J. Alistair Palmer: Host, Guide, & Owner
Alistair was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but immigrated to British Columbia, Canada, at an early age. After living in the coastal town of Powell River, (one the Sunshine Coast), his family moved to Vancouver where he graduated from high school. He moved to Victoria to attend the University of Victoria and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing.
After graduation, Alistair started a company that promoted arts and entertainment in Victoria but eventually moved back to Vancouver to do the same. With other partners they formed the Institute of Communication Arts along with Entercom Media Services. Entercom offered graphic design and print promotional services along with marketing, to a multitude of clients.
After breaking out on his own, Alistair produced two tour programs each for rock band Loverboy as well as Bryan Adams. He won the rights to publish five World Festival Magazines for Expo '86 and later became a music manager to several singer/songwriters including FARA, an indigenous vocalist and Crusoe (now known as Jude Davison). He placed Crusoe songs on 2 Baywatch episodes, which was the most syndicated TV show in the world at the time.
Years later, Alistair focussed on marketing materials and branding strategies for clients like Langara Fishing Adventures, in Haida Gwaii, (previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands), and Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, in the interior of British Columbia. This he loved as he got to expand his photographic and writing talents while spending time in unique and rare wilderness locations.
Before turning 50, Alistair started spending more time at Quarry Bay and in 2004, he embarked on a 15 year construction odyssey. It all started with a major cliff blast on his waterfront property. That and the ensuing scaling work prepared the way for the funicular elevator stanchions and rails, a cliff-side wharf patio, ramp and floating docks. Then came the elevator building and Perch Studio and a bridge to link it to the original Tree House cabin, and finally, a major upgrade and expansion.
Alistair has been bringing his two sons to Quarry Bay since the oldest was six weeks old! Now in their mid-twenties and graduated from University, they return on long weekends with their friends. Alistair embarked on writing a collection of stories about his parental journey entitled Confessions of a Weekend Dad. The first book, (of a planned trilogy collection), is available for purchase on Amazon. The second book is finished but awaiting release. The third is in the works. Many stories originate and take place at Quarry Bay. If interested, go to the website: Weekenddad.ca
In the Weekend Dad website, if you go to Author’s Corner, then to Photography, you will see some of Alistair’s photography collection that include Nelson Island. If he’s not out in his Nelson Ranger boat, photographing nature, hiking, swimming or using his water toys, he could be up in his studio writing more stories. He’s still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up, but for now, he’s learning to be an engaging and helpful guide for all his guests.
Why the Quarrybbean?
The name Quarrybbean originated from Alistair’s imagination. After vacationing in the Caribbean, he felt that the vibe was similar to that of Quarry Bay during the summer… different landscape and weather patterns but with the same feeling of a warm ocean breeze and seaside freedom, open sky, visibility, and lack of man-made infrastructure and pollution. Another thing that has been mentioned by friends is a throw back to the 60’s when Vancouver had hippie era events like the Stanley Park “Be In” gatherings… sounds like ‘bbean’ hence the ‘Quarry Be In’ assimilation.
In 2004, Alistair was tasked with creating the theme and organizing the strata’s annual community Quarry Harbour Sea Festival. He came up with “Pirates of the Quarrybbean.” People dressed as pirates and he launched a major treasure hunt for a coveted chest full of booty. The Quarrybbean name manifested itself with his eventual conception of a wilderness retreat.
After 30 years of enjoying and creating a living environment that takes advantage of the sun, wind, and tides, everything is beginning to make sense. Pirates seek their treasure but is it really gold and precious jewels?
Paulo Coelho wrote... "Where ever your heart is, there you will find your treasure."
Build It And They Will Come….
When I was taking Creative Writing at the University of Victoria, one of my class mates was W.P. Kinsella. His stories were so good, I believed he would be the most likely to succeed as a writer. Many years later, he wrote a book called “Shoeless Joe Jackson.” It was made into a movie entitled “Field of Dreams” which starred Kevin Costner. Costner’s character was driven by visions and voices in his head to build a baseball park complete with nightlights and bleachers, right in the middle of his Iowa cornfield.
The voices told him to “build it and they will come.” There’s a few parallel stories but the main one is about blind faith and believing in your inner voice. Despite financial risk he pursued and strange things started to happen. Were they real or imagined? Nothing made sense but everything happens for a reason.
Word spread that this impassioned guy was building a baseball park in the middle of No-Where, Iowa. Eventually, on the eve of bankruptcy and foreclosures, he finished his task without really knowing why. Then in the last scene, its night time and as the lights of his baseball park are turned on, the camera starts to pull away into the night sky and we witness an endless line of car lights heading towards his baseball park.
My Quarrybbean story converges from several events, but a seed was planted while visiting Machu Picchu and travelling throughout Peru’s Sacred Valley along side several Qero shamans, in 2003. As part of my spiritual initiation, I took the ceremonial ayahuasca hallucinogen during a shamanic ritual on the banks of an Amazon tributary. Days later, I continued seeing Inca-like faces in clouds, trees, rocks and nature in general. I thought it was the drug but the shamans assured me that I had attained my spiritual ‘third eye'. I was released from the bonds of linear thinking and became a soul of the world. The spiritual realm opened up a world of possibilities.
When I returned to Canada and Quarry Bay, I became obsessed with the faces on my cliff and elsewhere during my hikes. The idea of building a funicular hill-side elevator, along with a wharf and docks below, manifested within me. The inspiration for that originated from the funicular that Langara Lodge had built for their fishing guests, in Haida Gwaii. I had explored Haida Gwaii, particularly on Langara and Graham Islands, many years previous and those spiritual experiences in the sacred forests and on the shores stayed with me.
The costs to drill and blast the cliff, the geo-techs, structural engineering, rock scaling, and on-going construction with barges, tugs, cement and pumper trucks, and other heavy equipment, not to mention labour, permits and inspectors, was staggering. After all that, I was still compelled by what I thought were recurring coincidences and my obsessive visions, without really knowing the true purpose. I was also deeply influenced by The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho and The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield. Both inspired me to follow what eventually became my personal legend and destiny quest.
At the top of the elevator rails I needed to have a building to receive the funicular carriage, but I also envisioned a writing studio with a panoramic view of Quarry Bay and beyond. I had recurring dreams of being able to fly high above where I could see my completed project. I’m sure I was an eagle in a previous incarnation. This experience was so intense that later on I wrote a story about it. The story is called Blast of Destiny, and it’s in my second Confessions of a Weekend Dad book, yet to be released.
I’ve always felt a calming peacefulness when in solitude with nature and am compelled to share those experiences and my ensuing insights. Following that inner voice got me buried in debt, but instead of quitting, I doubled down and surged ahead to finish my quest. This involved the introduction of solar power and a large extension and renovation to my original cabin.
Late in the process, friends suggested I use the internet to facilitate my passion for nature and to monetize my investment. The thought gave me hope that I could stem the financial bleeding and assist with recoupment and maintenance costs. That’s when my lifetime experiences with photography, writing, marketing, branding, and advertising, converged into what I can only describe as the Quarrybbean magic. It all started coming together in August of 2019 with a sprinkling of paying guests.
With 2020 being the start of a new decade, I’m encouraged by another saying… “there is no such thing as a coincidence, because everything happens for a reason." In this whole process, I have found my passion and my purpose. My persistence is paying off because I built it and yes, they are indeed coming.
What I've learned is that faith can indeed move mountains. Cliff sides too. Interestingly, cell phones and the internet didn’t exist and solar power and computers were still in their infancy when I first bought the property in 1987. VRBO wasn’t even an idea when I started with the initial blast in 2004. Ironically, that's the same year I conceived of the Quarrybbean name, not really knowing what it was destined for.
It’s been an incredible journey of faith and perseverance and now VRBO has afforded me the opportunity I couldn’t have dreamed of back then. That inner voice, without knowing the ultimate outcome, lead me to this moment. People are enquiring from around the globe about partaking in the Quarrybbean’s quintessential West Coast experience. They too are sensing something very special.
My Nelson Ranger was custom built for Haida Gwaii sea conditions and I obtained it as a partial reward from my friends at Langara Adventures. When I wander the shores and back woods of the Quarrybbean, it brings back memories of Haida Gwaii. I too believe that there are no coincidences, that everything happens for a reason. The Quarrybbean was meant to be!
If this website has stirred something inside of you, trust your inner feelings and allow yourself to come and experience the magic that is... the Quarrybbean!
* In all of the above I never mentioned my rugby career, over seas tours, attending 5 Rugby World Cups, winning provincial championships or my other family - the UBCOB Ravens Rugby Club. I have many rugby stories alright but those are for another book!
** The illustrations displayed in this section are from both of my Weekend Dad books.
The creative illustrators are: Dale Hitchcox and Gordon Morris.