ZIP-A-Dee-Doo-Dah!

1 Oct 2011

College of the North Atlantic

Martin Flynn took his love for the outdoors and turned it into a hit business. Flynn is the CEO of Marble Zip Tours in Steady Brook, the only zip line in Atlantic Canada. He is also a graduate of College of the North Atlantic’s two-year Adventure Tourism-Outdoor Recreation program.

He says the college gave him all the skills necessary to start his business. The program covered all the general studies areas, but the specialized courses are what piqued his interest.

“We had some specific courses to help manage your own business, and courses which were very hands-on” explains Flynn. “I found these very practical- things I would use in the real world.”

Flynn enjoyed the hands-on courses the most such as kayaking, canoeing, field navigation and class road trips- anything outside the traditional classroom setting.

Once he completed the program, Flynn had developed the skills to travel and put them to good use. He did this by working as a sports director on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

“As I travelled, I learned about different cultures and people. However, doing the Adventure Tourism program led me to my career. I wanted to do something unique, less mainstream and something that would fall more into the ‘hard’ adventure category, yet something anyone could enjoy,” says Flynn.

The zip line idea didn’t come out of thin air. Flynn had it in the back of his mind since he was a kid growing up in Forteau Labrador.

“Growing up in a small town, sometimes we had to make our own fun or be a little creative. We didn’t have your everyday amenities (which I don’t think is a bad thing”, but we always had a close group of friends. I was always the one for being outdoors.”

Flynn had a yearning to be out of the house so he and a friend built a makeshift zip line across a sand dune.

“It was not nearly as safe or advanced as my current operation, but definitely a similar idea. We built it for ourselves, but in no time we had people from all over Forteau coming down to look at it and try it.”

When he came to Corner Brook to complete the Adventure Tourism-Outdoor Recreation program he spent a lot of time at Steady Brook Falls.

“All I could think about every time I visited was, ‘imagine a zip-line across that!’ I kept it fairly quiet and when I finished school I did some traveling and research and decided to pursue it further. A few years later I turned a childhood dream into my job.”

Marble Zip Tours, which has just celebrated its third anniversary, is like nothing anyone has experience in Newfoundland and Labrador. The attraction consists of nine zip cables and accompanying platforms placed at various elevations along Marble Mountain Gorge. Thrill seekers wear a harness and helmet as they soar from platform to platform; feeling a mix between parachuting and flying, zipping across lines over 1,000 feet along and elevations nearing 300 feet (the highest in Canada), reaching speeds of more than 80 kilometres an hour!

Many of the trained guides at Marble Zip Tours have also completed the Adventure Tourism-Outdoor Recreation program at CNA. They offer tours up to six times daily in July and August and four times daily during the winter months. Thousands of people from Atlantic Canada, Germany, New Zealand and all corners of the globe have zipped across Marble Mountain Gorge.

Flynn says he picked this as a career because it was his passion. He encourages anyone looking into the Adventure Tourism-Outdoor program to do the same. His motto is, ‘do what you like and like what you do’.

“Just remember, there are three things in life we must do; eat, sleep and 99.9 per cent of us have to work. I figured that work takes up a lot of my time, so I better enjoy it.”

To see pictures, videos or to book a trip, check out their website at www.marbleziptours.com or find them on Facebook.

Summer zip lining

Winter zip lining