Over the past 24 years Winterdance has brought so many gifts and blessings into our lives. But one of the biggest is the incredible people who have joined our team and family in the winter to help care for our huskies and guests! While many will head off for summer adventures, it is with excitement that we approach fall as the guides all start getting in touch again, and by November & December it is like a homecoming as they all start rolling into Haliburton complete with tales of their summer adventures! We feel truly honoured & privileged to have these great folks as part of our Winterdance team and those of you who have met them know exactly what we mean!!
Growing up on a farm, Hank has had a love of animals and the outdoors his whole life. From working on his family farm to a herdsman at a neighbour dairy farm to a millwright on agricultural silo’s, Hank has always been happiest outside either working or racing motorcycles or his monster truck. But it wasn’t until huskies Colt, Tundra, Ice & Lucy entered Hank and Tanya’s lives that he even thought of dogsledding. Now he is often heard say he gets a bigger adreneline rush from heading out with a team of dogs into the wilderness than he ever did any other way. Hank’s love and commitment for the couples huskies and adventure has taken him all over North America with their Siberians. They have competed in 4 Yukon Quests and 2 Iditarod’s along with many shorter races. While Hank loves the solitude of exploring the wilderness with his 4 legged best friends, he can still be found guiding tours as well when not racing or boiling maple syrup. The full day and moonlite tours he almost always guides personally and what a treat guests are in for as he has stories few on the planet can rival.
Being the oldest in the family Logan has been on a dogsled for over 20 years. Besides racing in the Haliburton Derby for years, he also competed in the 120 mile Junior Iditarod in Alaska when he was 17. Like his father Logan enjoys the piece and quiet of the wilderness and is responsible (along with his dog Angus) for keeping our trails groomed and maintained. Occassionally he will guide a tour. Logan’s passion is also flying and he has almost completed his commercial pilot’s license, with his sights also set on a helicopter license. He also holds a 2nd degree black belt in Karate, and has a snowplowing business.
Dustyn first hopped on the runners of his own dogsled at the age of 3 and has covered hundreds of miles on a sled since with our familes huskies- from helping guide tours from the age of 14 to racing in the Haliburton Derby yearly. Dustyn’s passion is also the ocean and marine life and he started his own diving business for lost treasures (jewellery to cells phones, etc) 4 years ago and is now a certified commercial diver and also a divemaster. Dustyn also enjoys travelling, photography, curling and the outdoors and could be found the last few summers also selling our family’s maple syrup at the Haliburton County Farmer’s Market
Michaela ran her first race on her own when she was at 3 years of age, and has loved dogsledding ever since. She helps care for the dogs, but can also be found out training them. At 18, she is will be guiding full time this winter. Michaela’s other passions include horses, cats, dance, and traveling.
Being the youngest in the family Jessica decided at 2 she was old enough to dogsled like everyone else and convinced Hank to let her enter the kid & mutt race. She has loved caring for the dogs and has been dogsledding ever since, she takes great pride at spoiling our elder dogs. At 15 she is our youngest team member but still has 13 years experience. Jessica loves all animals and the outdoors as well as guitar and acting.
I never thought my passion for the outdoors, hard physical work and love for animals could combine into the most enjoyable job ever. Yet here I am in my second winter dogsledding in the beautiful Haliburton Highlands. When I am not sledding or scooping poop you can find me resting my weary bones, eating Christmas cake and doing pyrography.
Craig spent his youth in the great outdoors between southern Ontario and the Almaguin Highlands.
After finishing school at UWO with Physical Education & Visual Arts BA’s, he traveled and lived abroad for 25 years.
During this time Craig Instructed and Guided Tours in a variety of outdoor activities including SCUBA diving, Canoeing, Water skiing, Jet skiing, and Performing for film and live action shows.
With a genuine love for the natural environment, he also created Eco-Art from beach found and recycled materials leading to a collaboration with Asian government projects to teach Environmental Education & Recycling to island villagers.
Craig recently returned to Canada and got back into instructing and guiding outdoor adventure tours in the Algonquin area.
He had also returned home with 2 northern breed dogs, he rescued in tropical Asia and was determined to get them doing what they should; dog-sledding!
Craig & the dogs learned the ropes from a friend and got hooked. It was at that moment that he realized it would be a dream-job to combine his love for dogs, the winter outdoors and guiding, which led him here, to join the pack at Winterdance.
I grew up on a turkey farm in southern Ontario, which led to a love of being outside, working with my hands, and being surrounded by animals. I own a masonry business that I operate throughout the other 3 seasons and have been in the masonry trade for 13 years. In my spare time, I like to go backpacking, hiking, canoeing, fishing, or practicing my archery, anything to keep me outdoors. Much like the dogs, I am considered quite food driven, so I also enjoy cooking from my garden, foraging, and have recently taken up the art of mead making. It’s my first season at Winterdance, and I’m super excited to be part of the pack.
Darren is enjoying his first season with Winterdance after close to two decades of experience in journalism, which included being a reporter, photographer and, most recently, the editor of local publications, the Haliburton County Echo, the Minden Times and County Life. Through the newspapers, he has known the owners, Tanya and Hank since they started, having either photographed or written about them and their children. He welcomed the opportunity to work with Winterdance this winter when he decided to change careers.
Although he has had limited experience driving dogsleds, he welcomes learning experiences, and is a passionate adventurer, enjoying the outdoors and regularly engages in “type two” fun – intense physical activities, which has led him to head to the woods for trail running, mountain biking, multi-day bikepacking rides and backpacking trips, including the Lake Superior Coastal Trail. He looks forward to sharing his passion for the outdoors and welcomes the opportunity to help people with their once-in-a-lifetime experiences dogsledding in the Highlands.
Growing up in the middle of her Grandparents farm, Tanya has adored animals and the outdoors her whole life. Passionate about the environment she pursued a degree in Environmental Engineering at Guelph and continued on to earn her P.Eng. before deciding with Hank that their passion for the wilderness and their dogs were taking them in a different direction. As 4 children joined their family as Winterdance was started, Tanya took the management side of the business on so she could be home with the kids thanks to a home office. She has also wrote 2 best selling books about the couples adventures, done a Tedx talk, races and loves taking the stage as a keynote speaker to Fortune 100 companies and large organizations sharing their stories and lessons around leadership, building great teams, overcoming challenges and chasing dreams.
To learn more about Tanya’s keynotes or to get in touch about having her speak to your team visit www.TanyaMcCready.com.
Barb joined our family 15 years ago to help Tanya with the children part time and as the kids have grown so have Barb’s roles and responsibilities. A retired elementary school principal from Toronto and an adventurer herself, Barb can take the craziness of our household, business and racing in stride. Don’t know what we would ever do without her! You can usually find Barb at the trailhead on busy days welcoming our guests and preparing them for their tour.
Sue is a lifetime cottager in Haliburton and moved here permanently in 2003 when she and her husband Ed purchased a restaurant in Carnarvon. Shortly after moving here, we met her at the restaurant and through Tourism groups and as they say, “the rest is history”. Sue and Ed sponsored Hank’s race team through fundraising dinners at the restaurant and even joined us in Anchorage in 2012 for the start of Hank’s 2nd Iditarod. As their plans moved towards selling the restaurant, Sue joked about working for us after it sold. She has now been with us since the winter of 2014. Sue has worked at the trail greeting guests, stayed at the house with the family when we are away and now works remotely on much of the behind the scenes things that need to be done. Sue is the talent behind our newsletters. If you don’t currently receive them, sign up and see what she puts together each month.
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