Strathcona Wilderness Institute

Inspiring awareness, appreciation and stewardship of Strathcona Provincial Park BC through education and participation

About Us

The Strathcona Wilderness Institute Society was founded to promote sensitive and enjoyable use of the remote and natural Strathcona Provincial Park, which is located in the centre of Vancouver Island, on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada.

The Strathcona Wilderness Institute is a non-profit society incorporated in 1995 whose mission is to inspire awareness, appreciation and stewardship of the natural world through education and participation. Our Constitution & Bylaws are here.

The Institute embraces the goals of the Strathcona Park Master Plan to protect the natural beauty of the park while at the same time promoting public enjoyment and respect for integrity and completeness of the wilderness.

With more park land under government protection and fewer government funds available for services and facilities, it is increasingly necessary for park users to learn to assume responsibility for themselves and to take care of the natural environment by minimizing the impact of their presence.

Strathcona Wilderness Institute believes that by facilitating wilderness experience it will help keep the human spirit in balance in our ever-changing society.

The Role of the Institute
The essential role of the Institute, in partnership with BC Parks and the Friends of Strathcona Park, is to serve as an interface between the Strathcona wilderness and the general public. As a registered non-profit society, the Institute intends to facilitate a co-operative effort to assure support for continuing education and park stewardship.

Canadian Charitable Registration # 89084 9540 RR0001

2015-2016 Board of Directors

Judy Norbury
judy-paradiseJudy has lived in the Comox Valley for 38 years & has always been passionate about the environment, particularly the wild places. She was involved in the action at Clayoquot Sound in 1993 & has been a member of Friends of Strathcona Park. She joined the board of SWI partly to promote the increasingly accessible facilities at Paradise Meadows, i.e., the wheelchair accessible Centennial Trail & the use of a TrailRider mobility device to provide access to the forest trails for people with disabilities.


Alison Maingon
Alison grew up in Scotland, but left the green hills of home for Canada in 1970. After teaching about Greek & Roman culture in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Saskatchewan for over 30 years, she retired in 2011 to an acreage on the Tsolum, close to Strathcona Park. A keen naturalist, environmentalist & avid hiker, she spends as much time as possible studying native flora (including mushrooms) in their habitats from shoreline to alpine, and has guided walks for both SWI & Comox Valley Nature.


Steve Smith
steve In 1977 Steve was offered a position as a mountaineering instructor/guide at Strathcona Park Lodge which changed his life. It gave him an intimate knowledge of & love for Strathcona Park & Canadian wilderness. In 1986, Steve, his wife Marlene, along with a small committed group of “park protectors”, founded the Friends of Strathcona Park. In 1995 with the support of BC Parks & other organizations, Steve formed the SWI. Although BC Parks had ceased all park programs & no longer operated Park Information Centres, Steve & his directors vision for the Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre became a reality with community support & partnerships.

John Waters
johnJohn has been hiking, climbing & skiing in Strathcona Park for over 30 years. He became a director with SWI in 2008, the year the Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre was built. John held the position of secretary with SWI for two years & now contributes mostly with fund raising events and media. He believes the conservation & protection of the Park can be achieved through responsible use & education.


Brenda Geddes
brendaBrenda has lived in the Comox Valley for 25 years & was a teacher for 16 years. She is passionate about parks & education as well as hiking & cross-country skiing. She became a director with SWI in 2011 & has held the position of Secretary for one year. She also enjoys volunteering at the Wilderness Centre in the summer & helps out with fundraising events.



Lindsay Elms
lindsayLindsay arrived on Vancouver Island in 1989 after years of trekking & working around the globe. For eight years he worked as a Mountaineering Instructor for the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training (COLT) program at Strathcona Park Lodge on the edge of Strathcona Park. He has climbed more than 250 of the island’s peaks & has published two books on the history of mountaineering on Vancouver Island.


Allyson Hamilton
Allyson Hamilton, CPA, CA is the Controller for Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary Inc. in Courtenay. Previously she was a Senior Accountant with Pateman Cloutier Matthews LLP Chartered Accountants. Allyson joined the SWI board in 2014. Her previous board experience includes ten years with the North Island College Board of Governors during which she served on the Finance & Audit Committee and the Executive Committee. Allyson has lived in the Comox Valley for over 25 years and enjoys running & hiking around the valley in her spare time.

John Simmons
JOHN_Bio_pic_small_for_SWIJohn, raised in rural England, lived for a couple of years in the Bahamas before moving to Ontario in 1997 & then to the Comox Valley in 2002. Experience in working life has included horticulture, property management, public transit & theatre. Now retired, a love for wild places & the lessons that nature can teach us has found renewed energy here & he is looking forward to assisting in encouraging a greater understanding of our natural world & how to better live in an ever-more disconnected society.


2015 Staff

Krista Kaptein
twitter picKrista coordinated the Programs & Volunteers at the Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre at Paradise Meadows starting in 2010, and took on the expanded Coordinator role of Fundraising & Outreach for the Society from Nov. 2013- June 2015. A naturalist & hiker, she believes that “in Wildness is the preservation of the world”, and has been hiking & photographing in the Park for more than 20 years.


Charlene Cresswell
1506459_10152778762122272_8146526727591480255_n2015 Wilderness Centre & Programs Coordinator. Charlene is a recent graduate from the University of Victoria. She graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies and Geography. Previously, she had volunteered for a another non-profit organization; duties included bird conservation and studies.

Her grandfather is Jack Ware who had pioneered many of the trails in Strathcona park, alongside Sid Watts. Her passion for the park and nature was inspired by her grandfather, and also her Iroquois First Nation background which is on her mothers side. Charlene is an advocate for all things nature and would someday like to work with the K’omoks Nation Band doing restoration through the Guardian Watchmen Program!

Will Brocklebank
2015 Wilderness Centre Staffer/Intern, Fridays to Mondays

Jim Wright
2015 Buttle Hut Staffer, Saturdays & Sundays