Grizzly bear cubs in Bella Coola at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge. Photo: Mike Wigle.
Engaging Locals

Jessib Padgett - Guide

Jessib Padgett, Tweedsmuir Park Lodge

The story goes that Jessib's parents embarked on an extended cross Canada road trip in their Volkswagen van in 1971. On their return from the East Coast, they drove down to explore the Bella Coola Valley. Their van broke down at the bottom of the 'hill' which transpired to be a happy misfortune.

Resourceful and rugged and needing a place to live for the coming winter, they moved into an old homestead on the Tote Road in the Atnarko Valley. There, they began a new chapter in their lives and started a family, Jessib's mother having all three of her children at home.

Jessib is the eldest. He grew up hunting, fishing, mushroom picking and farming, as his parents truly lived off the land. At the age of 14 his parents moved to the town of Hagensborg so the children could finish their schooling. This was the era of snowboarding and, after making several makeshift snowboards out of toboggans, Jessib finally got a real board and was rarely seen in the valley thereafter, as he spent all of his free time in the Rainbow Mountains.

After graduating high school in Bella Coola, he moved to Whistler, working as a carpenter and competing professionally as a snowboarder.

In 2004 he moved to Vancouver to attend BCIT and is now a ticketed carpenter and owner of Central Coast Construction, building houses throughout British Columbia. Jessib spends his summers in Bella Coola working as a carpenter and also as a skilled guide, both on the river and hiking, showing visitors to the valley some of the best of Bella Coola.