Grant Thompson Founder and Owner
Tofino Expeditions founder Grant Thompson was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and is the fourth generation of a west coast Canadian marine family. He first went to sea on a Norwegian freighter for a year at the age of 17. Returning from this adventure he attended university where he studied photography. As a climber photographer he spent his 20's and early 30's technical mountaineering until a chance meeting in 1981, with John Dowd, author of, "Sea Kayaking: A Manual for Long-Distance Touring" turned his attention back the sea. The expedition potential for sea kayaks on the wild coast of British Columbia and beyond captivated his imagination. Through the mid-eighties he worked in the outdoor sports industry promoting the then "new" sport of sea kayaking and sat on the board of directors of the Trade Association of Sea Kayaking (TASK), which later became the Trade Association of Paddlesports (TAPS). In 1988 driven by a strong desire to be on the water rather than behind a desk he founded Tofino Expeditions Limited in the small town of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island, in 1989 Outside Magazine ranked Tofino as one the "Great Sports Towns of North America because of the outstanding kayaking in the surrounding area. That same year he started operating kayaking in expeditions in Mexico's Sea of Cortez, the first of what was to be many international paddling venues. An association with travel writer Tim Cahill led to articles in Outside, Magazine, Mens Journal and other publications that were later republished in Cahill's books "Jaguars Ripped my Flesh" and "Pass the Butterworms".
As sea kayak outfitting became more popular Grant became involved with guide education. He was a charter member of The Alliance of British Columbia Sea Kayak Guides and the Association of Canadian Sea Kayak Guides. As a head guide instructor/ examiner for both organizations he ran guide training courses on the British Columbia coast and in Baja. He sat on a committee of three senior guides that drafted the first sea kayak guide training curriculum to be officially recognized by Parks Canada. In the spring of 2017 he was hired by the Norwegian Centres of Expertise for Tourism Fjord Norway to consult on sea kayaking trip design, methodology and risk management.
All of Tofino’s trips in Canada are still operated by Tofino Expeditions Limited, the original Canadian company. In 1998 Grant founded Tofino Expeditions USA Inc. when he relocated to the United States while his wife was attending a medical residency program at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Living first in Seattle, Washington and then Salem, Oregon before settling in Bend Oregon. Grant has guided kayaking trips North and South America as well as Europe and Asia. His photographic work has appeared in a number of magazines including Outside, National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, Sea Kayaker and Outpost as well as a large number of newspapers. As well being a kayaker he is an avid surfer and standup paddle boarder.