WORDS BY LOIS TAYLOR, TRACY SINCLAIR, & JUANITA MACLEAN
PHOTOS BY CARLA DUFFEY
Established in 1895 by Mr. Hosea Arminius Bull, the Heriot Bay Inn sits on the eastern shore of Quadra Island. Its history forms our backbone. The stories nourish our spirit.
Originally built as a lodge-style building, the Inn’s first iteration burnt down in 1910. A Victorian-style Inn replaced it in 1911 but also burnt down within the year. The Inn seen today was constructed in 1912, which Mr. Bull went on to sell in 1926. The 1912 structure remains a central part of the building—the warm cedar panelling, river-rock fireplace, and single-pane windows found in the lounge are a few historic clues.
Steamships graced the Inn’s wharf from the 1920s to 1950s, with the entire community gathering for the latest news and supplies. Old-timer Roy Dahlnas reminisced: “I remember running down to the Inn and everyone was there enjoying themselves.” In the early ’70s, custodian Tina Oswald’s parents, Doug and Dorothy Hayward, bought the inn. Tina remembers working at the Inn as a young girl: “There were a lot of ‘rowdies’ in those days, including the resident pig Rosie who would often escape, roll in the oil pit, and rub up against everyone’s cars!”
The Inn has since adapted to economic, environmental, and lifestyle changes on the island—adding campsites, a full-service marina, more rooms, cabins, a suite, the HBI Pub, the Fireside Lounge, and the Herons Dining Room and Deck. “The variety the Inn offers is warm and welcoming for all to enjoy!” shares Custodian and General Manager (GM) Christi Edwards. The Acton-Plasterers installed bathrooms in each room in 1986. Then in 1988, the Inn was purchased by Julia Ferrall, Tom Pearson, and Charles Soderquist, and, in 2004, Lorraine Wright bought it and extended its footprint by about 30 per cent.
As one might expect, the building has a few lingering spirits. A white-haired woman is often seen quietly knitting or looking out the window—she may be waiting for her husband lost at sea. A bit of a trickster, she likes to move furniture, toss glassware, and has broken a bottle of Amaretto! There is also a large, dark-haired, bearded fellow in a heavy canvas rain slicker and fisherman’s hat. He enters the pub dripping wet (even when it’s not raining) and disappears when addressed. He is thought to walk the upstairs hallway in the early morning. The tale goes that he was murdered, though some believe he was the murderer.
In November 2008, the hotel was sold to a group of 12 Quadra Islanders—a partnership spearheaded by Lois Taylor and Paul Mortimer, along with a diverse group that includes a plumber, an electrician, an accountant, construction builders, musicians, entertainers, a handful of barkeeps, and a few dreamers who believe in The Community Custodial Concept (CCC). It must be noted that without Ferrall, Soderquist, and Wright’s patient dedication, the CCC would not be here today.
While some call us “hippies gone corporate,” we run under a standard business structure. Operational decisions are made by Edwards, and capital investment work is decided by all. Much collaboration with ideas and planning exists within these mechanisms.
We are called custodians because we understand that we must nurture this incredible space—a true local gathering place.
We have the skills to do so, pride in sharing it with the public, a passion for a healthy community, and a drive to provide work for locals. We are the caretakers of the Inn’s history and its future, building prosperity for generations to come. As Paul Mortimer has said, “Let’s give the old girl a chance by providing economic and analytical diversity, similar to Quadra Island as a whole.”
Our calendar is full of diverse and lively events. One is the brainchild of Custodian Tracy Sinclair and JD Waibel after they listened to tales and observed the skills of islanders tucked away in all the nooks of Quadra. The plan was that, with some nudging, islanders would tell their stories to more than the person on the next barstool. And so the University of Quadra (UofQ) was born. For over a decade, the informal lecture series has been, and still is, enjoyed on Wednesdays from October to May. The UofQ celebrates its “graduates” with an end-of-year “prom” that encourages interpretive formal attire, and dancing is a must! Entertainment is our passion, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy—whether it’s a band, concert, karaoke, music bingo, private event, or simply the colourful local characters that welcome everyone with open arms.
We are delighted to be a local gathering place where people of all ages and walks of life meet on a human level. We are unique, and our guests enjoy this part of us and that part of themselves. We aim for a good time to be had by all.