Life’s better here!

May 29, 2015 10:07 am Published by 1 Comment

Hi! My name is Jeremy Woo, and I’m a human resources student at Tolko’s corporate office in Vernon, British Columbia.


I’m not exactly who you might envision as someone who landed an awesome job in the forest products industry. I’m a 20-year old business student at the University of Calgary, in the heart of oil country. I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly outdoorsy, and my affinity for restaurants is a lot stronger than my affection for nature. Insects have the striking ability to turn me into a quivering mess, and embarrassingly, I’ve never owned a pair of hiking boots.

Nevertheless, I’m entering my third summer with Tolko in Vernon, and I’ve found that without question, #lifesbetterhere. As a fast-growing company, Tolko has provided me with unprecedented career growth opportunities that have built my skills as a future businessperson and enhanced my job prospects.

At the same time, Tolko has afforded me the rare opportunity to live in a place that I love. Despite its size, the small city of Vernon packs quite a punch, along with other forestry powerhouses across Canada. For me, this isn’t just a summer job – it’s a lifestyle that says #lifesbetterhere. I think that you might feel the same way too, once you experience the lifestyle – no matter if you’re a city slicker or one with nature.

Commute Times

Even if you love the city, no one likes commuting. In Calgary, I live within city limits. My commute to the University of Calgary is typically about 40 minutes each way. However, when put into perspective, that’s about 13.5 days a year in driving alone. That’s time missed out on family, friends, and rather importantly, sleep!
In smaller centres like Vernon, rush hour is minimal to non-existent. My commute is now a short four minutes from my driveway to Tolko’s corporate office in downtown Vernon. This frees up over an hour each day to spend on my own terms, instead of lined up on a crowded street, crawling at a snail’s pace. On an annual basis, I literally add 12 days to my leisure time to do whatever I want to do.

I can actually make a dinner date at 5:15pm or sleep until 7:30am before work at 8:00am. Best of all, my short commute is not an anomaly. Most homes in Vernon are within 10 minutes of Tolko’s office by car, and many are within a short walking distance. Life really is better here.

Downtown Vernon

Just because Vernon is small doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to do. I love Vernon’s Main Street, lined with cafes with tables flooding onto the stone sidewalks, framed by picturesque trees that generously shelter patrons from the invitingly warm Okanagan sun. There’s always something new to try, whether it’s a Friday night festival complete with talented buskers and sweet-smelling aromas emanating from street vendors, or a new restaurant with internationally-inspired cuisine. Independent shops, second-hand bookstores, and long-standing gift shops complete this idyllic shopping district.

Best (or worst) of all, Tolko’s Vernon Office is located along this culinary paradise, and directly contributed to my burgeoning waistline during my first “lunch-meeting” filled summer with Tolko. It’s not hard to enter an eating frenzy with such a wide variety of food establishments. #lifesbetterhere when I have year-round access to entertainment and fun. Just watch your caloric intake – I speak from experience.

The Beach

Each year, tens of thousands of tourists from around the world flock to Vernon to indulge in the “Okanagan life-“ a term often used to describe a laid-back lifestyle of sun and sand. Greater Vernon is endowed with two warm and incredibly clean lakes – the larger Okanagan Lake, and smaller (and warmer) Kalamalka Lake. Along these two lakes are countless beaches that are yours to discover.

It’s also the launching point for activities on the water, like boating, fishing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, canoeing, and tubing. I still have to try stand-up paddle boarding, available for rentals on Kalamalka Beach.

Plenty of my own childhood memories take place at Kin Beach, on expansive Okanagan Lake. Happy flashbacks of spinning on the merry-go-round with my sister and skipping stones with my mom come to mind when I think of the beach. One of my first dates was at Kin Beach! (It went well – I’m still with her!)
Admittedly, I’m not one to sit on the beach, but I’m always open to a drive along the shoreline or a walk along the water or the pier. It’s breathtaking, relaxing, and incredibly romantic.
You could be living the life in paradise that most can only experience on holiday. The beach makes it clear that #lifesbetterhere.

Trails, Hiking, and Biking

While some (like me) would much rather sit in a café and admire the staggering Okanagan landscape with an iced beverage in hand, others tackle the great outdoors head-on. Renowned for its stunning vistas and natural beauty, many citizens enjoy Vernon’s extensive trail network.

For example, some love Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, filled with meandering pathways hundreds of feet above Kalamalka Lake that are bound to produce awestruck reactions. Others love the wildly varying landscapes and rich history along the Grey Canal Trail that surrounds Vernon along an old irrigation network. For the more adventurous, Silver Star resort and Silver Star provincial park offer paths and challenging mountain biking.

For a video on this blog, I went to McKergow Meadow Park – nestled above Kalamalka Lake, but a world away from the hustle of the city. The video happened to include some conveniently placed bird melodies, cricket-tweets, and other sounds compliments of the fauna. I assure you that this is 100% natural sound, and not canned effects! The serenity, peace, and quiet out in Vernon is just another reason why #lifesbetterhere.

If even I can enjoy being outdoors, then there must be something awesome about life in Vernon.


No matter if you’re at work or at play, #lifesbetterhere. Whether you decide to make a move to the forest products industry to advance your career or live the lifestyle that you want, you and your family can reap all of the rewards that forestry, its towns, and lifestyles have to offer.

If I can find a great career where I love where I live, so can you. Remember to visit to see how you too can say every day that #lifesbetterhere.

1 Comment

  • Leonard Gebhart says:

    I love your blog Jeremy. Lots of success this year at Vernon office. At present i am working a relief position at the The Pas Papermill (TMKP).
    Recently, I retired from the papermill and moved to Osoyoos.
    Again, best wishes for your future.

Leave your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *