How Pierre's At Echo Bay Came To Be
A story of love, adventure, and happiness in the Broughton Archipelago
Pierre and Tove’s Journey to Echo Bay
As told by Pierre Landry
In 1977 I met my amazing wife-to-be, Tove, in Montreal. Working in the film industry, I had just completed a series of “Coca Cola” commercials filmed on the ski hills in the Laurentians. Some of my film friends suggested skipping off to the Florida Keys to thaw out for a few months. This we did.
Tove had personal business to take care of in B.C., so upon our return to Montreal, we took our very last nickel and dime and made a train trek across Canada. Being madly in love, I followed her there. Our pockets jingling on empty, we existed on a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread from Montreal to Vancouver. Being young and adventurous, we really didn’t have any solid plans of what the future would hold or where we would end up. It didn’t matter because we were together.
The film industry was not big in B.C. at that time, so the job prospects in that business were minimal. However, I did have in mind to further my education in “Special Effects” in Hollywood or New York at some point. In the meantime, we saw an ad on the Nanaimo Unemployment wall asking for “a caretaker of a hunting and fishing resort in Echo Bay on Gilford Island – where there are no roads and accessible only by boat or plane.” The ad was placed by Don and Tonnie Hackwood who were managers of the resort, then owned by Ray Rossback of Pt. McNeill. We got the job. I was all of 25 years old. Talk about a mind boggling experience and a crash course in wilderness living! From city slicker to the boondocks. The store and post office were on a log float in the water. There was only one dock and it was suitable for tying up small skiffs. Mail came in by plane 3 times a week; freight came in by boat and needed to be unloaded, sometimes at 2:00 am. We lived and worked in Echo Bay for approximately 6 months.
Next, we were offered a job caretaking a logging camp in Drury Inlet, which we accepted on condition that they would tow our newly acquired shacks. We hoped to turn them into home sweet home during our stint there. They were such ugly run down shacks, it prompted me to remark, “Look at that! Can you believe anyone would live in there? I wouldn’t even put my dog in there!” But how else do you get a start in the wilderness? Billy Proctor gave me an Alaska saw mill (an attachment for a chain saw to make lumber). “You might need this,” he surmised. To begin with, we strategically placed all our pots to catch the rain that leaked relentlessly throughout the shack, including over our mattress. Our floor boards were so rotten that our alfalfa seeds sprouted on the floor.
Meanwhile, I figured out how to use the Alaska saw mill and cut enough lumber to give our shacks a marvelous face lift. After 2 years of watching camp, we changed scenery and located to Jennis Bay for a few months. We became great friends with Jerry Major, (one of two occupants in Jennis), an irrepressible character, budding author and gold miner. We slowly made our way back to Echo Bay, but not before a stay in Claydon Bay, and then as care takers for a winter, of Sullivan Bay (owned by Lynne Whitehead). Sullivan in the off season, was a pokey little place with modest cabins, but was quite a major refueling station for planes and that was most of our “work”. Without going into details, most fascinating was the “Aquarium”, an ‘out house’ perched over the water.
Our son Darshan was becoming of school age. We felt the need to be closer to people and the one room school in Echo Bay. Once again, our little float home was towed by tug down the inlets. Most surreal is carrying on with your daily living, cooking, cleaning, whatever, as woodsmoke seeps lazily up the chimney whilst your scenery out “the front window” changes… Kind of like boating, I guess. We tied up in a bay which we named, “Pierre’s Bay” (two miles north of Echo Bay). You could do that in those days, move in, name a place. ‘Newcomers’ knew to ‘ask permission’ to tie up in “your” bay. As it turned out, the previous school boat operator in Echo Bay was retiring. I saw that as my opportunity! Perhaps I could be “the school boat operator” – but all I had was a 12 foot Zodiac Rubber Raft. I went to talk to the manager of the Scott Cove logging camp, a “family” camp. There were whole families living there with kids needing to get to school. “If I get a boat,” I asked the manager, “can you guarantee me that ALL the kids will be taking my boat to go to school?”
At that time, the school board was giving $ to the parents individually to take their own kids to school. Some parents were after the logging company to purchase a boat to bring the kids to school so the company was delighted to support me! I picked up the kids in the inlets and bays for 2 years and we had many adventures together, including whales spy hopping right smack in front of the boat en route to school! The income was insufficient, however, to raise our family. I approached the logging manager again and asked if he might have some work for me. He said, “I have a few projects in camp. Can you go and build a set of stairs on this building?” “Sure,” I replied. I continued to work there and became their “camp handyman” for 15 years and built all sorts of structures, including setting up logging camps for them elsewhere in the area.
In 1997, I was diagnosed with MS and went on “Disability” for 2 years. Meanwhile, the MS was under control – AND the company that I was working for, downsized. My job in camp was terminated. They gave me the option to go “work in the bush”, (which held no interest for me) or a “buy out” for a whopping $5,000. I took the $5,000 and got a loan from “Community Future” and started building Pierre’s Bay Lodge Marina. Our first season was year 2000. We made our reputation as a marina in “Pierre’s Bay”, and it was a quaint little place, harboring many dear memories. Our ability to expand, however, was very limited and we wanted to stay viable as a marina for the long run. To begin with, we had one of the biggest boats in the area – our 27′ Edward Monk Design school boat! Boats were getting bigger; there were requests for more and more amenities. In 2007, Echo Bay Resort, now owned by Bob & Nancy Richter, came up for sale. Our good friend invited us to partner with him and purchase it. Oh my, here’s our chance to come full circle back to our roots in Echo Bay and lay further foundation for a sustainable marina! Alas, there was too much quagmire. No deal! In 2008, Jerome and Lucy Rose announced that they purchased Echo Bay and asked if we would like to be partners. We rebuilt and operated the new marina with the Roses for 4 years. In 2012, Pierre & Tove Landry became sole owner/operators.
Welcome to Pierre’s Echo Bay Lodge and Marina, one and all, big or small!