Our History

SKILS was founded in 2003 by Piper Harris, Michael Pardy, and Andrew Woodford and JF Marleau joined the team in 2004.  Our goals were simple; we wanted to teach more challenging paddling courses and work with the best paddlers across the country to foster a strong Canadian paddlesports community.  To achieve these goals we realized we needed to do a few things differently.

  • We don’t compete with other canoeing and kayaking businesses.  Instead, we work with your organizations to train your staff, develop local talent, and make sure our skills and knowledge are shared with others.
  • We travel to work. This way, we are exposed to a wide range of paddling environments and the best Canadian paddlers.  This fosters an exchange of ideas and serves to strengthen the paddling community. It also means we are constantly asked to justify our ideas, develop new ones, and keep an open mind.
  • We don’t pre-schedule a lot of courses.  Instead, we work with groups and individuals to design custom programs to meet their schedule and needs.

At the beginning, our goal was to run SKILS for only 3 years, then move on to something different. We obviously failed at this. Many people were skeptical about our plan that focused mainly on teaching more advanced courses and professional courses for guides. Some people were also laughing about our idea and our way of life when they saw us traveling across the country to teach sea kayaking courses with our hippy van, Betsy, and our new-to-us aluminum trailer. A very significant percentage of the courses we are currently offering are unique in Canada. Furthermore, SKILS was also the first in the country to offer many of the other courses we are currently teaching. Over time, a few organizations tried, with different level of success, to copy us at many levels and play catch up. Consequently, our commitment to innovation, best practices, best staff and quality will continue to make us different. Our unique business model pairs us with the best people and organizations in coastal recreation, including retailers, outfitters, schools, and manufacturers. Our unique range of services and wide network of relationships places SKILS at the leading edge of paddlesports training in Canada and globally. No one offers the same diversity and depth of programs.

Centre Name: SKILS

Our Philosophy: Fun: We encourage a high degree of experimentation and play in our work, which translates into a fun and dynamic learning environment. We focus on the principles behind the skills and knowledge, and not just the skills themselves.


Our unique business model pairs us with the best people and organizations in coastal recreation.  Our unique range of services places SKILS at the leading edge of paddle sports in Canada and globally.  No one offers the same diversity and depth of programs.


We challenge clients and staff to explore and question their paddling skills, their knowledge of the world around them, and their relationship to paddling. Through this exploration, you will achieve a strong sense of personal accomplishment and growth. These are the rewards of a SKILS program.

Mailing address: Box 727
Ucluelet, British Columbia
V0R 3A0
Phone: (250) 884-0250