Weekend Warrior: Snow calls Organic Ocean president Guy Dean and his family to the slopes

A lifelong skier, Organic Ocean president Guy Dean holds reverence for the peaks of B.C.

Guy Dean

Credit: Adam Blasberg

Having skied all over the world, Dean still puts Whistler near the top of his list. And the deeper the powder, the better

There’s a particular rule in Guy Dean’s household that all four members of the family are fond of. “If it snows more than 20 centimetres in Whistler on a weekday, the kids can take school off, and we’ll go ski,” says the president of Organic Ocean Seafood with a chuckle.

Suffice it to say that Dean—who has spent the better part of half a century skiing—has been successful in converting his daughters (aged 10 and 12) to his favourite hobby. The 58-year-old found his passion for the sport growing up in Calgary, where “you either played hockey or skied or did both. And I never learned to skate.”

When Dean was in high school, his family moved to Courtenay, where he became a regular at nearby Mount Washington. He didn’t have quite the same access to snow-covered peaks when, after graduating from UBC with a degree in marine zoology, he moved to Japan to become a commercial diver. “I lived in a subtropical area in Japan—the southernmost main island,” Dean recalls of his time on Kyushu.

Though he did manage to get in some runs on the island of Hokkaido, the time mostly away from the snowcaps only endeared him to the activity. “I wasn’t around snow for seven years. When I came back, I couldn’t believe how much I missed it,” he remembers. “That’s when I got a real passion for it. Not doing something for that long, and not realizing how much you loved it, was a real eye-opener for me.”

Now living in New Westminster, Dean holds reverence for the peaks of B.C.: “I’ve skied all through the States, and a little bit in Europe. I still feel that Whistler is one of the best mountains in the world.”

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As for his ideal skiing conditions—the deeper the powder the better, he says. “For me, there’s not a purer feeling than skiing some really deep pow, like when you have to wear snorkel to breathe it in. Up to your chest or higher, it’s a phenomenal experience.”

Dean is “mostly a resort kind of guy,” he says, though he has done backcountry work and taken avalanche courses. These days, time on the slopes is something the whole family can enjoy. His wife is an avid snowboarder, and their children are coming into their own. “For a while, I had to sign a waiver to let my 12-year-old go on to double black diamonds and stuff,” he says. Now she’s out of the Kids Pass program at Whistler.

Dean admits that he used to be something of a gear head, but now that both daughters keep growing out of their own equipment, those days are more or less over. “I had custom skis; I was all over that kind of stuff,” he says. “But since I had kids, it’s been constant replacements of their gear. I hadn’t changed my boots for 20 years and had to change them this year—first ski purchase I’ve made in a long time.”

In any case, there’s more to the experience than feeling the wind in his hair or making the perfect cut through pow. “When I’m driving up, I spend close to two hours in the car with my daughters, and that’s just so great,” Dean says. “I get caught up on how their week has been, talk about what’s happening in their lives, let them take over the music on the radio and hear what kind of music they’re listening to.”

So what’s blasting up and down the Sea to Sky? “Lots of pop,” Dean laughs. “Olivia Rodrigo, AJR, all that.”

Warrior Spotlight

Guy Dean is president and general manager of Richmond-based Organic Ocean Seafood. The company emphasizes a healthy, thriving aquatic environment. “The pandemic was really tough for us,” Dean says of Organic Ocean’s 17 employees. “In March 2020, we lost 75 percent of our business, because our primary business was selling to top chefs around Canada and the world.” In response to the decline in restaurant sales, the company reinvented itself with an online fish market geared toward home delivery. “That has taken on a life of its own—it’s now another arm of our business,” Dean explains. “We’ve been overwhelmed at the support we get by customers across Canada.”