How do you choose an interpretive tour guide or escort?
You've developed the perfect tour package. You've got a new motorcoach, top
notch tour director, and booked all the best hotels. Now all you need is a great
step-on guide for your trip through the Rockies.
A good step-on or nature guide takes your group on a journey through stories, sights and sounds and helps to
ensure fond memories. Ward Cameron Enterprises works with the top guides serving
the Canadian Rockies.
We are also spearheading a move to get guides certified and trained at an
extremely high level. New certifications by the Alberta Tourism Education
Council (ATEC) and the Mountain Parks Heritage Interpretation Association
(MPHIA) will help us to ensure highly trained guides. Over the next 12 months we
will be working with our guides to bring them to these highest training
What background and education should you look for?
an excellent knowledge of the natural and human history of the Canadian
a strong background in the tour industry
a knowledge of local attractions, prices, hours and benefits
formal education in tourism, outdoor recreation, history or the natural
current certification in first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation
should have attended the Banff's Best Heritage Orientation
What qualifications can distinguish the very best guides?
certificate of participation from Interpretation Canada's Level 1 and 2
certification by the Alberta Tourism Education Council
(ATEC) at the
level of Local Tour Guide or Heritage Interpreter
certification by the Mountain Parks Heritage Interpretation Association
the Professional Heritage Interpreter level
Sample questions to help you assess potential guides
Q: When was Banff National Park established, and what is
A: It was established in 1885 as a 10 square mile preserve
around the Cave & Basin Hot Springs, making it the first national park
in Canada, third in the world (Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. and
Royal National Park in Australia beat us to the punch).
Q: What is the travel time between Banff and the
Columbia Icefields, and how long does the Columbia Icefields Snowcoach Tour
A: The direct driving time is approximately 2.5 hours one
way. The Icefields tour takes around 1.5 hours from the time your group is
picked up by the shuttle bus to the time you are dropped back off at the Icefields
Chalet after the tour.
Q: Who was the first non-native to set eyes on Lake
A: Tom Wilson, while working as a packer for the Canadian
Pacific Railway was the first to see the lake in August of 1882. He was led
to the lake by his Stoney Indian guide after hearing what sounded like
thunder. The sound was the reverberating crash of immense blocks of ice
breaking off the glaciers and crashing to the valley bottom.
Who is the Mountain Parks Heritage Interpretation Association (MPHIA) and why
is certification by this association important when you are evaluating potential
In an effort to improve the level of knowledge and training of front-line
staff, the Mountain Parks Heritage Interpretation Association is an alliance
between Parks Canada and private industry with one single purpose--a better
trained guide. Presently, there are two levels of certification, the corporate
certification and the Professional Level Heritage Interpreter. Parks Canada has
made it clear that they will be making certification a condition of business licensing
by April of 2001. Any tour or hiking guide working within the Mountain Parks
(Banff/Jasper/Yoho/Kootenay) will need to be certified. Finally, there is an
organized body that will be responsible for ensuring that guides working in the
Rockies actually know their stuff!