Patrick Tolchard

Patrick Tolchard, 29


Life Story: Patrick Tolchard went back to school to help finance his business. A year after graduating from Medicine Hat College with a bachelor of science in ecotourism and outdoor leadership in 2013, Tolchard, who grew up in Pitt Meadows, moved to Radium Hot Springs. His boyfriend had bought the town’s only pub, Horsethief Creek Pub and Eatery, and Tolchard worked in sales and marketing for a whitewater rafting company and then for Fairmont Hot Springs Resort as a special events coordinator.

When a former classmate, Krista Berg, visited the area to ski in 2014, the two began talking about opening a zipline park. They leased a derelict theme park and converted it to an ecotourism adventure and education destination. To qualify for grants through the JMH&Co Start Up Company Pitch Competition, Tolchard re-enrolled at Medicine Hat College and obtained a diploma in entrepreneurship. In May 2017, he won $10,000 in the competition, plus a year of accounting services and the company’s first tax return from Johnston Morrison Hunter & Co., the accounting firm that sponsors the competition. They also received funding from Futurpreneur and from private investors. The park opened to the public on July 21.

The Bottom Line: Recognized as Rising Star Business of the Year by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce in October, Valley Zipline did $100,000 in tour sales in five weeks of operation, with 2018 sales projections of $343,000. It expects to add three to five members to the 18 full-time staff.

What’s the best advice you ever received?
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

My favourite book, album, song, movie or TV show is…
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. My other favourite book is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It’s another science book, which is all about hela cells and genetic testing.

Who is your role model or mentor?
My sister. She’s always been my role model and mentor from a young age because she left home after graduation and has travelled the world ever since. She’s definitely been a support system in all my endeavours.

What’s your biggest regret?
One thing growing up was caring more about what others think versus being myself. I founded a nonprofit organization when I was in school. That was a really big turning point for me growing up, teaching me to be me and work hard and make yourself proud. Don’t worry about what others think.

A little-known fact about me is…
I founded and was president of the Medicine Hat Pride Association. I started that in 2012. It’s a nonprofit that’s still operating today. It brings support and equality to Medicine Hat through events, support groups and education programs.