03 Dec Wild Bear Lodge
We should probably have done it years ago.
We had only been here a few months – which makes it nearly 14 years ago now – when an Austrian family arrived in our yard.
The father leaped out of his car, disgorged two noisy youngsters from the back seat, and asked with authority: “Where are the grizzly bears?”
“Er, I don’t know,” I said.
It was high summer and every self-respecting bear was either deep in a berry bush or cruising the alpine six thousand feet above us.
“But you ranch grizzly bears, no?” he said.
“Well, no,” I said. “We don’t ranch them.”
“But you are a grizzly bear ranch,” he said.
I thought for a minute.
“Not exactly. We are just Grizzly Bear Ranch not a grizzly bear ranch.”
For a moment he looked crestfallen. Then he glared at me.
“So, you are not what you say you are!” he said, this time with an edge of belligerence.
After he had gone, Kristin and I laughed the incident off. But we agreed that while we might legitimately lay some claim to a link with grizzly bears we are not exactly a ranch.
No horses – though I love horses – only one old saddle and not nearly enough western kitsch. Not even a cowboy hat between us.
Truth be told we had inherited the name when we bought the property from the former owners. Not that they were running a ranch either, but at least they had horses.
And so began a long, long discussion. We talked it this way and that, back and forth, but couldn’t really come up with anything better.
“And I kind of like Grizzly Bear Ranch,” Kristin said finally.
“But you must admit we’re not a ranch,” I said.
“Maybe one day we’ll get some more horses.”
But we didn’t. We got Zodiac inflatable powerboats, whitewater rafts, a five-seat utility-terrain vehicle, endless amounts of backcountry gear, and even a small airplane, but no horses.
And meanwhile the confusion continued, even it was at a lower pitch.
“So why ranch?” we heard time and again from guests.
And of course, they were right.
Finally, then, more than a decade after we probably should have, we’re going to do the right thing. We’re going to change the name.
Wild Bear Lodge is the new name. Grizzly Bear Ranch will, with a little tear, become history.
Of course, this all involves endless amount of paperwork. I’m talking to everyone from the Canadian tax authorities, to Trip Advisor, to the British Columbia park permit authorities.
It will probably take weeks and doubtless there will be glitches and confusion for some time to come.
But the new name is kind of growing on me. It says what we are right on the tin. We’re certainly a lodge, though we do have six lovely cabins spread around the property for guests.
And we indisputably view wild bears. Which in this day and age when many operations view bears that are habituated, semi-tame or even baited (one BC operator was fined $35,000 last week for feeding bears meatballs to encourage them to show up in front of paying guests) is a rarity.
All that said, I can promise there will be no change in the way we operate, and certainly no change in ownership.
So, when you next get a chance, and fancy a bit of wild bears, primal rainforest, fast-flowing rivers and excellent hospitality, come to Wild Bear Lodge. The name says it all.