPL. In the mayhem, Wong’s right arm was crushed.
“That was a turning point for me,” he said. “I had to go back to Edmonton for therapy. It took a year to heal.”
But Jasper was still calling, and Wong returned in 1991.
Scott Edey managed Echo’s Restaurant at Marmot Lodge, and Wong signed on there as a waiter. After about a year, he moved into the manager’s position, which he held for a couple of seasons.
“I decided to migrate to a different job,” Wong said.
One evening, at the De’d Dog Bar & Grill, as Wong was pondering what direction to take, Mark Howe, who managed the Jasper Whitewater Rafting Company, overheard Wong and offered him a job. Wong said yes. That was in 1994.
“First I was a car wash attendant, which led to the rafting business. I became a driver, and a guide on the rafts.”
Wong later moved to diversify his interests when he and friend, Christian Galimard, started a partnership in a business called explorejasper.com
“Our main goal was to promote Jasper,” Wong said. “I bought him out a couple of years later, when (he) moved to Quebec. I kept on with explorejasper.com and wrote a personal blog through that. I started a new business, Jasper Web Design, also which keeps me busy in the off season.”
Wong bought into a company called Digital Den just after he started Jasper Web Design. After three years, the company was dissolved.
Wong said the work ethic of owners of Jasper Whitewater Rafting, Bryn Thomas and Ron Steer, was a major element in his decision to stay with the company all these years. Howe purchased the company, now called Jasper Rafting Adventures, six or seven years ago.
Wong manages Jasper Rafting Adventures.
“I still accompany clients on the rafts,” he said. “I do raft maintenance, drive the bus, schedule the staff, guide the boats, send the teams off with their clients.”
Remember his start in recreational skiing? It led to off-season work that he does to this day. He’s been coaching the Jasper Free Ride Ski Team for ten years.
“Prior to that, I was coach for the Jasper ski Team and worked for Marmot Basin as a ski instructor, snowboard instructor and telemark skiing instructor (cross country skiing with a Nordic edge),” Wong said.
With the purchase of a house five years ago, Wong has committed to Jasper for the long term. When he has time for other pursuits, “I tend to travel a little bit,” he said, noting he does some of that travelling on his motorcycle.
At home, “When I’m working, I’ll still find time to get out into the wilderness,” Wong said.
He loves to take photos of whatever grabs him when he’s out and about, and transfers those images to his blog.
Wong loves living in a community where people take care of each other.
“The December Project is really bringing out the community,” he said. “It’s one of those activities that I love about Jasper.”
With that and other activities, Wong said, “Everybody pitches in. With fundraisers, Jasper really steps up.”
The vibe in Jasper is great, Wong said. “I just love it here.”
Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh