How White Wolf Rafting Started – An Interview with Owner, Jereme Arsenault
Why did you start White Wolf Rafting?
We’ve always dreamed of offering top-notch, year-round tours. I didn’t have any rafting experience, my only love is dog sledding, but I have a passion for providing high-quality experiences for our guests.
After many years of trying to find a location to run our adventure dog cart tours, I realized that rafting fit our company infrastructure. We have transportation vehicles, trailers, trucks, office space, etc. which weren’t being used for seven months of the year.
How did you get the idea for opening a rafting company in Canmore?
The idea for offering a rafting product was partly inspired by one of my most treasured employees, Will who has worked for Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours for many years. Will is our River Manager and a rafting guru! He has all kinds of rafting certifications from around the world. So when Will offered to run a rafting business if I could find a permit I jumped into action. Will proceeded to create a business plan and find ways to be different, while I pursued the permits, not realizing how expensive they were.
How hard was it to get a river permit?
I discovered that there are only so many rivers and permits available in the Bow Valley and Kananaskis region. You can’t just go buy a river raft permit anytime you want to operate in a Provincial Park. And, there are only so many white water rafting rivers in Alberta.
I kept searching for an opportunity. When I saw a float tour company up for sale I did a bunch of research and learned more about the permit process.
Finally, my hard work paid off. I was able to secure an affordable river permit by purchasing another company. I ended up getting that first permit a bit late in the year. When I bought it, I didn’t realize that if you don’t use it, you lose it. I bought it thinking I had a whole year to get organized, but I discovered after I purchased the company that I had to use it now.
Lucky, Will had already put everything together. So, we got our insurance, articles of incorporation, and safety plans. I learned everything there was to know about rafting and set my new business up in just a couple of months.
What was it like opening a new rafting business?
We opened in mid-June 2019. We knew we were the new company and we knew that until people knew we were a little bit different, a little bit higher quality, better equipment, people got professional photos and snacks, our equipment was really clean, and service was better than anyone else’s. We were ready to kick-ass!
We ended up doing fairly well our first year. We got 47 good reviews on Trip Advisor. I knew our operations were top-notch, and because we have a smaller number of rafts compared to other companies our guides can take groups to surf in the rapids and goof around. Our guests get to experience this because our staff are more specialized.
What makes White Wolf Rafting different from other rafting companies?
Our clients can count on a max of 8 people in a boat whereas our competitors max out at 10. Our tours aren’t crowded, our buses are nice, clean and comfy. Guests’ check-in at our office in Canmore where there are bathrooms and when you’re done your tour you’re back in downtown Canmore. Most importantly, we have the infrastructure to ensure all of our equipment new clean and well maintained.
Last year we were really sad that we weren’t able to operate due to COVID. So, we’re extra excited this season and we’re hoping it’s going to be a busy summer.