I grew up in quiet Northern Ontario surrounded by lakes and with a lot of space to play in the forest. I loved being in the water as much as I could. My first sauna took place in my parents’ friends’ basement when I was a young child. To me, it was as exciting as movie nights and sleepovers! In my early teens my mother remarried a Finnish man who built a traditional sauna where I would spend my summer and winter holidays. We cut holes through the ice to dip into the frozen lake, made steaming snow angels, and enjoyed leisurely swims in the summer after our family sauna. (Sauna can be enjoyed and is beneficial year-round.)
I had a dream and vision to open a public bathhouse in 1999 in Kjipuktuk (Halifax). I was 19 and struggling with a compromised immune system and a depression that kept me isolated. I longed for a safe, healthy place to socialize and meet people in the evenings that didn’t centre around consumption. I dreamt of a place where I could be myself, relax, hang with my friends, but also meet new people.
My recovery included the sauna and steam room at the YMCA, which sparked a vision for a public bathhouse that would span about two decades. In the first decade I finished an undergrad in Management, specializing in Entrepreneurship. I started and ran a wellness society for 3 years, started my first small business, that won an award under the YES program, and worked as an educator and coordinator.
At the beginning of the second decade, in 2009, I leapt into my first sweat/thermal bathing pilgrimage in South Korea and Japan, visiting and studying jimjilbangs and sentos for 3 weeks. I was seriously hooked. I loved it so much I decided to live in South Korea for a year to deepen my understanding further. I joined the Korean Spa Association as the first international representative, and connected with the Jimjilbang Association. I attended the International Sauna Congress in Tokyo in 2010, where I met other enthusiasts and new friends in the field. This is when I first learned about skinship—a Japanese bathing term. Once you have bathed with someone in public or behind closed doors, you have skinship with that person. The term originates from parents and children bathing together, and has extended into the communal bathing culture in the sento (bathhouse) and onsen (mineral thermal spa). I loved this concept of community and relationship building, and had to explore it further.
The subsequent years were spent learning everything I could. I received funding and support to intern in Germany at Toskana Therme, with CEO Marion Schneider and learning about Liquid Sound with Micky Remann. I consulted on improving the international guest experience and prepared my first spa concept development at Schloss Heinsheim in Bad Rappenau. I learned about Aufguss (essential oil infusions and towel rituals) and had the opportunity to offer it. I wanted to continue learning, so I worked at the Nordic Spa as a “sauna meister” guiding rituals. During that time I trained in relaxation massage, offering mobile massages.
I received a full scholarship for a Master’s degree in Wellness and Spa Service Design in Estonia in 2012. During that time, I learned about traditional smoke sauna and spa therapies. My research studies focused on community wellness and retreat design. In Lithuania I did a beginner level training in whisking with Rimas Kavaliauskas, and attended the International Sauna Congress again to present on sweat bathing terminology and meaning. I initiated a preliminary sauna concept at Barking Bathhouse in East London, UK, in the public library and collaborated with videographer, Katie Bracher to create a short video on London’s bathhouse culture. In 2014 | received the International Spa Association’s Mary Tabacchi scholarship.
Between 2007 and 2015 | often hosted very casual sauna and steam sessions on the new lunar cycle. These were held in various facilities, mostly gyms and were a way to connect with water and warmth, share some snacks, and catch up with friends. In 2016 I founded Steam Space, which offered mobile wood-fired sauna sessions and rituals, bringing together the training and teachings I received into practice. I consulted and taught at the Dalhousie Architecture School on bathhouse design and traditional spa practices. In 2017, I organized a Steam Culture tour around Scandinavia and the Baltics to train further in sauna spa therapies with Audra Staskevicien and Eda Veeroja and visited more inspiring saunas, bathhouses, and traditional spas. I’m also trained in cupping with the Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy, and in somatic attachment therapy with the Embody Lab.
My mission is to create accessible pathways to well-being through experiential health measures, with a focus on thermal cycling and community-based practices as placemaking tools. Circulate was founded in 2023 for that purpose.
Sauna Design Consultation
Nate Goudreau’s home sauna
Sharing knowledge on cultural bathing practices, places and people
Artist village feasibility review and preliminary concept
Pictou Island Yurts
Consulted on how to optimize their sauna use with a guided experience.
Mackay Lyons Sweet Apple Architects
Concept and guest journey
Dalhousie Architecture School - B5
Heat.Cool.Rest lectures and consultations