Wild Isle is as much an idea as it is a business.
The idea part is the personal drive I have to visit and explore as much of Vancouver Island and the BC coast as possible. Why? I don’t know, it’s just the way I roll. There’s probably a hundred clichés that would fit, you know.. the journey and the destination and all that. I guess it comes down to a hunger for new horizons combined with a desire to get to know one place intimately. That’s not to say I’m not interested in travelling elsewhere, far from it but I am very content to have found myself on the BC coast and hope to wander the mountains, valleys, beaches and fjords as much as I can.
Oh yes, so there’s a business side to this. Well in a round about way I suppose. My friends often remark that I’ve done a pretty good job of blending my passions with my work. How so? Well work for me is pretty diverse but it typically hinges on some combination of: publishing, photography, hiking, boating, climbing, writing, promoting, guiding and educating.
While that sounds pretty carefree, I do have a day job. I run a bi-weekly news magazine from my home office on Quadra Island. The Discovery Islander circulates 2,200 copies every two weeks to Quadra, Cortes Island, Stuart Island, Read Island, Redonda Island and Thurlow Island. I’ve published the paper since 1997 so it’s added up to a fair number of editions – over 400 at the time of writing. It’s definitely a major commitment to have such a regular cycle of deadlines but the key to it I am sure has been the fortnightly schedule. Every other week allows a good mix of time to work on other projects, to escape on some adventure or tend to tasks around the homestead. Celebrated author Hilary Stewart, a long-time Quadra resident, once commented to me that she felt the bi-weekly publication fit the pace of the islands and I think she’s right.
Along the way I’ve published a quarterly adventure sports magazine Wild Isle (thus the name) several guidebooks and local history books and there’s always a project or two in the pipeline waiting for time or inspiration.
‘Wild Isle’ started out as a magazine. That was the first project to have the title and Wild Isle Magazine featured local Vancouver Island and west coast (British Columbia, Canada that is) adventure recreation. Over six years the magazine became to be well respected by readers and we published twenty six editions in all from 1998 to 2004. Eventually it was shoved onto the back burner. To be honest the routine of making advertising calls had just worn too thin. It was a frustrating reality that no matter how much readers loved the mag it was just too much work to convince businesses to advertise and I had to turn my attentions to other projects that were more financially viable.
In 2003 I published a more or less definitive guidebook to the mountains on Vancouver Island ‘Island Alpine’. It was a heck of a project taking fifteen years to accumulate the information and more late nights than I care to count over two years to combine it all into a book. Luckily with my magazine publishing skills getting fairly well honed by now I was able to assemble a 475 page book by myself. Of course there was a great deal of input and assistance form Island mountaineers fact checking and contributing, but the basic mechanics of layout pretty much all happened in my dining room.
Island Alpine was pretty successful and still sells steadily to this day. I followed it up in 2005 with a winter supplement ‘Island Turns and Tours’ which highlighted the backcountry skiing in the Vancouver Island mountains. Definitely a niche market but it has been very rewarding to see the backcountry ski culture grow over the past decade or so and to be a part of that. The third guidebook was one of the most enjoyable to produce. ‘Coastal Hikes’ was unlike its two predecessors because instead of accumulating some information and then converting that into a book I set out with the book concept and researched and write it simultaneously over two summers. Two very enjoyable summers.
Like most islanders I have a few pies in the oven so there’s a couple of additional publications I do like an annual visitor guide magazine to the Discovery Islands along with a companion web site and assorted freelance graphic design projects and so on.
Most if I could choose, the work I most enjoy is being out in the mountains or on the water with my camera a sharing adventures with like-minded others. And that’s what is suspect this blog will end up featuring mostly, mountains, ocean, people enjoying it, the sights they see and the wildlife they encounter.
I hope you enjoy what you find here.