Come Wander
Barrie Martin

Barrie Martin

Owner and Experience Leader at Yours Outdoors

Haliburton, Ontario – Haliburton Highlands

Have you ever had a passion for something so great that it inspired you to build your life’s work around it? Barrie Martin has. With a love for Ontario’s Highlands and the great outdoors, he took 28 years of experience with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources educating schools at the Leslie M. Frost Centre to develop his adventure and tour company, Yours Outdoors.

Now he creates memorable experiences for adults looking for learning vacations and adventures in the outdoors. His passion for all things Haliburton is clear as he celebrates the art, nature, history, and people of this vibrant community – the one he calls home.

You have a very unique job, leading visitors to the Haliburton Highlands on incredible adventures that allow them to satisfy their passions and learn. So the obvious question is: Why Haliburton? What makes this region the perfect location to explore and wander?

I think the natural landscapes in terms of the forest and the 600 lakes that we have, provide a great backdrop. In addition to the natural features of the area, we also have some great cultural features like a very strong and vibrant art community, the wellness community is very active, and of course, you have the heritage and history of the area. There are some great stories to be told regarding the local heritage.

Certainly, Haliburton has a rich heritage and culture. What about the community? Are there any particular characteristics that the locals are known for?

I think what visitors will find is friendly, warm people that are interested in sharing their stories. There is also an amazing array of very knowledgeable people, experts in their field, really interesting people doing really interesting things.

Like who?

A couple of examples that come to mind: my colleague Rick Nash, who used to curate the Canadian Canoe Museum when it was up in Ontario’s Highlands before moving to Peterborough. He makes birch bark canoes, and just to stop in and see him build this and tell stories is unique. My friend, the Fur Trader, Mike Buss, is also one to watch and Craig MacDonald who has a collection of snowshoes. We are blessed with characters and very interesting personalities, and certainly, some of the examples of that are the people involved in the arts that add a lot to my enjoyment of the community.

Wait – you know a fur trader? Please explain.

Mike Buss lives and breathes the history of the fur trade and is part of our Fur and Flintlock adventure. It is my favourite because it is as authentic as it gets, a step back into Canada’s history. During the experience, we snowshoe out to his fur trader post, a log cabin which is filled with an amazing collection of artefacts relating to the fur trade. I believe the range and nature of the trade goods he displays is just remarkable. He tells a story from a perspective of a fur trader about the local relationship with the indigenous people, Europeans and the whole trading system. We have a traditional lunch consisting of baked beans, bannock, venison sausages and hot butter rum toddies, in this cozy log cabin setting, and then we hear a few more stories and put the snowshoes back on and head back.

As an experience leader, what does Wandering mean to you?

Wandering means discovery and exploring and I see it from two perspectives: on your own or as a guided wander. Sometimes you don’t have a plan on where to go, so it is nice to have someone to guide you through!

Would you say, then, that it’s possible to spontaneously wander and feed your sense of curiosity while, at the same time, taking part in a guided tour?

Absolutely. Guides can introduce visitors to some of the features in the area – wet their appetite and let them come back and explore more on their own.

Is there one place in Haliburton Highlands that you feel ever visitor to the region should wander to?

My favourite is the Historic Hawk lake log chute, the structure that helped loggers float logs between the lakes to the logging mills. The log chute is at a location where there is a very steep cliff next to the river and in the winter time, because the water is rushing through there very quickly, it sprays and causes a build-up of ice on that cliff. If you get there at the right time in the morning where the sun is shining, that makes for a spectacular winter view.

That sounds like nature at its best. Speaking of nature, Yours Outdoors recently won the 2017 Sustainable Tourism Award from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario. Congrats!

Thank you.

What response have you had from visitors about your efforts to offer experiences that keep the environment in mind, like offering low impact non-motorized activities, keeping small group sizes and avoiding environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands?

I developed Yours Outdoors partly in response to a growing worldwide interest in environmental protection and sustainable travel. The United Nations designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. For my clients, they appreciate our efforts to reduce our impact on the environment and to foster an understanding of ecosystems, how we can live more lightly upon the earth and the importance of community.

You know the community better than anyone. Mind sharing some of your personal favourites in the region?

Sure.

Favourite Restaurant?

Rhubarb

Favourite Pub/Bar?

McKecks

Favourite Stop for Coffee?

Baked and Battered or Upriver Trading Company

Favourite local store?

Algonquin Outfitters