East Coast Outfitters (ECO) is a community based outdoor resource centre featuring premier quality guided sea kayak tours, lessons, and equipment rentals. We give visitors a chance to learn about the natural and cultural history of the area while experiencing some of the best sea kayaking anywhere.
ECO is located in the community of Lower Prospect, Nova Scotia, 45 minutes from the Halifax International Airport, and halfway between the city of Halifax and world famous Peggy’s Cove. Lower Prospect is a small fishing village with a population of about 200. Weather still matters in Lower Prospect. Everyone still waves.
We offer one of the most varied outdoor programs in Atlantic Canada, and we are the only outdoor operator driven largely by community economic development. In the wake of a collapsed ground fish industry, coastal communities like ours are faced with a challenge of economic uncertainty. Eco-tourism can provide an alternative resource on which to base the economy of our village. We call it “Codfish to Kayaks”.
East Coast Outfitter provides customers with world class outdoor experiences in a safe & fun fashion that is socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable.
East Coast Outfitters strives to provide employees with a great place to work by offering an environment that is fun, challenging, promotes teamwork and mutual respect.
East Coast Outfitters strives to be a leader in the paddling industry, and to do it in a way that promotes safe, healthy, and sustainable outdoor endeavors, and is a positive influence on the lives of our clients, our employees and the members of our community.
Safety, Integrity, Respect, Skilled staff, Fun, Teamwork, Friendliness and Service.
Lower Prospect is a small fishing village located near Halifax, Nova Scotia. About 200 people live here, in homes built around a protected harbour at the end of a peninsula which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. Weather still matters in Lower Prospect. Everyone waves. When someone needs a new roof, neighbors show up with nail-bags and hammers. The tradition of oral history is still strong; one need only stop for tea to learn about some of the incredible events that have shaped this coastal community. The culture here is profound.
To a visitor, this village seems ideal. But its residents are moving away. Lower Prospect, like thousands of coastal communities, is struggling in the wake of a collapsed ground-fish industry. Its residents are faced with the challenge of shifting their economic base without shifting their location. Cultural and eco-tourism can provide a new cornerstone resource for coastal communities who can no longer depend on fishing for survival.
Community involvement is critical to the business structure of ECO Local residents play a wide range of roles. They are employed as heritage guides, outdoor leaders, office managers, cooks, and maintenance staff. The economic spin-off of the eco-tourism industry also benefits other community members. Local lobster boat operators are employed to provide support and diversity to trips. Local crafters benefit from the increased exposure to the tourism market. Local youth are trained as guides; the Lower Prospect Kids Kayaking Club (an ECO initiative) has been active since 1997, and has given over 40 local young people (ranging in age from 6 to 22) the opportunity to learn to kayak, free of charge. East Coast Outfitters represents an equitable approach to coastal resource management. We provide culturally and ecologically responsible outdoor experiences to a wide range of people, in a manner that they will remember forever.
With a look towards future growth, we have developed a franchise plan. Through this program, ECO, will work to facilitate other community based adventure tourism operations in Atlantic Canada and across the world. If you are interested in opening an ECO franchise in your community, contact us.
ECO is proud to work with many great partners and associations. Here is a list of some of them. Check back often, as this list will grow.
- Old Creel Canoes and Kayaks—Dealers of a complete range of canoes, kayaks, and paddling equipment, including many of the designs used at ECO.
- Level Six—manufactures of some of the best paddling gear on the planet.
- Current Designs—North American manufactures of great sea kayaks featured in the ECO fleet.
Travel and Tourism partners
- Tourism Nova Scotia
- Down East Destination Management
- Atlantic Cruise Ship Services
- Blue Diamond Tours
- Destination Halifax
- E.A.S.T. Shuttle
- Great E.A.R.T.H. Expeditions
Partners and Resources
- Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia
- Paddle Canada
- Leave No Trace Canada
- The Ecology Action Centre
- Prospect Communities
- Werner Paddles
- Seal Skirts
- Shelburne Kayak Festival
Other local paddling suppliers
Other local paddling companies owned and operated by graduates of the ECO guide training program:
- Nova Shores Adventures (Advocate Harbor)
- Pleasant Paddling (Lunenburg)
- Pura Vida Kayaking (Shad Bay)
- Cape LaHave Adventures (LaHave)
ECO Low Impact Guidelines
- Use already existing campsites and trails to minimize new impact.
- Do not harass or disturb wildlife. Always view from a safe distance to avoid placing additional stress on the animals. Avoid nesting or denning areas and never feed the wild animals.
- Whatever you pack in, be prepared to pack out. This includes all left over food, garbage, toilet paper, feminine products, and anything else previous visitors have left behind.
- Do not pollute the waterways with human waste. Always urinate at least 50 meters away from any open water sources. Any solid waste must be packed out as well in either Tupperware containers, groovers, double bagged bags, or specially designed apparatuses.
- Before having any fires, ask yourselves “Is this really needed?” If you do decide to have a fire have it below the high tide line, and burn only driftwood.
- Leave only footprints, take only pictures, and kill nothing but time. Do not take any “souvenirs” from historical sites or natural areas.
- Use sandy or rocky areas as access points when entering an area and avoid scrambling up open soil or wooded areas.
- Do not cut any limbs off of living or dead trees and do not pick flowers or plants.
Dave has been paddling since he was 8. When he was in high school in Washington D.C., he began training with the U.S. National Team in whitewater slalom kayaking. In winter months, he often drove to school with a helmet on, because it was frozen to his head. His racing career peaked at the 1991 world championships in Switzerland, where he placed 4th in the team event. By the time he was 19, he was the Head Instructor at the Madawaska Kanu Centre in Ontario. He has paddled rivers all over North, South & Central America, Europe & Asia. He has acted as a boat designer and consultant to some of the world’s leading kayak and canoe manufactures. Dave is the former Eastern Vice President of Paddle Canada, and is an Instructor Trainer in whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking, and whitewater canoeing. His favourite boat is a dugout canoe that is sitting on a beach somewhere in Panama. At least that’s where he left it.
Dave moved to Lower Prospect, Nova Scotia in 1997 to attend Dalhousie. He had no intention of starting a business. When Dave Adler moved to Lower Prospect (a tiny fishing village with a population of 200), the trailer full of kayaks that he brought with him did not go unnoticed by the kids in the village. Almost immediately, a kayaking club was born. The club grew over the next few summers, and a crew of very skilled paddlers began to emerge.
While the kids’ club grew, the economic situation in the village continued to stagnate. Meanwhile the commercial paddling industry in Halifax was growing, and villagers began to see companies based in Halifax bringing a caravan of cars and trailers into the village to run kayak tours with more and more frequency. Eventually, one of the parents in the village approached Dave with an idea to start a community run kayaking company in Lower Prospect. And so it began…
East Coast Outfitters was incorporated in March, 2001. During that spring, the community of Lower Prospect, along with members of the paddling community, got together and built the boathouse. During that first season, ECO had a fleet of 17 kayaks, a staff of 4, and put just over 600 people on the water. In 2002, ECO was awarded the Best New Business Award by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. Since then, ECO has grown to be one of the largest paddling operations in Eastern Canada. It runs a fleet of 50 boats and a staff of over 40 people including guides. By the end of the 2010 season, ECO will have put a total of 20,000 people on the water. ECO has quickly emerged as a leader in paddling instruction in the east, and an economic and social cornerstone in Lower Prospect.
Dave lives up the hill from ECO in Lower Prospect with his wife, Jillian, and their sons, Noah & Levi. He completed the Executive MBA program at the Sobey’s School of Business at St. Mary’s University in the spring of 2010.