Transport Canada's mission statement: We're not happy until you're not happy
I worked for them last season and here's what I have to say about them. Out of the 6 float companies I've worked for, they're not the worst nor the best. But they're closer to being the worst rather than the best.
Whatever you do don't accept the "cub pilot job" the chick who did that job didn't get a single hour in a month, and quit after that. The guy who replaced her got like 7hrs of dual in 3 months and eventually quit too.
-nice staff accommodations, no commute, right on the docks.
-the areas surrounding armstrong ON is gorgeous, the most beautiful part of northern Ontario I've seen so far.
-very big on putting safety first. Unless it's a busy day, then safety becomes second or sometimes third, but always in the top three of the priority list. And imo that's a good thing because when you pay as much money as I do on life insurance you better make it worth it.
-one day off a week. You may have to make a scene in front of the customer for it to actually be given to you every time.
-the senior beaver guy who's been coming back for many years is cool. The owner's son who works there is fun too. The cp is pretty good too. And since these guys constitue the majority of the staff, it's safe to say that the staff is alright.
-it's the perfect gig if you're thinking of doing one last float season and then getting your mifr and burying the memory of your season deep down until it comes back up in therapy 20 years later.
-the plane has a nice paint scheme. Makes good pictures.
Now the cons
- you're in armstrong station, aka armpit. Not much to do there. There's a general store that sells everything from nuts and bolts to tomatoes and steaks, but I wouldn't rely on it. So it's a 3hrs drive each way to Thunder Bay for groceries. There are very few chicks around which kinda gets old after a while. It'd be ideal to have dirt bike there though just saying.
-the owner is a bit of a grump. If you anger him enough it actually gets entertaining though so maybe this one could go in the pros list.
-it's a small place so people talk about each other. Meaning rumors will go around. The owner loves to talk shit too. My two cents: make up weird crazy stories about yourself, give away rumour material real or not. They'll talk about it and miss the stuff thaf you don't want people to talk about.
-doesn't matter how good you do, they'll see what you do wrong and nothing else. But it's not all that bad, because once you accept that, you don't feel the same pressure to do good and you start to relax.
-lots of bitch work. When you're not flying you'll be asked to rake leaves at the base and in the boss's yard, cut grass (and god knows there is a shit ton to cut), do random stuff. That usually makes the days pretty long. On Friday Saturday and Sunday you'll fly americans to camps, and on the weekdays you'll do the bullshit work with the exception of one day a week where you fly to camps and do camp checks. The ad says they're a busy ops; not in my standards. I did 265 hours in 4 months, which sounds quite low average to me. Feels long though, when you only fly the weekends.
-the amo is 200NM away, meaning when things go wrong on the plane you're 6hrs round trip away from getting it fixed. Let that sink in (not talking about the plane).
So yeah what else can I say. It's not a sweet gig, people don't come back to that job. It doesn't mean it's not worth it for a season. I wanted a job that would take me far away from a few people, and pay me enough that I could save for my multi ifr and that job was perfect for that. I also had an extra good reason to stay but I'm not going to talk about here. The season is supposed to last from first week of may to mid of October but odds are you'll be able to leave around second week of September. It's easy to save money because outside of gas and food you don't have much for expenses. The tips suck though (at least in my standards).
The owner makes the environment toxic, if he ever retires, it'd probably turn into a nice gig. Over the course of the last season both "cub pilots" quit, and I can't blame them for it. The dockhand who had been coming for 15 years also quit without notice, he just had had enough of it. I was about to quit too, but I couldn't justify it, I had signed for a season and they honoured their side of the contract so I had to do mine, but I did ask to be laid off early and thankfully they laid me off early September.
The cabin in which the pilots stay has electric fridge, tv (I think it has cable but can't guarantee I never used it), running hot water (it's supposedly safe to drink, I never drank it I think there must be lead in there, just a feeling though), and propane stove and oven. There's no internet in the cabin but you can catch the office WiFi if you walk out 30 ft.
The guests are kinda like every other place, lots of people coming back so they're usually not too clueless of how to use the camps. They don't tip well.
The flying is 85% Mattice lake Outfitters stuff, and then you get charters from the operators down the lake. That includes canoes which is a lot of fun.
The work outside of flying; you'll try to keep busy. The owner seems to want to make his staff work long days even when there's not much to do. The trick is to work slow. Cut that grass on half throttle, bag the ice one ice cube at a time, wax your plane twice a week until it literally causes temporary blindness to whoever looks at it on a sunny day, when you wash the bosses truck don't use à vacuum cleaner just pick the dirt by hand, when you rake his lawn make sure you keep making trips to dump the leaves. It's a matter of showing that you're constantly working, not a matter of doing a good efficient job.
I think I've said all I had to say here. I know I'm going to piss off the cp and the owner with this post. Honestly guys no heart feelings, if you look at the bright side, the people applying now will know what to expect and won't be whiny bitches when they find out what the job is like at the start of the season.