Sleep, eat, welcome guests to the Banff Centre, paddle or curl, and repeat. Depending on the time of year, this is likely Jim Olver’s schedule. Known for being a people person, Jim is the director of customer service at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, where he’s been welcoming artists, leaders, and conference guests to Banff’s campus in the clouds since 1983.
Around the same time, Jim joined the Banff Curling Club, where he has served on the executive committee and as club president for the past four years. During this time as president, he has helped to organize three TSN Skins Curling events by managing more than 150 volunteers and the Learn to Curl Program by instructing 50 inexperienced, yet enthusiast curlers on four sheets of ice once a week.
It was also in the late 80s when Jim first took local paddler Jim Buckingham’s River Canoeing Course. In fact, he took it over and over again because paddling quickly developed into a passion. Now, he’s on the water anywhere from 40 to 70 days a year, introducing land lovers to rivers and rapids and teaching anyone from beginners to intermediates.
Also a geologist and a skier, Jim enjoys exploring the Canadian Rockies and beyond. Joining him in these adventures are his wife Chip and their three kids Jamie, Linda, and Thomas, as well as their ‘puggle’ Lacey. However, he’s always inviting newcomers, visitors, and longtime locals to participate too.
“Jim shines in his ability to make everyone feel informed, welcome, and comfortable,” Banff Curling Club member Olga Lehmann says. “Whether you’re on the curling ice or in a canoe on a river, Jim makes sure you’re going to look like you’ve been curling or canoeing all along. It’s the ‘you can do it’ and the ‘look at you’ phrases he says as he gleams at your accomplishments that make a beginner come back again.”
Fellow curler and paddler Josee Richard describes Jim as being generous of his time and knowledge.
“I don’t know anyone who is more enthusiastic to share any of his passions. He has definitely been an inspiration to me and my best example of a community ambassador,” Richard says. “Jim simply shines in his ability to make others shine.”