Explore Pelee Guides
The tourism based company ‘Explore Pelee’ has been established by Anne Marie to help make your trip to Pelee hassle free. Local tour guides will show you all the secret magical spots of the island and give historical accounts of life in Canada’s most southern community.
Southwestern Ontario is scattered with quaint, small communities full of culture, history and peaceful country landscapes. Pelee Island’s magical charm has been coined the Canadian Caribbean. Some travel far to vacation, but Canada’s most southern community, Pelee Island, is right in your backyard.
About Anne Marie
Anne Marie Fortner is an avid long distance adventurer, talented environmental educator and outdoor expedition guide. She has travelled extensively exploring the different landscapes and flora and fauna in Canada, South and Central America, Europe, United States & most recently Asia. Her passion for the environment, physical challenges, the love of travel and Pelee Island, led her to establish Explore Pelee, an eco-tourism business on Pelee Island, in the spring of 2008.
Working and exploring in the outdoors has been a common thread throughout Anne Marie’s life. In 1999 Anne Marie backpacked 3400km on the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. This experience inspired her to study Geography at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and proved to be a cornerstone in building her ‘work hard, play hard’ ethic. Her summers in Northern Ontario were spent working as a forest fire fighter, canoe trip guide and hiking trails technician. She ventured to Pelee Island for the first time after graduating in 2003, where she worked for The Wilds of Pelee Island: Outdoor Centre for Conservation. It was during this two-year period that Anne Marie fell in love with Pelee and all that it had to offer an ambitious outdoor spirit, such as herself. In 2006 Anne Marie navigated a 1000km ancient native canoe route from Winnipeg to Lake Superior, in efforts to raise awareness for ALS research. Fortner then moved back to the city where she worked a series of unfullfilling jobs that ultimately led her back to Pelee, where she now lives year round and runs Explore Pelee full time.
Anne Marie’s love, knowledge and energy for the outdoors will inspire you! Come take a tour and see what Explore Pelee is all about!
Heather loves being a tour guide, and it shows! When she’s not leading tours around Pelee, she can be found in Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, or New York, leading high schoolers and Grade 8′s on educational tours. When she’s not at the head of a group, Heather strikes out on her own across the globe: Europe, Indonesia, and the Carribbean being the most recent international destinations on her roster. She looks forward to even more international travel in the future – still four more continents to explore! Heather’s background in tour guiding and her degree in Education make her a natural fit as a guide with Explore Pelee. Heather’s multiple summers working at the Pelee Island Heritage Centre have provided her with the historical background to answer any of your questions about island heritage. She can also point out many of the rare and endangered species unique to Pelee. Want to see a nodding wild onion or the rare hop tree? Just ask!
With Heather as your tour guide you won’t be able to resist her infectious love for Pelee Island – she invites you to come discover this unique island community!
Jilda was born to be a performer and is constantly looking for a stage. From an elaborate opera house to the dramatic landscapes of Pelee Island entertaining is what she was born to do and she wants you to be her audience! Her love for the island began at a young age when she took the short ferry ride with her family for a retreat from mainland life. She fell in love with the small town atmosphere and the deeply rooted history of the island- the old tales appealed to her theatrical side and left her spellbound. The legend of Hulda’s Rock, which can be seen off the north side of the island, will always be a favorite. When Jilda is not entertaining on Pelee Island you can find her on the other side of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio where she is a graduate student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying Opera and Vocal Performance. Her love for travel and the outdoors has blossomed through the natural wonders of the Great Lakes region and she hopes that her music will bring her to broader horizons
Explore Pelee welcomes Matt Clarke, our newest Eco Tour Guide. Matt’s interest in Pelee Island began with his fascination with insects. During his fourth year at Western University, Matt studied the cold-weather physiology of the northernmost termites observed in the wild, which happened to be here on the island and at the southern tip of Point Pelee. Always looking for things crawling on the ground, be sure to ask Matt about what he’s found recently!
Matt has a diverse background in working outdoors, from being a Marine Patroller on the Muskoka Lakes, to monitoring insect populations and tracking pest life cycles in fruit orchards in southern Ontario. He has travelled throughout the US and Europe several times, and after backpacking through Europe last summer, he realized that the natural beauty of Ontario’s wilderness never gets old. With a passion for conservation, biodiversity, rare and endangered species, reptiles, insects, (and more recently, birds), Matt’s excitement will certainly be contagious during his tours.
About Claire – Biologist
Explore Pelee’s Biologist, Claire Sanders, has a career that includes extensive environmental experience in both the applied sector and educational sector. She is currently obtaining her Masters degree in the Mennill Lab at the University of Windsor, where she has had the unique opportunity to use both acoustic and traditional technologies to study migration through southwestern Ontario. For the prior six years, she was the Executive Director of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO), where she was involved extensively with field work, including migration monitoring, breeding bird studies, and species at risk monitoring.
About Michelle – SUP (Stand Up Paddle board) Instructor
Michelle McCormack is an outdoor enthusiast and environmentalist. Michelle was introduced to Pelee Island in 1998 through her father’s Environmental Leadership Program. For the last 13 years her connection with Pelee Island has continued, both on the island and on the mainland. She currently enjoys working at Pelee Wings Nature Store and Kayak Shop in Leamington, Ontario. Michelle has a degree in Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism and a Minor in Indigenous Learning from Lakehead University and is now proud to use her knowledge at Pelee Wings Nature Store and Kayak Shop.
Michelle is a certified as a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board instructor and is excited to be working with Explore Pelee by bringing SUP clinics to Pelee Island. Michelle is looking forward to sharing her enthusiasm about Stand Up Paddleboarding and showing people how fun and easy SUP boarding can be!
About Rob – Birding Guide
Rob Tymstra is a keen birder who roams the planet in search of birds. He’s spotted over 5100 species in 60 countries, but Pelee Island remains one of his favorite birding spots and he wouldn’t dream of missing the spring migration there. Rob has a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Waterloo and is a Fellow of the Explorers Club. He’s seen more species of birds on Pelee Island than anyone and knows all of the secret bird spots. Rob enjoys sharing his knowledge and especially loves to see the thrill new birders get upon finding birds they’ve never spotted before.
About Steven – Astronomy Guide
Steven Pellarin, a physics and high school math teacher for the past 22 years, is a veteran amateur astronomer and telescope maker. He has been providing observing tours and lectures to the public for more than 30 years in the Essex County area. He holds the post of Director of Observing for the Windsor Center of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and is a past president of the organization. He has been recognized locally for outstanding service in promoting and advancing astronomy and also for excellence in telescope design and craftsmanship in a competition at the famous Stellafane Telescope-Makers Convention in 2009. He has appeared in both newspaper and on television and can be heard on the local airwaves promoting astronomical events. Steve has also been a featured speaker at the Manitoulin Star Party and at many local astronomy public lectures.