Indigenous legend recounts the story of a restless wolf who lived beyond the mountains and set out to seek new hunting territory. He picked up a small box-like object in his mouth and padded away, descending the deep canyons past rushing water, until he came to a place where the river ran slow and the mountains spread wider. Needing rest, he dropped the object on the ground, which transformed into the village of Stooick (Stwic as pronounced in the local Nuxalk language), meaning a pleasing place to rest.
Stooick has been shortened to Stuie, and this is now the location of Canada’s historic Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, one of the first lodges on the West Coast of Canada. The site was well chosen and to this day people frequently remark on how peaceful and well-rested they feel after a couple of days in the area.
The first lodge was first built in 1931 by Tommy Walker, a young Englishman. Two years earlier, Tommy had a desk job as a grain importer for breweries in London. Feeling stifled and looking for adventure, he went to the Canadian immigration office. The officer showed Tommy a photograph and offered, "I have some property where those rivers meet. It is near the head of the Bella Coola Valley, about 300 miles up the coast from Vancouver. I have never been there...". Tommy decided on the spot that he would go and make a new life for himself.
Tommy, together with a friend, arrived in Bella Coola later that summer. They were both "greenhorns" and at first couldn't figure out how to make a living in this vast wilderness. Life was not easy, but as Tommy relates "We were both captivated by the magnificence and vastness of our surroundings, and neither of us wanted to leave. Coming from an old world where every available acre of even marginal land was put to some use, we were sensible of the worth of natural beauty and felt sure there must be others who would enjoy it if we provided facilities for them. We decided to build a lodge."
This was in the midst of the depression and the first clients were hard to come by, but Tommy persevered and eventually the clients started coming, including Lord Tweedsmuir, the Governor General of Canada at the time. They came to hunt and fish and Tommy's main interest was the guide outfitting part of the business. He sold the lodge operation to Colonel Corbould in 1948, affording him more time in the wilderness where he loved to be.
In 1953 the original lodge built by Tommy Walker burned to the ground. Colonel Corbould rebuilt and elements of this second lodge still stand.
The current owners bought the lodge in March 2008 and have made a number of significant upgrades to the property. This includes a new 110 square metre (1,200 sq/ft) spa building with 12 person commercial grade hot tub, new chalets, upgraded kitchen, and most importantly a new vision for eco-friendly wilderness adventure programs.
Note: The above quotes are taken from the writings of T.A. (Tommy) Walker.
For an amazing "blast from the past", click here to view an old brochure from around the 1930's (?) of Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, then known as "Stuie Lodge".