A visit to Canada has turned into a five-year stay for Zoë Cooper from Sydney. The 33-year-old Marketing Coordinator didn’t intend on staying in Canada for that long. Actually, she had never even set foot in snow before moving to Canada. Of course, living and working at a ski resort, especially one as beautiful as Mount Washington Alpine Resort, provided Zoë a great reason to stay.
Now an intermediate snowboarder (she learnt to snowboard when she moved to Canada), Zoë is planning on learning to ski as well. She says Canada feels so much like home she doesn’t want to leave. Here’s why:
We caught up with Zoë to find out more about Mount Washington and Vancouver Island in Canada.
Do you miss vegemite?
Nope. You can get it over here!
A typical day
I usually catch up with the marketing team to make sure we’re all on track for our current campaign. This involves liaising with our sponsors regarding cross-promotional ventures, lots of emails, phone calls, spreadsheets and a ride break or two to remind myself why I’m here!
The Canadian landscape and lifestyle had appealed to me for a long time. I felt drawn to the mountains, snow and freshwater lakes. I didn’t know very much about Vancouver Island, much less the small village of Cumberland where I now live.
However my sister was (and still is) living there so I didn’t think too much about it. I just wanted to be in Canada with her.
I moved from an inner-city suburb of Sydney to a tiny mountain town on the other side of the world, just like that. I had intended to live and work only a year or two, but I never left, so here I am five years later.
Mount Washington is our local ski hill and it has a lovely community of locals who have been skiing here their entire lives, as well as plenty of foreign workers who choose to return season after season.
I love it here because..
There’s a sense of leaving life’s troubles behind when out on the hill, and when conditions are particularly great, the energy is amazing. The fact that I get to go out riding every day is also excellent. I get to promote a sport and lifestyle that I love and that means a lot to me. It also means a lot to many on the island. I’m surrounded by people at their best, people who are here to have fun.
The challenges are:
Learning the sport and the culture that goes with it! My team has lived and breathed the ski culture since they were small, so there has been a bit of a learning curve for me.
I tried skate skiing this winter and it was a lot harder than I thought but I’d like to keep trying. It’s supposed to be really fun and great exercise once you get the hang of it.
It can also be pretty tough working in an industry that is so weather-dependant.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what we do; if it doesn’t snow enough, we can’t operate.
Why Mount Washington?
The mountain ranges in Canada are stunning. But our resort has the distinction of being on an island in the Pacific, so the alpine-to-ocean views are quite unique. The things I love most are the friendly community, the alpine-to-ocean views and the people I work with.
Is it cold?
Not if you’re dressed properly. It took me a little while to learn how to dress properly and I still get it wrong sometimes! But as long as you’re properly attired, you learn to enjoy the cold. It brings good things like snow and frozen lakes to skate on.
Has your family visited?
My parents visit each year, usually in the summer, but this year they chose to visit in the winter. They got to experience a white Christmas, which was pretty special. I also brought them up snowshoeing in our Nordic area which was definitely a highlight for them.
In my free time..
I go trail running in the beautiful forest that’s right behind my house, swimming in freshwater lakes and waterfalls, canoeing and camping on remote beaches.
Three things I’ll miss most about Canada
The friendly community. The alpine-to-ocean view. The people I work with.
It doesn’t look like I am ever coming home! My heart is now in two places and I’d be homesick either way.
Zoë Cooper is a marketing coordinator at Mount Washington Alpine Resort
Zoë’s tips: Vancouver Island has temperate weather and a lot of variety. On the southern tip is British Columbia’s capital, Victoria, a small and beautiful harbour city. The further north you venture, the more remote it becomes, with rugged and remote beaches to the west. Vancouver Island has it all.
There are plenty of things to see on Vancouver Island all year round. Telegraph Cove is a charming seaside village with a delightfully local vibe. From here, you can go on orca-watching tours or bear-spotting tours.
Explore Butchart Gardens Canada and marvel at this amazing garden.
We have a great post about where to stay around Vancouver Island, including places like Ucluelet, Tofino and Port Hardy hotels too.
For somewhere amazing to visit in BC, read this farm-to-table menu.
Take a peek into the world of this Canadian food author.
Planning to visit Vancouver Island in summer? Here are some places to camp on Vancouver Island.