When former Whistlerites Dave Rouleau and Monika Benkovich still lived in the resort, they met a whole host of interesting characters with compelling stories to tell.
Now, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that will see them travel from St. John's to Whistler in less than 20 days, they're looking to share some stories of their own through a website that will feature original video and written content.
The couple, who are engaged, met their funding goal of $7,700 on Monday, March 17, with just over an hour to spare, and will now set their sights on hitting every major city in the southern provinces to meet one-on-one with fascinating Canadians across the country. The plan is to relaunch a website Rouleau started several years ago, snowboarding site www.gnarcore.com, populating it with authentic and original content that falls within 10 categories, from love to health, and from music to sports. They will also accept content from contributors along with producing their own original material.
The Kickstarter funds will go towards renting an RV and used camera gear for the trip, with plans to seek out homegrown events and local hangouts to find compelling stories to tell.
"Newspapers do a great job of covering the news, and snowboarding websites do a great job of covering snowboarding, but we wanted to do something more cultural and tell people's stories," said Rouleau, a former promoter for Whistler nightclub Garfinkel's. "It'll be a little bit of gonzo journalism, a little bit of investigative journalism, living it, experiencing it, going on adventures and writing about it."
It became clear shortly after the pair first found each other about a year and a half ago, during what Rouleau called "an impromptu business meeting," that they had the same vision for a website and "urge to tell stories and provide media."
Rouleau had discovered through his own blog that the best way to draw traffic to his site was through delivering original and engaging content, and that's just what they set out to do after hatching a plan from Benkovich's hometown of Hamilton in the past few months.
It isn't the first time the couple has branched out of their romantic relationship into a more business-minded venture; they also ran a short-lived art gallery out of a Vancouver commercial space, and managed a private building in the Downtown Eastside for six months.
But even with some unique experiences from elsewhere in their rearview mirrors, it was Whistler and the type of characters that are drawn here that helped cement the pair's love for telling stories.
"Something we definitely talked about was how Whistler is this hub for a lot of interesting people, and we had a lot of interesting relationships there," Rouleau said.
"I realized after moving there 10 years ago... that I know people from one end of the country to the other, and beyond, that are doing awesome things. Even kids I met you might've thought were just in Whistler partying and skiing, they go back to their hometown and start a shop, or start a band, or someone's making a movie now, or this guy's nominated for a Juno, or this guy's going to the Olympics.
"Whistler is just such an amazing place."
Rouleau and Benkovich leave from Newfoundland April 2, with plans to arrive in Whistler for the final day of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival on April 20.
Visit the relaunched www.gnarcore.com for more information.
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