Occupation/Role: Outdoor Enthusiast/Outgoing Chair of MEC
Hometown/Province: St. John’s, Newfoundland
“There’s an old Chinese saying ‘you’ve never lived ‘til you’ve run a raging rapid and ridden a wild horse’,” says Linda Bartlett. “Well, I’ve had horses that have been difficult to handle and I’ve run the canyon of [Newfoundland’s] Main River.” A woman of lean build, extraordinary stamina and sheer love of the outdoors, Bartlett’s roster of adventures (like sitting behind the blowhole of a humpback whale during a rescue mission, or speed skate skiing smack into the face of a bull moose) could well rank her as the female Indiana Jones.
Bartlett probably has more paddling experience under her PFD than any other female in the province. She started canoeing about 20 years ago, completing most of the major rivers of the island – some with her then 165lb Newfoundland dog Bear - and twice running the Churchill River of Labrador lure which she paddled in a solo canoe in 2006. She switched strokes about 10 years ago. “I found a lot of skills used in canoeing I could use in kayaking and I love the sea.”
Driven by physical challenge (the former Captain of the McGill Woodswomen team took gold in a snowshoe race, practicing hard “for fear I’d come in last”), Bartlett spent the Millennium whitewater kayaking in Nepal, “…sitting on a bag of rice paddling with a head of cabbage between my knees.”
Paddle Canada President and a Level 2 instructor trainer, Richard Alexander is quick to recognize Bartlett as a role model. “Her high level of competency is complimented by her enthusiasm to share her knowledge and passion with others. She is, in every sense, a leader in the paddling community.”
For the past four years, Bartlett has brought her enthusiasm for the outdoors and knowledge about gear to the boardroom as chair of Canada’s leading retailer of outdoor gear. “I was drawn to the values of Mountain Equipment Co-op, and it’s become a vehicle for change,” says Bartlett, adding “I’m motivated to make a difference.”
Her day job in Tourism with the provincial government, and involvement with MEC have carved into her time on the water. Next year she intends to change that by paddling more in her home province. “I’m not a fair weather paddler who explores the coast in calm conditions. I enjoy wind and waves. I’m looking forward to challenging myself in the elements.”