Ski patrol and raft guiding have traditionally been male-dominated professions but Marcie Trenholm is one local woman who is helping to change that notion.
Trenholm was always very active in the world of sports, but while growing up in Ottawa most of those sports were of the indoor variety.
All of that changed when she signed up for an outdoor education program at Algonquin College in Pembroke.
“I realized I didn’t want to sit behind a desk. I wanted to be outdoors and doing stuff,” she recalled.
Trenholm compared the program she took in Pembroke to the adventure tourism program at College of the Rockies.
“I consider it an introductory course to all of the possibilities of the outdoor industry. They give you doors that you can enter, figure out what you like and see how much you can get involved in the different outdoorsy fun things you can do,” she explained.
The first door she went through after completing the program was in Tofino where she worked as a sea kayak guide.
She discovered Golden on her drive out west and kept that in mind for the future, eventually moving here in 2010.
“Driving by in May there was still snow on the mountain, so seeing that I did a little bit of research,” she said.
She started in the day lodge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort before eventually moving to mountain safety. Meanwhile she took a job with Glacier Raft Company in the summer and started to work her way towards becoming a white water raft guide.
“I absolutely love water and Glacier kind of took me under their wing and taught me how to use oars, because on the Ottawa river we used paddle-guiding,” she said.
“Glacier had a huge influence on my career here as a raft guide.”
As a female guide, Trenholm, who now works for Wild Water, has experienced a certain level of sexism from time to time, typically coming from male guests.
“You can see almost a fear in some men’s eyes who are going into their boat. I have been approached after by numerous, mostly elderly males who say ‘that was fun, you rocked it, I wasn’t expecting that from you.’ It’s kind of a kick in the nuts…if I had nuts,” she laughed.
Trenholm hopes that her work, and the work of an increasingly large number of women in the industry, is helping to change that perception.
“It makes me hope that they don’t go into any more outdoor adventure operations and have their nose up towards women. They can just be like ‘Okay, she knows what she’s doing,’ “ she said.
Still, those occasional instances aside, it’s clear that Trenholm loves what she does. Even more than simply enjoying the outdoors and the perks that come with a job spent on the river and in the mountains, she loves the social aspect of her work.
“It’s just great seeing people on their vacations and having a good time. I just like seeing people happy, that’s huge for me.”