If you are looking for adventure and a family-friendly outdoor experience, Zelda’s River Adventures Ltd., New Brunswick’s first eco-friendly, electrically powered, disability accessible, 260 square foot pontoon boat is just the right experience for you!
Zelda McKenzie, along with husband David, are the company’s proud owners. Regulated by Transport Canada Marine, the boat can hold up to 12 people including Captain Zelda. The tours depart from the floating dock at the Lighthouse River Centre in Hampton daily, morning, afternoon and evening during the summer months. In the off season Monday to Thursday 9am to 12pm; Friday, Saturday and Sunday - Morning, Afternoon or Sunset. Her season runs from May until October 31.
Zelda’s journey into entrepreneurship has been an adventure in itself. Zelda proudly hails from Renforth, NB and became a mother and married at 17 years of age. Working as a waitress and in the hospitality sector in my early years until becoming part of the Fundy Communications Team from 1987-1999. After being in communications and a part of leading technology when Fundy restructured, Zelda decided to take an e-Commerce course in 2000. She then worked at help desks in several different companies. A turning point came when she found herself single in the fall of 2003 and unemployed in January of 2005.
But times of adversity often bring new opportunities. Her new love of her life stood by this strong woman in business, and showed her a whole new way of living on the river. According to Zelda, “I applied to drive School Bus and joined my partner in raising his children in a faith community. Our times spent on the river with the two small children and our dog was magical. We would spend upwards to 20 hours a week in our small hand made cedar boat with its 5hp motor, fishing and talking.”
Zelda describes making a snack and packing some drinks and off they would go on the river. As it is such a great way to relax and get to know one another, Zelda could not figure out why more people were not using this part of the river. Floating on the Kennebecasis, where it is so breath taking with its slow moving waters and wild life and the autumn colors are indescribable, is where Zelda and husband David began planting seeds about running a boat tour business.
Any savvy entrepreneur knows that to start a business, you must make connections.
“I ran with the idea, thinking much smaller and only wanting to use our personal boat and canoes, until David suggested using a pontoon boat. So I contacted CBDC and presented a business plan and with their help and NB Association of CBDC’s and the wonderful support of the Hampton NOW ladies, Zelda’s River Adventures was born.”
Since Zelda missed the 2007 season, she worked long hours on networking, building her web site and marketing the business to be ready for 2008’s season.
“I attended seminars and courses put on by Danielle Sullivan of the NB Association of CBDCs, as well as the local CBDC to learn as much as I could about running a business of my own. They provided help in any way I needed it.”
Zelda adds, “There is more to running a business than meets the eye. I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life and many different nationalities, their expression when they see a blue heron or bald eagle for the first time, or when they catch their first fish is worth all the hard work. Being on the river is the best part of my day.”
She also received excellent advice from her parents and grandmother, who always told her that she could do anything she puts her mind too and “when God closes a door he always opens a window”.
“I found if I had a passion to do something in my life, as long as I put my mind to it, and looked beyond the window it could be done.” Zelda’s brother was always an entrepreneur and she says that he struggled in the beginning like any entrepreneur and ran a successful convenience store business for 16 years. If she can give advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, “For anyone that wants to open their own businesses, if you have passion go, for it.”
Zelda’s hard work has certainly paid off in the first year. She was honored to win the Small Business of the Year by the Hampton & Area Chamber of Commerce.
She also supports her community by holding one hour tours for a donation to the Hampton food bank, heading up the TD Great Canadian shore line clean up in September, providing discounts for people in wheelchairs and non-profit organizations and donating some trips to worthy causes in the community. This busy woman also became a volunteer and a board member and treasurer of Ossekeag Place of Hampton United Church, a 32 unit senior’s complex that should have its first tenant in July of this year. According to Zelda, “To anyone that hasn’t volunteered, do it, it is the most rewarding and beneficial thing I believe I have ever done.”
Now that the weather is getting nicer, it is time to think River! Zelda encourages you to customize your own tours for fishing, family get-togethers, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, team-building, business meetings, photographers; you decide. The Kennebecasis River offers nature at its best. The cost of a Captained 3 hour tour is $30/adult and $20/children under 14, full boats require a $100.00 deposit. Specials are available for Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the Boys Scouts and Girl Guides.
For more information about Zelda and to plan your 2009 adventures, visit her Website at: www.zeldasriveradventures.ca