Laura Rasmussen: intrepid ATVer and fishing boat captain

Captain Laura Rasmussen of Nanaimo, B.C., became the first woman to solo ride an ATV in every province across Canada

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A lady riding a Can-Am Maverick side by side in a field beneath blues skies in the Chilcotin.

Laura Rasmussen spent part of her summer exploring the Cariboo Chilcotin region of B.C. on her new Can-Am Maverick 1000. — Geoff Moore photo

In 2013, Laura Rasmussen embarked on a three-month-long trip across Canada. Her plan was simple: to ride her ATV in every province. She started in Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island and went to Newfoundland and back. Although she was travelling solo, Rasmussen was rarely alone.

“I would just email or use Facebook, and everyone was so accommodating and generous with their time,” she said.

On a poker run in Ontario, Rasmussen befriended a member of the Kawartha ATV Association. On her return trip, they reconnected and explored the club’s Somerville Forest trails.

In New Brunswick, she met up with the president of the provincial ATV association. He took her on a guided tour of the area, which included a visit to the Walton Glen Gorge (also known as the Grand Canyon of New Brunswick).

Three ATVs parked at a lighthouse in Nova Scotia.

Laura Rasmussen grew up riding ATVs. Here she is ready to explore the Cape d’Or area in Nova Scotia. — Photo courtesy Laura Rasmussen

The language barrier made ATVing in Quebec a bit of a challenge, but Rasmussen found ways to get around.

“I don’t speak French so in Quebec, you can download an app for their local trail system . . . ,” she said. “And there’s an app for translating the language so I used that a lot too. I would speak into the phone, translate it to French and then go, ‘Here, listen to this.’ ”

Two ATVs parked in a field full of red plants.

Safety is of utmost importance to Rasmussen (she took her helmet off for this photo). — Photo courtesy Laura Rasmussen

The trail systems in Eastern Canada really stood out, but when it comes to her all-time favourite place to ride, B.C. is still No. 1.

“I’m a mountain, ocean and lakes person,” she said. “As far as I’m concerned, we’ve got it all.”

Getting into the side-by-side game

Back home in Nanaimo, Rasmussen is an active member of the Alberni Valley Hill Climbers Quad Club. But recently, she has been spending time in the Cariboo Chilcotin on her new Can-Am Maverick 1000.

“I love that thing,” she said. “Last summer, I took off on a road trip with my truck and camper, towing my side-by-side around B.C. for a month.”

Riding into the Taseko Lake area between Williams Lake and Bella Coola was a highlight of that trip.

“Oh my God, it was the most epic ride I’ve ever been on in my life,” said Rasmussen. “We were one mountain range away from Gold Bridge near Pemberton, and the lake we went to was white because it has a lot of granite silt in it.”

A prawn fishing boat in a harbour near mountains in B.C.

Laura Rasmussen is captain of the Polara, a 42-foot prawn fishing boat that operates off the west coast of B.C. — Photo courtesy Laura Rasmussen

Never one to shy away from adventure, Rasmussen also enjoys hunting, horseback riding, snowmobiling and, of course, fishing. At 57 years old, she just wrapped up her 28th year as a commercial prawn fisherman.

“I’m a third-generation fisherman in B.C. and I have been around it my whole life,” she said.

Whether she’s braving the Pacific Ocean or ATVing in the mountains, Rasmussen carves her own path, living life as an inspiration to anyone who’s ever feared the unknown. 

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