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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Jane Whitney, owner operator of Whitney & Smith


Guide Dave Quinn writes for Adventure Kayak a piece on Jane Whitney

From her backyard office in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Canmore, Alberta, Jane Whitney takes a break from her computer to look back on over 30 years of adventure tourism work. “The last indoor job I had was for two months in 1976”, recalls Whitney. “I started guiding cycling, skiing, and paddling trips in the rockies that summer, and have never looked back”. For over 30 years years now, Jane has been leading kayak, trekking, and documentary expeditions to some of the last remote outposts of wilderness on the planet. She began sea kayak guiding in the early days of Ecosummer, at the time one of the only companies leading commercial trips to remote wilderness areas. Her training as a biologist led her to the Canadian High Arctic, to work months at a time in self-supported camps studying migratory birds. Jane and her former partner Steve Smith formed Whitney & Smith Legendary Expeditions in 1987, specializing in exotic, remote, and wildlife-rich destinations across the globe. “We originally thought that we should bring people to all the amazing places we worked as wildlife biologists, to experience, for example, the ancient murrelets on the Queen Charlottes, thick-billed murres on Leopold and Coburg Islands in the Arctic, magellanic penguins in Patagonia. All these places we were lucky enough to work in had the perfect combinations of wilderness, wildlife, and spectacular scenery”. “Whitney and Smith is all about giving people a trip of a life time, where we all travel as a team on self propelled expeditions; giving people a better understanding with why it is so important to protect our wilderness and it's wildlife”. This leading edge adventure company is truly a family business, and Jane has become adept at balancing the needs of the business and the joys of being a mom. “It was originally hard to leave my 7 month old baby to guide on Ellesmere or in Patagonia”, explains Whitney,”but I always came back as a better mother with my cup filled with the beauty of the wilds. Getting Navarana out with me has been my priority. As a baby, Navarana woke up smiling when heard the shrill call of the Oystercatcher in the Queen Charlotte Islands and she learned to walk on Prince Charles Island, Baffin Island. When we were exploring Tonga for possible trip options, Navi and I would home school at night by candle light”. Thirteen-year-old Navarana is now Whitney and Smith´s youngest guide, joining Jane on trips when space and Navi`s busy school, dance, and ski schedule allows. In between her duties as a supermom, guiding and running a business, Jane has made time for exceptoinal personal adventures, including a 60-day kayak expedition the southern Chilean coast (it rained for 58 of 60 days), and extended ski tours across the Greenland and Patagonia ice caps. “The next 30 years will be as full as the last 30”, predicts Jane, whose current projects include searching out new wild trips in Patagonia, Kamchuka, Greenland, Baffin Island, South Georgia Island, and the Auckland Islands.“I also plan to do alot of travelling with my kid”, explains Jane with a supermom grin.

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