By Joseph Gentile
LION’S HEAD – The Bruce Peninsula’s business community is undoubtedly growing. From aerial adventure parks, to escape rooms and recreational watercraft rentals, Bruce County is seemingly attracting a vast array of adventure-seeking individuals; who long to creatively leave their own stamp in paradise.
One new business is joining a growing community of “sustainable businesses” on the Bruce Peninsula, and is striving to build the future of sustainable tourism while shattering all myths associated with going ‘green’.
John Dewancker is the owner of newly established ‘Calypso Kayak Tours’: a kayak outfitting company based in Lion’s Head, Ontario—on the pristine waters of Isthmus Bay.
Dewancker is proud to be able to operate his business in a way which promotes sustainability on the tourism spectrum, as he believes everyone plays a role in ensuring the longevity of natural resources and optimal health of ecological bio-diverse systems— of which tourists and locals alike greatly cherish. “It is very important to me that the resource of water be preserved and be used sustainably,” Dewancker mentioned during an email interview, July 6th.
Sustainability, and specifically sustainable tourism conservation initiatives, has become an important conversation piece in the tourist towns which dot the shores of the Peninsula in recent years. Record-breaking tourism numbers throughout the region triggered concerns from many. The increasing volume of tourists continues to question and undermine the environmental integrity of such heavily trafficked tourism centres (more information regarding this environmental concern can be located on our websites home page: thelumberjack.ca).
“The importance of living [sustainably] for this generation, and the next generation, is paramount if we are to co-exist and thrive as members of the world’s Biosphere,” said Dewancker.
Dewancker believes that his Kayaking business offers an opportunity for visitors to connect with the local ecology and witness the rugged Bruce Peninsula beauty from a unique and environmentally friendly perspective.
“A perspective on the area’s biodiversity from the water’s edge contributes to an overall understanding how water, air, soil, rock, flora and fauna all sustain each other in this Biosphere.”
“The kayak is a sustainable Inuit mode of active transportation that is very well suited for paddling the Great Lakes,” he added.
An excerpt from the Calypso Kayak Tours’ website reads: services offered by the company recognize and respect the fragile beauty of the Peninsula including the Niagara Escarpment … and its local waters.
Dewancker also mentions that his company will, in part, work to educate clientele on the importance of practicing effective, environmental stewardship principles. “Customers are briefed on the environmental fragility of the area and are asked to pack out anything they bring with them,” he said.
“This includes a [company] vision that advocates conservation and the promotion of sustainable tourism activities.”
John, himself, first began camping in the Tobermory area in the early 1980’s, when the Bruce Peninsula National Park “was still a Provincial Park”. He now owns a cottage in Barrow Bay, south of Lion’s Head, and enjoys the serenity of the surrounding Niagara Escarpment and clear waters of Georgian Bay—both factors which he claims brought him to establish Calypso Kayak Tours.
Dewancker’s fond knowledge of Bruce County, his former occupation as the Director of Environmental Services & City Engineer with the City of St. Thomas—through which he successfully created an official Sustainability Plan for the city, and his position as a member of the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Association, have equipped him with years of experience in the outdoor setting.
“I care a lot about the quality of surface waters, streams and lakes, both through my previous occupation and recreationally,” Dewancker added passionately.
The company name is also symbolic of the region. “Calypso Kayak Tours is named after the Calypso orchid which still grows in the northern part of the Peninsula and on Flower Pot Island,” Dewancker stated.
Calypso operates from the sheltered waters of Lion’s Head main harbour, and offers the opportunity for beginners and veterans alike to obtain a “brief demo—for those who would appreciate a refresher on their paddling skills.”
The range of tours one may embark on through the rental of a kayak covers many sections of the Bruce—from Lion’s Head to Flowerpot Island, at two-days to half-day excursions—but none are guided.
Dewancker notes that “kayaking is a sport that’s generally enjoyed by people between ages 7 and 77.”
For more information, visit the Calypso website at calypsokayaktours.ca.
Dewancker envisions the future of Calypso Kayak Tours as being nothing short of bright. He adds that sometime within the next five years, there is hope in expanding the current kayak fleet.
“I am hopeful that the company will do well this season. Sometimes, it takes a community presence and time to grow a company.”
Dewancker is now the owner of a business that enables him to share his passion of open-water kayaking to all who visit the Peninsula. Calypso Kayak Tours operates effectively and in a manner that poses little harm to local wildlife and natural resources, and Dewancker would not have it any other way. “All current companies must heed sustainable business practices, it is very proper, if not critical to their survivor-ship in the long-run.”
Joseph Gentile – Editor and freelancer of environmental affairs, TheLumberjack.ca.