Midweek Interview

Midweek Interview with Adventure Canada’s Matthew Swan

This week, we got Matthew James Swan, Expedition Leader and Director of Business Development at Adventure Canada, to spill the beans.

Although that’s not saying we made a mess.

The challenge for the industry is…

The impact of increased tourism in Canadian Arctic communities. We have been working with these communities for over 30 years to develop sustainable tourism practices.

But now, as more passenger vessels are travelling through the Northwest Passage, we as an organisation have worked closely with the Canadian Inuit to ensure they are gaining the most from this increased traffic and yet still being true to their roots.

The things I like about my job…

The best part of my job is knowing that what I am doing is enriching people’s lives.

Connecting people to the most remove places in the world through enlightening experiences is incredibly rewarding, as is supporting small communities while stimulating the economy.

And the frustrations are…

Changing environments make planning and logistics a constant challenge.

The Arctic has been undergoing a great deal of change over the last few decades, and responding to that change—while rewarding in and of itself—can make day-to-day operations challenging.

If I didn’t work in travel I would be…

An NHL player! Though I’d have to make some real strides to get there!

Favourite airline?

Those with free food and drinks

My proudest moment was…

Teaching my eight-year-old niece how to drive zodiacs.

I would give her another couple of years before she is taken over my role as Expedition Leader but she’s a steady hand on the tiller!

The naughtiest thing I ever did was…

No comment!

I try to relax by…

Scuba diving!

Forced meditation… the only thing that will slow down my pace is knowing I get better value for my money by not going fast.

The last time I feared for my life was…

I have a great respect for polar bears; they’re so powerful and intelligent. When standing only metres away from a bear, your adrenaline does not allow fear to creep in—but I knew that I was that close to a very messy situation.

Fortunately, I was not alone and between me and my brother Jason Edmunds we were able to scare the bear off.

If I can, I always try to avoid…

Bees! One sting would be the end of me.

I really wish I had…

A teleportation device so I would never have to wait in airport queues or hear a delayed flight announcement again!

The best advice I’ve ever received was…

During one of my first Arctic voyages as an Expedition Leader, I was faced with days of tricky ice navigation that put us days off our route.

I was struggling with how to best explain this to our clients: how to communicate that that their trip of a lifetime is being fundamentally altered.

The Swedish Captain Kenth Grenqvist, who I have known since a very young age, pulled me into the captain’s quarters to tell me not to put my energy into things I can’t control.

“It’s a waste,” he said. “Focus on what you can control, and make it the best it can be.”

This helped me accept our predicament and focus on what I could do to improve our situation.

The two days we spent in the ice—that I thought would ruin the trip—ended up being filled with spectacular moments.

This still resonates with me and shapes how I approach my career. Captain Kenth is now retired, but remains a good friend and mentor.

I don’t understand why people…

Will spend years researching their trip—but when they are asked to take out their laptop and liquids in airport security they look like a deer caught in headlights.

My greatest weakness is…

Ice cream.

I love cookies and cream milkshakes that are so thick you can barely suck it through the straw!

And my greatest strength is…

Super strong lungs, which assist with the extra-thick milkshakes.

If I won a $1 million lottery (aside from travelling), I would…

A portion would definitely go towards the Adventure Canada Discovery Fund.

Then I’d buy season tickets to the greatest hockey team of all time, the Toronto Maple Leafs!

If I was Prime Minister I would…

Create as many policies as I could to protect the environment and wildlife.

If I could be someone else for one day I would be a…

I have always wanted to know what travel was like for the polar explorers when mapping the arctic. Scottish explorer, Dr. John Rae, who is believed by many to be the first to discover the final link to the Northwest Passage, used local knowledge he learned from Inuit to live from the land.

I’ve always wanted to travel to…

The Mekong river.

I spent a lot of time growing up camping and exploring nature by canoe and kayak. I have always wanted to paddle through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

My favourite holiday was…

Scotland.

My parents immigrated to Canada as youngsters so Scotland has always been close to my heart.

I have been lucky to lead expeditions through the Scottish Islands and their natural beauty and rich culture struck a chord that resonated with me.



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