We all know the tired stereotypes. They don’t shower before getting in the hot tub. They don’t shower at all. The smell. They drink and party too much. They make too much noise while walking home. They steal from Cooper’s. They steal from the food bank (this is not true). They don’t tip.
The list goes on.
But what about the ones that stayed? The ski bums that came for a bit of fun and decided Revelstoke is pretty great, so they found jobs – any jobs – and stuck around. They started volunteering and started businesses and bought homes.
They plan on staying. Here’s a few of their stories.
The business owner
Marc Joiner came to Revelstoke before Revelstoke Mountain Resort opened. He grew up in Melbourne, moved away when he was 24 and eventually wound up in Invermere, B.C., in 2006. While he was there, someone told him about this new resort they were developing in Revelstoke.
He looked it up on the map and made the move in early 2007. He skied at the Powder Springs and thought that if that little hill was so good, just imagine how much better it is up high.
“I came out to Revelstoke and skied Powder Springs,” said Joiner. “I loved the town. It was perfect. I wandered around town. Everyone was so friendly and wanted to get know you.”
He went to the visitor information centre and told them he was an electrician who was thinking about moving here. He got help finding a place to rent, finding a job and with how to get his residency. “They took me upstairs to the office and said, ‘How can we make you part of this town,'” he said.
He worked first for Burridge’s Electrical, then spent a few months wiring the gondola and Stoke Chair at Revelstoke Mountain Resort before returning to Burridge’s.
A few years later Joiner ended up taking it over from his boss Martin Greenwood. He is now the owner of one of Revelstoke’s oldest businesses – it’s been around since 1909.
“This business has basically given me my dream of being able to live in a town like this, surrounded by the people that are here, and surrounded by these beautiful mountains, and having everything I dreamed of in my early-20s at my doorstep,” he said.
Joiner credited the Greenwoods, and his original landlords, Dave and Nicole Grimsdell, with helping him get established in Revelstoke. Now he is happily married and owns a home in Columbia Park.
“I always expected I’d come here and work,” he said. “I was here to work, but the bonus is at the end of the day when you knock off you’re in the world’s best playground.”
His advice to newcomers is to make an effort to get to know the community beyond the ski resort. “I basically just had the advantage of getting in before the swarms,” he said. “That’s not an option now, but I’d say as long as you can commit to this town, you’ll be absolutely blown away about what comes back to you.”
The lawyer and the Realtor
When Brendan Ginter and Jody Lownds moved to Revelstoke in 2008, the plan was to have a bit of an adventure for six to 18 months, and then move back to Ottawa and get on with their lives.
“Jody will tell you it was her way to get me to move in with her,” joked Ginter.
Lownds, who worked as an environmental lawyer, was going to work remotely and Ginter planned on quitting his job as a sunglasses salesman for Ryder.
“We thought we would end up back in Ottawa, she would work at a big law firm somewhere, and I would find a new job,” Ginter told me.
Five years later, and that hasn’t been the case. Ginter was able to keep his job with Ryder, working around the B.C. Interior.
Then, one day, they decided to buy a house. “The overwhelming thought wasn’t buy a house so we can stay, it was let’s buy a house so we can get a dog,” said Ginter. “We got the most expensive dog house in the world.”
When they were closing the deal on the house, lawyer Connie Brothers told them how there was a big need for lawyers in Revelstoke and that Lownds should set up a practice here. Six months later, Lownds was a licensed lawyer in B.C. and set up her practice, B Jody Lownds Law.
For Ginter, it was then a matter of finding a new job that would involve spending less time on the road. He decided to follow his father’s foot steps and become a Realtor.
“In Revelstoke you have to find a job, you have to make a living,” he said. “You can’t be picky about what you do, you have to find something you can do and go with it. That’s why I chose real estate.”
They found themselves both with steady jobs, a house and two dogs, and a new life in Revelstoke. Ginter started volunteering at the food bank and with search and rescue, and he is now on the board of directors of Community Connections. Lownds is a board member with the North Columbia Environmental Society.
“It was not a plan. I think if we’d come out here with this plan, I probably wouldn’t have done it. I would have been scared,” Ginter said. “My parents would have strongly objected to us moving out west. We weren’t moving out west, we were going for adventure.”
For Ginter, the key to staying in Revelstoke is finding a good job, and not being picky about what it is. He said you shouldn’t expect to work your dream job if you want to stay here, but be flexible as to what you do. “There are people with MBAs driving trains,” he said. “There’s lots of people doing jobs they never saw themselves doing.
“If you want to stay here you have to figure something out.”
Miranda Murphy has worked her fair share of jobs since moving to Revelstoke in 2007. She was a lifty, gladed runs at the resort, did landscaping, worked for Selkirk Tangiers, was an operations assistant for the Ministry of Forests, and has done a bunch of other small jobs. This winter she will be working for CMH.
“I’ve had to do courses and network and spend a lot of time to get where I am in the community,” she told me. “I’m currently doing distance education upgrading for accounting so I’m expecting to start a student position full-time in the next year.”
Murphy first came to Revelstoke the year before the resort opened. A native of White Fish Falls, Ont., she was attending Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., when her and some friends came out west on a ski trip.
A year later she decided to move out west and finish her schooling online while being a ski bum.
“It was supposed to be a season, possibly two,” she said. “Somewhere else to finish university other than at a school while doing something fun.
“My claim to fame is I was running the gondola on opening day.”
After her first winter, she went back home to do horseback guiding. She got injured on her third day on the job, got bored sitting around, and decided to come back to Revelstoke and experience the summer. “Then I didn’t leave anymore,” she said.
“I think the thing that brought me here and made me decide to stay over other towns with ski hills is Revelstoke was a town first,” she said. “It was a foggy, snowy week in March in winter 2007. The town was so magical and all the little shops and the community was amazing. And there was sushi.”
Finding ways to make a living here proved difficult. As mentioned, she worked many different jobs to make ends meet, all the while completing her education. She now owns a house in town too.
“People always talk about how hard it is but sometimes you have to do it and make it work, and its fantastic being locked in and getting to stay,” she said.