Pat and Diana Brooks
After retiring from successful careers as a fire chief and hospital lab manager, Pat and Diana Brooks bought the Gold Rush Campground in Dawson City, Yukon. This provides the perfect lifestyle for them. They operate the campground from May until September and then travel the world the rest of the time.
The campground has 82 sites, catering primarily to the RV market. The Brooks take care of all the budgeting, accounting, and major mechanical repairs, plus planting the garden, while four full-time staff perform the front-office functions and outdoor activities, including cleaning washrooms, gardening and painting. The season’s first guests arrive in early June and stay until the first snowfall in late August.
Neither Pat nor Diana had tourism-specific training, but they possess strong managerial backgrounds as a result of their careers. They pride themselves on knowing their community by working closely with the Visitor’s Association in Dawson City. Pat is currently the president of the Dawson Chamber of Commerce. Through the Visitor Centre, they created and distributed a newsletter to dispel the bad press about the recent fires in the Yukon. They also attend the annual BC Lodging Association conference to meet with other campground operators to learn and share what is happening across BC and the Yukon.
They both like to help people, whether it is to meet their needs regarding a camping spot, finding a local doctor, or even a good restaurant for dinner. It is a gruelling drive from Whitehorse to Dawson City (about 500 miles on some challenging roads), so visitors tend to arrive tired and grumpy. Pat and Diana recognize the fatigue factor, and feel it is their primary job to settle guests in, give them a chance to relax and make sure there are no further impediments to their enjoyment of the area.
Even though they entered the field at an age when most people are considering slowing down, they would certainly recommend a tourism career to their peers. “There are lots of opportunities for work in this industry, and it is continuing to grow,” they say. “Ours is a perfect example of the entrepreneurial opportunities that are available in this industry.”