A Note From Charles February 2014
Every January, we close the Inn for a few weeks to make improvements, conduct preventative maintenance and ensure everything is the best it can be around the property. When we re-open our doors, it’s just in time for one of our favourite times of year. February is storm season here on Vancouver Island’s west coast, when every day is filled with dramatic beauty. It’s also the season of romance, with Valentine’s Day bringing guests to the Inn to celebrate engagements, weddings, anniversaries or just a quiet getaway with the one they love best.
Many love stories have been written here, including the one my parents shared. My dad, Howard McDiarmid, arrived in Tofino back in January 1955, to become the sole doctor in what was then a small, remote community accessible only by floatplane or the good ship the Princess Maquinna. He’d planned to work here for just six months, but fell in love with the place and its people, and ended up staying the rest of his life.
He did have another love interest, though, a nurse named Lynn Honeyman, whom he’d met at medical school back in Edmonton. Only problem was, he was stranded on the edge of Canada’s West Coast, while she was working a million miles away in sunny Bermuda.
But distance, as they say, makes the heart grow fonder, and once Howard had set his sights on Lynn, there was no stopping him. He wrote her to say that a friend would be coming to visit Bermuda, and would she mind showing him around? Of course, she replied, never suspecting that it would be Howard himself getting off the plane. A few days later, sitting on a hill overlooking Hamilton Harbour, he said to her, “Let me take you away from all this.” Not long after that, on June 24, 1955, they were married.
“All this” must have looked very appealing a few weeks later when the newlyweds arrived in Ucluelet by de Havilland Beaver. It was chilly, overcast and raining and the float where the plane landed was partially under water, as the bride discovered when she disembarked in her summery dress and high heels. As Dad often joked, “If the plane had not turned and left so quickly, I think she might have gone with it!”
Of course, she didn’t. She joined my dad working at the hospital in Tofino. They lived always in view of the ocean. They built a family of three sons, a daughter who died tragically young, several dogs and countless loyal friends. And year after year they would picnic at a spot on Shell Beach, where they would dream about building a house and opening a hotel on nearby Chesterman Beach. It took more than 20 years, but eventually they did buy the property and build their dream cabin. It took another 20 years before the Wickaninnish Inn opened on Chesterman Beach.
The Inn was, in every way, a labour of love. And so it seems only fitting that it has become such a romantic destination for so very many people. We sincerely hope you’ll come and share your love story with us, too.
Managing Director Charles McDiarmid