Meet our Tour Guides
The eco-tourism based company ‘Explore Pelee’ was established by Anne Marie Fortner 9 years ago 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 on Pelee Island seasonally 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!
Astri has been a nature nut for as long as she can remember. In fact, as a child she formed a club called “Bee Patrol,” whose primary goal was to educate her classmates on the role bees play in the pollination process and why killing them indiscriminately is wrong. When Astri began studying at Wilfrid Laurier University, she had intended to major in business or political science, however, she didn’t enjoy those classes as much as those in the environmental sciences. She switched her focus and also took a summer job as a tree planter, which she continued for 5 summers, planting forests in Northern Ontario, B.C. and Alberta. Astri later began her Master of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan, travelling to Sweden for the summer of 2013 to study the adaptive capacity of Swedish reindeer herding communities. Having relocated to Essex County in 2015, Astri felt unfulfilled by the employment opportunities she found in the city, and jumped at the chance to have a new adventure on Pelee Island. Having never been to Pelee, she loaded up her car and moved for the summer. She loved it so much that she decided to return. The summer of 2017 will be her third season and she is more excited than ever! Sharing knowledge about the natural and human history of the island has been a blast, and it helps that she loves the sound of her own voice.
David Nelson is a bonafide world traveler. He has traveled to 65 countries and every continent except Antarctica (he says he gets close enough to it during the Canadian winters!). A lover of the world and nature, he was called the treehugger of the family growing up. He is currently studying Linguistics and Archaeology at York University and jokes that he is going to become a tomb raider one day.
An amateur performer and author, David loves to bring stories to life in captivating ways. David loves Pelee Island for its biodiversity and archaeological history and is excited to narrate the history, present and future to anyone willing to listen!
Brenda immigrated to Canada from The Netherlands in 2001 and lived in 6 different countries since. After receiving her Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management from the University of Guelph she became an English teacher and used nearly every weekend to explore the country she was a resident of. She has climbed volcanoes, hitch hiked with policemen, ate termites, and much more. At the end of 2016 she moved back to her parent’s sheep farm in Southwestern Ontario in hopes of finding a career in the environmental field. Other than travelling and exploring Brenda loves cycling, playing piano, and baking. She really enjoys meeting people and learning new things and is happy to give tours in English, Dutch, or Spanish. Brenda hopes that her enthusiasm for all things nature will motivate environmental conservation.
Sarah was born in Ajax, Ontario and moved to Peterborough to gain a Bachelor of Science, Honours in biology. She was always exploring as a child, so much so that her first word wasn’t “mom” or “dad” … instead it was “stuck.” This young and adventurous spirit is still a part of Sarah today and has taken her on adventures throughout the world. During 2015 Sarah spent a month traveling throughout the Galapagos Islands, learning about their successful conservation efforts and meeting their endemic species (unfortunately she arrived a few years too late to meet Lonesome George)! During her most recent adventure Sarah moved to the Caribbean island of Nevis, where she worked as a divemaster. She has led underwater tours through coral reefs, sunken ships, and shown guests the best place to find hawksbill turtles up close. Sarah’s main goal is to never miss a new opportunity, and in her free time hikes, skis, and paints.
Hayley was born across the lake from Pelee Island, in Leamington, Ontario. She has always been drawn to the outdoors which inspired her to attend Lakehead University, known for its quick access to wilderness. She obtained degrees in Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, as well as Education, and holds an Ontario College of Teachers Certificate. While in university she took part in multiple outdoor trips including a dog sled expedition with Outward Bound.
After graduation she travelled to South Korea and taught English for two years. Most weekends were spent travelling to new cities and hiking mountains nearby or going on longer breaks to South East Asia. Hayley then chose to check out the emus and kangaroos in Australia while working as a casual relief teacher for a year. Upon returning to Canada she accepted a position, at a manufacturing workshop, as a travel agent and in-house ESL teacher.
She is eager to get back to the outdoors and hopes to aid others in finding something memorable on their adventures with Explore Pelee.
Ben Bradley is in his final year at Laurentian University in the concurrent education program. Throughout his undergraduate degree, he specialized in theatre and completed a double minor in french and geography. He is well traveled and has visited over 17 different European countries while completing his studies. Ben is excited to be a part of the Explore Pelee team and hopes to meet all sorts of unique travellers in Canada’s southernmost inhabited point. Whether it be hitchhiking along the German autobahn, snowshoeing in Finland, eating fine foods in France or herding sheep in the Transylvanian mountains of Romania, Ben always makes the best of every opportunity he is given without ever looking back. Looking to the future, Ben hopes to find a teaching position in Scotland, then maybe settle down in a traditional classroom, either here on Pelee or in Greater Essex County.
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.