Owner of Western Canoeing and Kayaking in Abbotsford BC, Mary Bayes is a pioneer in the small business world. Once upon a time WC+K was a small business (It all began with Clipper Canoes), and is now a thriving Fraser Valley company – it’s the #1 place for all things paddling in BC! 

I was curious to know more about this local business woman so I reached out and asked if I could interview her. I was delighted she said yes! Without a doubt, Mary makes my Brilliant Girl List!

“Here’s a picture of me with a canoe we built this week. It is 43′ long –the biggest canoe we make. It is going to a good home in Edmonton.”

11 Questions w/Leanne Campbell:

Do you paddle? If so, what is your favourite vessel? (kayak name, favourite gear, etc)

My favorite vessel to paddle in is probably a canoe, although I do like kayaking as well. I started my paddling career in a canoe. In fact I went on my honeymoon in a canoe. My favourite model of canoe is a Clipper Tripper. It is 17 ½’ and is great for wilderness tripping or paddling with my kids.

In the late 70’s when you gave up your teaching career to invest your time into your own small business (Clipper Canoes), were you nervous about quitting your profession and giving that up … to step into the unknown (being self-employed)?

It was a little nerve wracking, but I knew I could always go back to teaching because I had good teaching evaluations and references.

You’re a Grandmother – congrats! What do you love the most about being a grandmother?

Exploring the outdoors with them. We have a cabin at Birch Bay and they love playing on the beach. Paddling with them and watching wildlife and fishing are great fun.

If you could give a woman (who wants to start her own business) any advice, what would it be?

Do your homework! Find a mentor or someone who is running a business similar to the one you want to start and pick their brain. Your expenses will always be more than you anticipate and your revenue will be less than you forecast (Well at least for the first few years.) If you can make it through the early years, you’ll probably have a successful business.

I imagine you love what you do! But, if you could do anything else, other than operate WC+K, what would it be and why?

I got my private pilot’s license when I turned 50. I think I would have enjoyed being a commercial pilot.

In your free time (like you have any of that), what do you love to do?

I love to travel, but I have to admit that I haven’t done as much as I would like.

If you could change anything about the world – OK, let’s start with Canada – what would it be?

I would like to see free post secondary education, not just for University, but also for trade schools, etc. (I guess that’s just the teacher in me.) On a world scale, I would like to see global warming become a world-wide focus.

If your best friend described you in 3 words, what would they be?

I asked some of my friends and they said, “Intelligent, giving, and funny”

What do you love the most about living in the Fraser Valley?

I love the weather, yes even the rain! I love the people who live here too and I get to meet a lot of them at my business. It’s a good feeling to know that we are equipping them with canoes, kayaks, and boards that they will build special memories with.

What are 2 of your favourite local businesses (other than your own)? And what do you love about them?

I like Warehouse One for clothing because they have good quality, good prices, and they have good service. I like Costco because they have good quality, good prices, and you know that you won’t get good service and they are up front that it’s just a warehouse – so don’t expect it.

What is a question you’ve never been asked, that you would like to be asked? And, what is your answer?

What do you like best – Kiwi or banana? I like Kiwi’s best. (Wow, that was a tough one!)

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A woman after my own heart. Anyone who loves the west coast rain + knows the importance of understanding global warming is a good woman in my books. <grin> Thank you, Mary. It was an honour to interview you & get to know you a bit better!

Info:

WC+K: Western North America’s Premier Paddle Sports Dealer!

Mary Bayes