Gerald and Abi Wagner moved to Golden six years ago and opened the Dreamcatcher Hostel after extensive renovations. The hostel, located inside a former bar, caters to all types of travellers, but prides itself on clean, affordable rooms and a quiet but social atmosphere. Gerald is from Saskatchewan and the couple was living in Abi’s native England before they moved to Canada.
What drew you to Golden?
Abi: We came to Canada, bought a car and travelled. We got a flat tire on Highway 1 and had to come down to Golden.
Gerald: We were just going to cruise around and then we just never left here when we broke down. It’s a common story.
What was your original vision for the hostel?
Abi: It was completely accidental. We didn’t come to Canada to open a hostel. We didn’t actually think about a hostel until we looked inside the building.
Gerald: We just kind of liked the building. We definitely didn’t want to do a bar but we thought we could do something.
What kinds of travellers do you get in your hostel?
Abi: It’s a really big mix. It depends on the time of year. This time of year we’re getting a lot of the cyclists travelling across Canada.
Gerald: This year I think we’ll get a few more Americans because of the dollar.
How do you see tourists contributing to the community, financially, culturally and socially?
Gerald: I think a lot of people from England have bought here, and they probably came out here as tourists, as we did. So it’s probably helped put more people in Golden. I have a friend that was working up north in the Parks and she’s taken a job at LP because she loves the area, and it’s because of all the stuff you can do outside.
Abi: I think they bring fresh ideas and fresh enthusiasm as well. It’s really easy to stick to the old ways and stick to how it’s always been here. But Golden’s not going to stay the way it’s been for the last 60 years. I think all the fresh blood and fresh ideas are really important.
We need the tourists, we need the money. If you look at Taps on jam night in mid-October, you know that we need the tourists from the winter.
What activities do your guests tend to pursue?
Gerald: A lot of them are hikers. We don’t get the big money, we don’t get a lot of rafters.
Abi: But when we get guests staying for a few days we can generally get them to go rafting.
Gerald: A lot of guys will come and they’ll end up staying for three or four days. People are starting to use Golden as a home base for other areas such as Banff, or they’ll go to Glacier or down to Kootenay, which is great. If they come for one night, often we’ll get them for 2, 3 or 4 nights.
Are there any barriers that you see with regards to tourism infrastructure in Golden?
Abi: I think it can be difficult for people without a car.
Gerald: It’s a hard thing not having a car in Golden and we try and tell people that, but we try and get around it by matching people up with others with the same destination.