A good tour guide should be equal parts personality, smarts, authenticity, and savvy. And it helps if he or she can get you to see things you would otherwise miss, and try things you probably wouldn’t. Lucky for tourists and locals alike, St. John’s Culture Tours owner-operator Logan Wood has all of these qualities in spades.
Combining her passions for people, sharing stories, planning, the outdoors, and St. John’s in the summer, Logan Wood came up with something truly unique: a small tourism company focused on the cool, delicious, and fun things that are possible in this city.
A tourist by habit, Logan has been an eclectic explorer all her life. She left home at 16 to attend a United World College in India for two years, got a visual arts diploma, worked as an art gallery guide, taught a bunch of art workshops, was a snowboarding instructor for a while, and tried on various hats (academic and occupational). Now, she’s turning her discoveries over to similarly curious customers, eager to get to the heart of downtown.
“St. John’s has a lot of great stuff happening,”says Wood.“I want to be part of it. I want to promote the businesses and experiences that I see as high-quality and worthwhile.”
For Logan, the best of St. John’s can be found in its food and drink. She’s currently running a weekly Downtown Foodie Tour —six deliciously unique dishes at six culturally significant locations —and the Locally Brewed Tour—featuring nine or ten local craft beers at five local pubs.
“I’ve designed the sort of experiences I would like to have in a city … as either a tourist or a local,”says Wood. Along with the food and drink, the relaxed walking tours traverse Duckworth Street and Water Street, highlighting both historic and contemporary developments.
“It feels right to me that people learning about the importance of cod to this island should also have the opportunity to taste it,”says Wood. “Or that Newfoundland’s substantial —but little known— independent brewing past can be used to reveal larger historic moments in combination with guided craft beer tastings at local well-loved pubs.”
I got to go along on the Downtown Foodie tour, and though the locations will be familiar to most downtown residents, the dishes are surprising. Even as a fan of obscure St. John’s eats, of the six-and-a-half dishes served up on the tour, only one was familiar to me. If you asked me last week where to sample sandwiches featuring bison sausage or house-made ricotta and wildflower honey, I’d have been stumped.
The tour business is still new, but Logan is taking to the tough business with high spirits. “Working in tourism is tricky,”says Wood. “Luckily, there is inspiration to be found in other local people who are doing it right,”citing Living Planet, artist Jud Haynes, Fixed Coffee & Baking, and Newfoundland Chocolate Company as influences.
“I have lots to live up to and lots to learn from. Partnerships are key in this line of work and I’ve been really lucky to make some great connections early on and I plan to sustain them through old-fashioned hard work and consistency.”
St. John’s Culture Tours are open for the 2014 season from July 2 – September 28, including the Downtown Foodie Tour, Locally Brewed Tour, and customized private tours. For more information check out www.stjculturetours.com