Our Tofino Neighbours: Feather George

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Shawna Gardham
By Shawna Gardham, Public & Media Relations Manager
Newsletters12 December 2020

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In a town that gets upwards of three metres of rain a year, some may be surprised to find as many avid cyclists as you’ll see on Tofino’s multi-use path in every season, and perhaps none as consistently as George Yearsley. Rain or shine, George cycles everywhere—even as far out as Kennedy Lake when the feeling strikes! For George a bike ride is more than a way of getting places, it’s a deep meditation. And in the physical movement, the joy of wind (and sometimes cold) on the skin and the smell of the trees, that’s where George finds some of his artistic inspiration.

If you’ve visited Henry Nolla's Carving Shed, you’ll have witnessed where that inspiration goes: George is a resident woodcarver here, and a part of the fabric of the Wickaninnish Inn.

Originally from the lower mainland, George first started carving in grade 12 art class. In later years, he whittled a little with a Swiss Army knife and carved his first few feathers with just that one knife. Eventually, almost on a whim, he purchased a handful of carving tools at an auction. He ended up using every tool when he started carving feathers more seriously (a signature style of carving that has since earned him the name “Feather George”).

He started coming to Tofino to be close to the old growth forest, to “be around more trees than people,” when he met Henry Nolla, a long-time friend of the Inn whose work makes up stunning components of the buildings (and how the Carving Shed came to be). While he didn't apprentice as a carver under Henry, George moved to Tofino to spend time at the Carving Shed with him, and gleaned inspiration of a different kind of life he could live—and would! In the 90s, briefly, and then in 2001 with resolution, George moved to the coast, at a time when he was becoming more committed to carving.

Feather George likes to start each day reflecting with gratitude for the life he leads. Nowadays, when he’s not hiking or kayaking, or on a bike ride, you’ll often find George at the Carving Shed tucked into the woods along Chesterman Beach. While Henry has passed on, the lessons he taught George—about appreciating the simplicity of slowing down, hearing the waves along the shore and being contented to whittle red or yellow cedar by them—continue to bring him gratitude, and this joy exudes to all of our guests who get the pleasure to meet George and watch him at work.

And if he’s not feeling inspired, well, George says tuning into nature with a bike ride or a jump in the ocean helps wake his creative energy. That, or, it should be said: Rush! Yes, a lifelong fan, George has seen the iconic Canadian band no less than 18 times in concert. Sadly, the band’s drummer passed away in January 2020, but George will always have those memories of seeing them live to look back on.

If you’re looking to bring a piece of Tofino home with you, take a look at George’s work by emailing him, also available in our Gift Shop. Alternatively, you’ll have to mix up the cocktail we’ve named after him—at home, but most authentically enjoyed at the On the Rocks Bar next time you’re here!

Feather George Cocktail
Feather George Cocktail at On the Rocks Bar
George Yearsley Carving at the Carving Shed
Feather George in his element

FEATHER GEORGE

Our resident carver who hand planes our cedar curls per batch. Known for his elaborate and detailed feather carvings .

FEATHER GEORGE COCKTAIL RECIPE

1.5 oz. Wiser’s Rye Whisky double infused with Cedar

0.75 oz. Italian Vermouth

0.25 Giffard Abricot de Roussillon

2 dashes Gary Regan’s Orange Bitters

Fidencio Mezcal Rinse

Cedar Smoked Ice

Method: Stir and strain into Fidencio Mezcal rinsed short rocks glass filled with Cedar Smoked Ice Garnish: Long Curl of Cedar and Long Curl of Orange Rind intertwined as you wish

CEDAR RYE WHISKEY RECIPE

  • Fill a large glass jar with fresh cedar curls. Add a teaspoon of salt and fill ¾ with cold water. Shake vigorously and let sit for 5 minutes. Strain and rinse with fresh water. Allow to dry for a few hours. This cleans the cedar and reduces any bitter edge. Add 1 bottle Wiser’s Rye Whiskey.
  • Let sit for 4 days agitating jar often to shift settling cedar.
  • Strain and press Cedar to remove every drop.
  • Repeat Steps 1-3 with the same Rye Whiskey. This process is to intensify flavors and add body.
  • Rebottle and serve.

CEDAR SMOKED ICE

  • Designate equipment specific to this process as they will absorb the cedar smoke smell and taste.
  • Add deep metal pan full of regular ice into a smoker with ¾ cedar and ¼ alderwood burning
  • Smoke until ice melts back to water.
  • Run water through a coffee filter to remove any skim then run water through a water filter such as a Brita.
  • Freeze into ice cube shapes of your choice. The effect will come more from the nose than the taste.

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