With the thought of England’s long, dark winter already haunting us, we’ve set our sights on the slopes of Canada.

Why Canada?

There are incredible ski resorts all over the world, so why choose Canada? Well there’s the famous Canadian hospitality, plus the place is massive. Be sure to extend your trip either side of the ski season to explore. If you sign up for a working holiday with Smaller Earth you can enjoy Canada in all four seasons. “You can work on the mountains in the winter and surf in Vancouver during the summer,” the company’s global travel adviser Joe Green tells TNT.

Big White in British Columbia is Canada’s largest ski-in, ski-out resort and one of the most popular in the country. It’s not overcrowded though, and has a great village vibe. It’s self-contained with lots of aprés-ski options, and it enjoys 25ft of dry champagne powder every year.

“I love the lifestyle of living on a ski resort,” says Aussie Katy Harris, a Big White employee. “It’s a beautiful place to live, the scenery is spectacular and it’s right outside your window. It is not too cold but the snow is second to none – powdery and fluffy.”

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What jobs are there?

Obviously you can be an instructor at the ski and board school. You can’t beat this job, but you do need qualifications. Big White, for example, requires you to have a Canadian Association ski or snowboard instructor or coaching certificate, or equivalent.

“Successful instructors are not only technically competent but also are personable and outgoing,” adds Katherine Furrer, controller and HR coordinator at Big White. “Instructors who work in the kids centre must love working with children and be able to engage all age groups.”

If you are not certified to be an instructor, other positions include lift operators, housekeeping, service staff, shop staff, receptionists, sales, bartenders and cooks. 

“I worked as a bartender during last year’s season and I loved it,” Kiwi Tom Hunter says. “It was a shame I couldn’t work out on the slopes, but I hit them in my spare time. Plus, working in the bar means you get to be part of the aprés-ski scene, which can get quite lively – not to mention the ski bunnies. I certainly enjoyed that side of things,” he smiles. 

Smaller Earth guarantees you a position for four to six months, although the resort will decide what position you get. You can stay in Canada for a year, though, and the company will help you arrange everything, from accommodation to setting up a bank account and social security number, to sorting your visa. The fee for the year is £695.

You won’t need training for the roles offered by Smaller Earth, but some experience and a good attitude helps. “Most resorts hire people with at least some experience in hospitality or retail,” Green explains. “However, if the candidate is mature, enthusiastic, motivated and level-headed and this comes across in their CV, video intro and application, they should be fine.”

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Instructors start at CA$10.75 (£6.65) per hour for a Level 1 first year and go up to CA$20+ (£13). You will also earn commission on subsequent lessons you book. Other staff can expect to earn around CA$9-12 (£9.50-7.50) per hour. “Returning staff are paid incrementally more based on the number of seasons they’ve been with us,” Furrer says.

On-site, shared accommodation is usually provided as part of your job package.


When should I apply?

Big White has just started recruiting for its winter season. Visit its online job board at bigwhite.com/contact-us/employment-info/ to apply for the available positions. Smaller Earth applications open later this year, but you can register your interest now at smallerearth.com/ww/apply/216/.

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Sorting your visa

• You must have a Working Holiday Visa to work in Canada – you can get one that lasts one or two years.

• You must be aged 19-30 and the application fee is currently CA$150 (£93).

• The Canadian High Commission accepts applications from January and runs until the allocation is filled (typically by May).

You should start the process in October/November so that you can apply in time for the New Year.


Photos: Big White Ski Resort