As a kid, we were always going on adventures as a family. There were the simpler ones, like fishing in the streams near my first house in Sackville, to more epic ones, like when our family of seven piled into our station wagon and ventured across Canada and the US for nearly two months in 1986. I think this is where it all began for me.

During our travels that summer, we camped all across the country, stopping at many national parks along the way. I can still remem-ber hiking down into the Grand Canyon with my two brothers. We carried on across the deserts and all the way home back to New Brunswick, with the spirit of adventure deeply rooted in my bones.

John McNair adventure family


I opened the doors (well, the garage door) to Backdoor Bikes, a 300 sq. ft garage in Sussex Corner, where I did bike repairs (with the help of my friends at The Radical Edge, who helped me find parts) and sold some accessories. During that summer, I also worked as a cycling guide with Peter Williams who owned the Broadway Cafe and Eastwind Cycling Tours, where we gave guided tours of the local Sussex region to cruise shiptravellers from the port in Saint John. In September 2004 Mary and I got married. I returned to Poley Mountain for the ‘04/’05 ski season.

In 2005, I resumed my bike repair “side hustle” in the garage until July, when I received yet another call from a friend; Mark Fisher, asking if I’d like to join them as the Mountain Bike Course Man-ager with 24 Hours of Adrenaline for three events across North America. I spent nearly a month liv-ing in Whistler, preparing the mountain bike course for the 24 Hours of Adrenaline World Champion-ship event. We then headed to California for three weeks for another event, then to our final stop in Conyers, Georgia, the site of the 1996 Olympics, where mountain biking was first introduced as an Olympic sport. Yet another one of those “once in a lifetime” experi-ences.

After returning home to Sussex and expecting to return to Poley Mountain for the winter, there was a shift of management and I no longer had a position. The void in the local market still pres-ent, some of the ski industry reps that knew me and my experience began calling to ask if I might be interested in trying to sell some of their skis. This seemed like a natural next step, so I set out to find a retail space suitable for selling ski gear. Option of putting a caption here… Mary and I soon found a small space available at 69 Broad Street and we went to work getting things ready for the pre-Christmas rush. Outdoor Elements Inc. was officially incorporated on November 5, 2005. Our first big ski brand was Head Skis and has remained our #1 brand ever since. Greg Woodill was the brand rep at the time and he had a few accessory brands that we decided were a good fit for the store. In no time, we had filled our quaint little 300 sq. ft. shop.

In September 2007, our first child Hannah was born. That winter, we opened a small retail bou-tique at Poley Mountain and that following spring, we moved our small Broad street location one door down to help us accommodate the grow-ing business and inventory. In February 2010 our family grew by one more with the arrival of our son William.

The store continued to grow and we had gained the reputation as the go-to ski shop in Southern NB. Fast forward to September 4th, 2012. We were busy helping Hannah get ready for her first day of kindergarten the next day when the phone rang, “There are flames coming out of the back of the store!”. A fire had engulfed Outdoor Elements and other surrounding businesses. The shop was gone within hours. In June 2014 a building on Main Street became available and my gut told me it was time to start the process of rebuilding my business. In July, we purchased the building and the work began to transform the new space into Outdoor Elements 2.0!

In 2017, Fundy National Park put out a Request for Proposals for an Adventure Outfitter, we saw this as an amazing opportunity to expand our business. We submitted our proposal and were awarded the contract. We opened a retail store in downtown Alma and set up rental locations for boat rentals and mountain bikes that summer and fat bikes and snowshoes in the winter. This move aligned perfectly with our mission to get people outside and exploring the great outdoors.

John McNair adventure family
2019 saw us shift focus to more online retail, where we set up an online store and gear rent-al system and continued to refine the business. 2020 was a year filled with uncertainty that no one could have predicted – a global pandemic. Once again, the business thrived in a very un-certain time as more and more people sought out ways to get outdoors. We adjusted the business as needed, we actually doubled our staff that year as demand for outdoor equipment soared to all time highs. Today we continue to refine the business and are looking forward to continued growth in the adventure tourism sector with equipment rentals, tours and experiences!