Staff Highlight: Daryl Dancer

We have an incredible staff team at Farewell Harbour Lodge. Each staff member comes with a different background, skill set and strengths making our team varied and diverse. These differences and strengths blend together to create our warm and friendly Farewell family. So, we thought it would be nice to start a staff highlight series to celebrate our amazing and appreciated staff members. We would like to share a little more about one of our most experienced guides, Daryl Dancer, to kick off the series!

Daryl is a water-loving person. She has spent the majority of her life working and playing in marine and aquatic environments. Growing up in northwestern Ontario, she spent a lot of time on interior lakes. This affinity has been growing since a very young age when she took her first-ever boat ride at only six months old. Later in her childhood, Daryl took up recreational sailing and has continued this hardcore hobby to this day. She loves her sailboat so much that Daryl sails up to Farewell Harbour at the beginning of each season and anchors in the bay to sleep aboard her boat after a hard day's work. Every evening she rows a small rowboat from the lodge home to her little floating abode where she enjoys the peace, quiet, and gentle rocking of the waves. Daryl also volunteered and trained for 11 years with marine search and rescue, combining her passion for being on the water with her interest in helping others.   Photo by: Lesley Bainbridge

Daryl got her first job as a bear viewing guide at Knight Inlet Lodge when she was hired in 2007 by Tim, the Operations Manager at the time. She said, “This job kind of found me because I trained in outdoor recreation and environmental assessment technology, and I’d never heard of bear viewing before. So one night at a friend’s house party, I was talking to the host about my background, and he said, ‘Woah, have you ever thought about being a guide?’ And I just thought the whole idea of it was incredible. And of course, I never told anybody that I was petrified of bears! But I convinced myself I wasn’t going to let this stop me. I’m sure I can get over it!” And I think we can all agree, that she’s most definitely conquered that fear with grace and determination.

From Knight Inlet Lodge, Daryl went on to work with Tide Rip Grizzly Tours, which operates out of Telegraph Cove, and she worked with Tim again at Spirit Bear Lodge, in the First Nations community of Klemtu on BC’s northern coast. At Spirit Bear Lodge, Daryl quickly developed the nickname Aunty D, and whether she liked it or not, it stuck! When I asked her about it, she said, “Oh that! A couple of the First Nations skippers started calling me Aunty, and at first, I was like, ‘I’m nobody’s aunty!’ but then Tim told me it was a sign of respect, so I decided just to let it roll.” The nickname must’ve stuck because when you work with Daryl, you can’t help but look up to her.


Although Daryl must have hundreds of great stories from her years of guiding, one of her favourite things is getting to know individual Grizzly bears and their behaviours and temperament. When you watch them over the years, you learn that they all have different personalities, and when you recognize individual bears, you can view them more comfortably. One story she told was from her time at Spirit Bear Lodge. “During one of my last tours, I had a precocious subadult, and he was looking at me, and I could tell that he was about to push the boundaries. And so, I had to get aggressive with my voice around him. He was being so cheeky! Not in a harmful way, but he was encroaching on our sit spot when he was not supposed to. So I used my big bear voice, and he eventually turned around and continued upriver. That’s why you need to understand the temperaments of the bears we’re viewing. I remembered that bear being cheeky from last year.”

In the off-season from her guiding work, Daryl works in partnership with the Commercial Bear Viewing Association (CBVA) as an instructor for a blended delivery course to be a level 1 bear viewing guide. She has also developed her own online content for bear safety and awareness for a more recreational audience. This information is geared towards avid outdoors people and the hiking community to get them interested in bear awareness to help keep both people and bears safe. Although she’s still developing her website and training platform, there are some excellent resources and recorded lectures about bear safety at www.daryldancer.com. Here at Farewell Harbour Lodge, we’re very fortunate to have a deeply experienced guide such as Daryl. Her knowledge and expertise add to the richness and depth of our team!

By: Sylvie Stewart Grantham

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