John, the youngest of 5 siblings, spent summers at the family cottage and canoeing in Algonquin Park in the early years. His teen years were spent in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver mostly getting into trouble but always adventuring into the bush. His working career began in construction which led to numerous different places, including an international stint in West Africa teaching carpentry.
John went on to lead “Court-ordered” Young Offenders into the wilds of Howe Sound for a decade and continued one-to-one youth probation work in Squamish. John’s vision for engaging his clients in community projects, tied to the non-profit sector, was so successful that he was nominated for Citizen-of-the-Year locally and for the Premier’s Award provincially. He co-founded the Squamish Trails Society which facilitated many projects.
As a rock climber, John was also intimately involved in the development of the Smoke Bluffs Park, instrumental in many projects such as the Playpark with Biennale sculpture.
As an active whitewater canoeist, John saw the need to regain access to the Mamquam River and thus began his plan to fundraise monies from the paddling world to repair the washed-out road and thereafter, the creation of the Mamquam River Access Society (2008). See MRAS history to get a sense of MRAS's further accomplishments.
Pierre is a Sea-to-Sky local since 1968, having grown up in Whistler, schooled in Pemberton, and now residing in Squamish since 1990. He grew up feral and likes to keep it that way - a bioregionalist at heart - with a deep connection to place. Whether it is work or play, he is generally in the bush: as a dirt-guy, or geomorphologist specializing in earth history and landslide hazards, he has explored every nook and cranny in the Squamish-Lillooet area; and if not for work, then backcountry skiing, sea-kayaking, biking, hiking, climbing; doing outdoor things that keep one connected to nature. He lives not too far from Mamquam River and has found solace in River walks and has several favourite spots for taking invigorating dips (watch out for the nude guy with the beard). The dike by the campground is part of a regular circuit, and for years the land in behind was an abandoned industrial site overgrown with weeds, impenetrable, a place to bypass and avoid. So what the campground represents, the vision, is an expression of commitment to place, a revitalization and renewal, and finally a gift back to the larger community, a return. Now others who come to Squamish to experience the “adventure capital" can find inexpensive and rustic camping in the heart of town: enjoy.
Elspeth is a Kiwi-born Canadian who came to BC to ski on a working holiday in the 1980s. After years of living off-grid, Trail-running, hiking, back-country & Nordic skiing, she found herself working at a Mamquam River hydro-electric plant, where she met John Harvey working on river access. She helped raise funds for MRAS from movie companies and, in 2017, volunteered for a few months, building campsites in the forest at the campground.
Having grown up tramping in New Zealand where the 980 huts and many tracks make tramping a popular pastime and recently as a bicycle-tourist & sea-kayaker, Elspeth appreciates MRAS’ provision of a campground and other facilities aimed at outgoing people who want an affordable, accessible and friendly campground to use as a base from which to explore the many charms of the Squamish area. MRAS’ No Trace camping fits nicely with the NZ Hut use ethic: “leave the hut cleaner than you found it”
Adam Mercer has a strong connection with nature, outdoor recreation and conservation. His love for the outdoors was instilled by his parents at a young age. In 1996 Adam moved from Ottawa to Vancouver Island taking up residence as an outdoor educator and guide with Strathcona Park lodge. Upon moving to the Sea to Sky in 2000 Adam found his calling and joined the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Patrol, and is now the Patrol Director there. Adam met John Harvey in 2004 and has been inspired by his community spirit and enduring work ethic ever since. Adam was the first MRAS Director and has been excited by what this society has accomplished so far.
Kai Friele was born and raised in Squamish. He is 21, and the youngest MRAS board member. His time with the organization started with many hours on the phone with the founder, John Harvey, writing the governing policy and procedure manual. Having been raised by naturalist and out-door recreationalist parents, Kai was immersed in the outdoors from a young age and as a result holds a world view enshrined in, and guided by, the deep ecology perspective and questions of environmental ethics. The Mamquam River watershed has played a principal role in Kai’s upbringing and he has developed an intimate relationship with this area. The Mamquam River watershed is where he learnt to bike, climb, and whitewater kayak. As a rambunctious elementary student, he even snorkeled in its flooded tributaries and ditches. Inspired by the intricacies and utmost importance of the natural environment, Kai is now pursuing a degree in Forest Ecology at the University of Victoria. As a Whitewater paddler, naturalist and aspiring biologist Kai values his MRAS board position as an opportunity to be a spokesperson for both kayakers and the wellbeing of the river and its surrounding habitat.
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