Deep Roots plants itself in new Wilberforce home
By Sue Tiffin
Published May 30, 2017
Corina Mansfield is passionate about being outdoors, but it wasn’t always that way. A few years ago she was feeling a bit bored of her work as an outdoor guide and educator.
“We do this all the time, so I forgot that it is new for people, or starting a fire is exciting, or being outside is intimidating,” she said.
Then one day, she found her spark again in the form of an excited hiker who was experiencing much of nature and outdoor adventure for the first time.
“She’d never lit a match,” said Mansfield. “She was so excited about it. I would teach her something or show her something and she’d say, “that’s amazing. That’s mind blowing.’ She was so overwhelmed with everything and happy and impressed with herself that she was doing something. I thought, ‘this is what I need. I need to suck her enthusiasm in and remember how exciting it is for the people I’m teaching. If I’m not excited, they won’t be excited.’”
Now, Mansfield is thrilled to move Deep Roots Adventure, which began as Deep Roots Team Building in 2011, out of her basement and into a permanent home with a storefront.
“I’m excited and terrified,” she said.
Deep Roots Adventure Hub opened earlier this month in what used to be the Wilberforce library on Loop Road. The process to purchase the building with help from an Haliburton County Development Corporation loan, and then get it rezoned, took some time, but when she took possession of the place at the end of March, Mansfield was ready.
“I ripped that carpet out in my sleep every night for five months,” she laughed.
Now, the space has been fully renovated and restored to be an adventure outfitter and outdoor centre.
“Our big thing is making people feel comfortable and confident in the wild,” said Mansfield.
Together with a team of employees, Mansfield offers trip planning, workshops, wilderness school, field trips, camping and recreation supplies and guided adventures that include a field lunch.
“People can get a naturalist for an interpretive, guided hike,” said Mansfield. “They’ve got someone who knows where they’re going and can actually point out the cool things they wouldn’t even look at because they were just hiking by them. It kind of blows people away. With our learn-to-camp workshops, we’re really hoping this year that we can get that out to new Canadians, help them figure out what it is that we Canucks love about being outside.”
The Hub is intended to be just that – a place for people to meet, use classroom space, get organized for an adventure, or relax and get together after one. Canoes, tents, sleeping bags, stoves – even sporks – are available for rent from the space, and an information area helps adventurers plan their next trip.
“There’s no one doing this on the southeast side of Algonquin,” said Mansfield. “I’m hoping to fill that gap and that need that’s there.”
Mansfield is creating an accessible space that is open to all, and hopes to be able to invite multi-generational families and travellers from abroad.
“People keep asking me, ‘who’s your audience?’ And I’m like, ‘everybody,’” said Mansfield. “I want people to get that addiction, that nature addiction.“
Mansfield grew up in Harcourt, making trails through forests in her youth. As a Cadet, she spent a considerable amount of time outside, and was recruited as a search and rescue volunteer because of her knowledge of navigation and first aid. Even as a teenager, Mansfield’s mock company – the Blue Planet Adventure Company – in her Grade 9 entrepreneur class was hinting at what was to come.
“I love being outside,” she said. “I love teaching, too – but not in a traditional teaching sense. I love taking people out and seeing them get excited and get confident. Every time I teach a survival class, especially a group of women, they always say they feel so empowered, and I go home feeling high on it.”
Mansfield is also excited to continue collaborating with Adventure Haliburton, and with other groups and businesses in and near the county.
“I look forward to using her facility for my groups,” said Barrie Martin, owner and operator of Yours Outdoors. “It’s a good meeting place for people who are meeting to go on a rock hounding expedition and get people started from there.”
Martin praised Mansfield’s expertise and skills as a hike leader and guide, and praised her courage in setting up shop.
“Kudos to her for taking a leap and making things happen,” he said. “What’s exciting is her enthusiasm and that it’s a new business in Wilberforce.”
“It’s a wonderful thing for the community,” said Joan Barton, Highlands East councillor. “We’re thrilled to have Corina here. It ties in with a direction that council sees economic development here heading, with environmental tourism and wilderness tourism. We’re absolutely delighted.”
Deep Roots Adventure Hub is located at 2307 Loop Road in Wilberforce. More information is available at deeprootsadventure.com.