It started in the early 1990s with an offhanded comment to a pal during a fly fishing trip near Tofino. “I wouldn’t mind owning a piece of the wilderness one day,” he said to his friend Randy Goddard. “If you find something special give me a call.” Today, Genovese is owner of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, an eco-tourism and glamour camping destination that continues to draw raves and visitors from around the world.
A Toronto native, Genovese’s path to a remote part of the untamed western coastline of Vancouver Island was paved with blood, sweat and good old fashioned perseverance. His ambition was inspired by his mother, who raised three boys on her own. Money was tight and Genovese caught the entrepreneurial spirit early on. He started his first successful venture in high school, which he later sold for a tidy profit. At Western University in London, Ontario, he paid his tuition working nights as a bartender.
After graduation, his uncle introduced him to the owner of Scotia McLeod (then McLeod Young Weir Ltd), where he was eventually hired. Following that, he moved to Calgary to work for Merrill Lynch and then to Vancouver to join Canaccord (then Canarim). He eventually moved with his family to Monaco.
It was while he was living there in 1998 that his old fishing buddy Randy Goddard called, remembering his comment from that fateful trip. Goddard told him that he had found Shangri-La back on Vancouver Island. Genovese flew in from Monte Carlo. During an aerial tour he saw the devastation left by logging, but he also saw the extraordinary beauty of Quait Bay, three mountain lakes, and miles of rugged coastline. He bought 160 acres, put it into a family trust, and spent $2-million in preliminary clean up.
He moved back to Canada and set up a venture capital firm called Connect Capital Corporation, where he continues to finance compelling public company opportunities in all business realms. One investment, Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, is still going strong. Now at a Bedwell River location, not far from the original Quait Bay, the resort has earned rave reviews from visitors and travel media. Genovese is proud of the resort and the life changing experiences it offers guests, many of whom return time after time. But it’s his work with the resort team to restore and repair the nature in the area as part of the Environmental Legacy program he founded that has given him the greatest sense of accomplishment.
With a $3-million investment, supplemented with a guest sustainability fee, the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort’s Environmental Legacy program is making a significant difference rebuilding salmon habitats on the Bedwell River. His work with resort managing director John Caton to build partnerships and establish a protocol with the local first nations is also profoundly meaningful to him.
Not only has Genovese managed to own a piece of the wilderness he fell in love with all those years ago, he is leaving it better than he found it, forming meaningful partnerships based on respect, and sharing this piece of paradise with the world. Guess you could say he’s found himself in the wilderness.
Living in a remote tract of pristine wilderness on the edge of Vancouver Island was only part of the plan for John Caton, Managing Director of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. For a man who’s been called a hippie, globe-trotter, farmer, real estate developer, music executive and entrepreneur, a life on the edge spurred a search for middle ground. And it was on this middle ground that Clayoquot was born.
John was a wild child, born in Toronto and raised in a farm just outside the city. After finishing high school, a knapsack, some chutzpa and a wry sense of humour took him on a four-year trip around the globe. From Europe to the Yukon, boat building to mining, John did whatever it took to make money and keep moving.
Then John found someone to share his wild dreams with: his wife of more than 40-years, Adele. They were married in May of 1973, and set off in a VW flower-power van with a road map pointing west. They hoped to start a new life for themselves, reaching the shores of Vancouver Island three weeks after leaving Ontario. They settled outside Comox and built a small house on the Oyster River. John started his first successful business, the couple had two sons, and his new life seemed well under way.
Then, everything changed. John and Adele returned to Ontario, John got his real estate license and went in to business with his father. But at the end of five years, John and Adele escaped the city to follow their vision of a simpler life. They bought a 200-acre farm on Ontario’s Georgian Bay and disappeared over the hill to raise kids, buffalo and horses. Well, that was the plan.
A year later, a phone call from an old high school friend set John off on another path. He went from gentleman farmer to music mogul in the blink of an eye. Working as a talent agent for Warner Brothers Music, John was flying 200,000 miles per year and managing Canadian legends like Blue Rodeo and Prairie Oyster. Along with glamour and high stakes came late nights and long days. His candle was burning at both ends and a few places in the middle.
But his life was almost a “candle in the wind” in the words of Sir Elton John. At the age of 39, John had a major coronary attack, followed closely by a major epiphany. Overweight with an inoperable hole in his heart and a life careening out of control, he decided to move back to his 200-acres and reconnect with his old life, his family, and the things that mattered most.
In recreating his life, he and Adele created a concept for a wilderness retreat. Rick Genovese and the Genovese Family Trust were as excited as John about the idea, and the world has since shared in their enthusiasm. Ten years later, international media and savvy travellers worldwide are talking about Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.
Gary began his career as an underground miner in northern Canada and later obtained an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University. In 1989 he joined the Foreign Service in the Office of Protocol where he organized Head of State Visits to Canada. King Hussein of Jordan, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Presidents Corazon Aquino, Lech Walesa and George Bush were only a few of the many world leaders he accompanied across Canada. After the first visit to Canada by Nelson Mandela in 1990, Prime Minister Mulroney agreed to lend him to the African National Congress in Johannesburg where he worked closely with the antiapartheid hero for eighteen months in a personal security capacity.
Gary’s last posting with External Affairs was as Deputy Commissioner General for Canada at Expo ’92 in Seville, Spain. After the death of his father, he decided to remain in Spain but travelled frequently offering private security consulting to high-wealth individuals, politicians and governments. In 2001, after almost two years as GM of a landmark historic inn in Westport, Connecticut, a Relais & Chateaux property, he returned to Spain to fulfill his life-long dream to learn how to cook and make wine. He worked with several of Spain’s top chefs, including Ferran Adria of El Bulli near Barcelona, then the number one restaurant in the world. He spent the next two years learning how to craft world-class wines from some of Spain’s most prestigious wine-makers. In 2002, he launched a new career as a Food & Wine critic on Spanish radio with Carlos Herrera on Onda Cero. His humorous reviews of restaurants and fine wines never failed to delight the audience of over 2.5 million listeners.
After a serious bout with cancer in 2007, Gary took time off from journalism to write his first novel, Death of a Pharaoh, which became a finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. He is currently working on the Jake Sparling mystery series with the first book due out in 2016. Equally at ease in front of the cameras as behind a microphone, he was the guest commentator with CTV’s Lisa Laflamme for Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa in December of 2013.
An avid canoeist, kayaker and hiker, Gary looks forward to the outdoor aspect of life at CWR but most important, he relishes the chance to help our team continue to provide the ultimate luxury wilderness experience to all our guests.
Ryan Orr was born and raised in Victoria on the southern end of Vancouver Island. Growing up, Ryan spent his summers on the local beaches with his friends, wading into the lagoons picking up Dungeness Crabs with fishing nets. Ryan has fond memories of his grandfather coming by the house before the sun came up to take him out fishing, always coming home “a little green around the gills” and with stories of the “big one” that got away. Vancouver Island is, and always will be home for Ryan. For more on Chef Orr
From Ontario, Kathy has been a camper from a young age and the resort industry is nothing new to her either. Starting at Deerhurst Resort in Haliburton Ontario at the age of 18, it is no wonder she loves the outdoors and life at CWR. Kathy joined the team in 2008 and can be found in the office as our Director of Marketing. On the operations side, she is a busy girl organizing the guiding staff and assisting in the resorts general operations with John. Kathy can be found around camp ensuring that everyone is having a great time as well as helping you organize your daily activities during your stay with us at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.
Donna joined the CWR team in the spring of 2013 as our onsite Accounts Supervisor. While you can see Donna in the office, her nose buried deep in numbers, she is also found around camp talking to guests and often times on an evening horse back ride. An avid rider, hailing from the Okanagan Valley, Donna is a natural fit here at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.
Anna Neill joined our team in the fall of 2014 as our newest year round staff member in the reservations office. Hailing from Campbell River, a town on the North East side on Vancouver Island, Anna has taken to the remote wilderness living like a pro. Having spent the last little while living in Tofino, making the move out to the Bedwell was a natural step for her. Ask her what she loves the most about being out here and her response “the wilderness!” Perfect fit! Don’t be shy when you get here, stop by and see Anna and welcome her to the Clayoquot family!
Carl Cawston comes by his affiliation with Clayoquot Wilderness Resort by blood. His dad Dave Cawston, the resort’s excavator operator (affectionately known as Digger Dave), has been helping to shape the property in the Bedwell River Valley since the first tent was erected. Carl has chosen a different path than his dad, and finds himself moving kayaks rather than moving dirt. His most recent passion is shooting the rapids in the whitewater flowing down the Bedwell River. Carl hasn’t always been a river rat, though. The first job he ever landed was with Clayoquot Wilderness Resort as the tiki boy when he was 14, and he’s been with the resort ever since that day in 2003. Since first joining the crew, Carl has worked diligently building his outdoor skills. He now holds certifications in sea kayaking, wilderness first aid, marine radio operation and swift water rescue.
Chad or Cactus, affectionately named by his parents John and Adele, was born just south east of Tofino in the Comox Valley on the island. While Cactus had an early start to living a quiet rural life in the woods of B.C., the Caton family headed back to Toronto, Ontario when he was young and he spent much of childhood there before returning west. A team member since 1999 Chad spends his time both in the Bedwell and In Tofino with his wife, Shari and son Rylee.
Born and raised in Tofino, Dave now finds himself at home in the village of Tofino with his wife and new baby when not at the resort. Dave is happy to be anywhere near or on a boat; he says he loves to be on the water. When not on the water reeling in the fish or driving through the Wildside, Dave is seen guiding guests down the Bedwell River or through the shooting range. Dave spends his time perfecting his skills in all sports. Surfing, fishing, wakeboarding, basketball, baseball, and hockey are among those on his list. Dave also spends time learning his culture, the native Nuu-Chah-NuultL culture of Clayoquot Sound. Dave has been a team member since 2008.
Dickson, like many Easterners, migrated west from his homeland in Ontario. It was John and Adele who drew Dickson to CWR for a “little visit” many moons ago, but he just wouldn’t leave. A team member since 2001, he has worn many hats for Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. He has been a DJ, activity coordinator, Level Three First Aid attendant, Fire Chief and Marksmen to date. His eight years of radio broadcasting are now in the wake of Dickson’s past, where life at the resort is a no brainer. “Just look around,” he says. “This is living in paradise with great people. We’re all one big family.”
Island boy to the bone, Kaelhub loves anything to do with the outdoors. Although, you will see him smiling away in the cookhouse helping Chef Orr in creating your fabulous meals, in his off time, Kaelhub loves fishing, hiking and exploring other beautiful countries in the world. Kaelhub found Clayoquot to be home in 2008 and after taking a year off, realized that home is where the Bedwell is and is now one of the year round full time staff.
Skippy has a short move from his hometown to the camp when its time to start the season at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. Born and raised in the Comox Valley just a few hours east of Tofino, Skippy has been migrating to the Outpost since 2000. At a crossroads in life he stumbled across CWR as a construction laborer and was then onto guiding like a dirty skirt. When his hammer’s not pounding at camp set up, Skippy is the man to take guests on a hike or mountain bike ride. His love for the outdoors has him in search of all sports that involve that famous white stuff on B.C. mountains. Put him on any mountain that has snow in the winter and Skippy will be happy.
Nikki has been with the resort since 2010 and has loved every minute of it. Working towards her double degree in Environmental Studies and Social Justice, Nikki takes every chance she can to get outside and learn all she can about her favorite activities. Her love for the water makes her a perfect fit for us with her ever growing knowledge of our Pacific whales.
Another island boy to the core, Owen loves the outdoors and all that goes along with it making CWR a perfect place to call home for most of the year. One of the first guides in the Bedwell many moons ago; Owen found his way back to CWR in 2010 and has said “you can’t beat the living out here!” When not on a boat or leading an activity in the rainforest, Owen can usually be found with a pencil behind his ear and a hammer in hand. A roofer by trade, Owen brings many skills to the Bedwell all year long. Father of 2 boys, the summer is a great “camp” for his young ones who are found helping dad out whenever possible.
When Qaamina first met John Caton in 1998, it took a mere year before he became part of the crew at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. In the years that Qaamina and family have worked at the resort, he has had the opportunity to show many of the adventure-seeking guests around his own backyard. Qaamina’s roots run deep in the Clayoquot Sound. Flores Island, home to the “Walk on the Wild Side,” has been Qaamina’s home since birth. If joined on his journey, guests may learn the names of plants and animals in the native language, as well as their traditional uses since time began. Qaamina’s descendants are important to him and he’s always happy to share his knowledge with the resort’s guests. It is his elders who have shaped him and his knowledge comes down through the generations – it is these stories that he captivates visitors with as they meander through the old growth rainforest and the white sandy beaches on the wild side of Clayoquot sound.
Ruth Sam is a family woman through and through. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort is home to not only her husband, Qaamina, but also her daughter Katrina and four of her grandchildren. The Sam family has been with the resort since 2000, and Ruth made her employment official by joining the team in 1999. While you may rarely see her at camp, Ruth keeps busy making magic up at the laundry room, and getting every crease and cranny from the doilies, linen napkins and finery. Ruth’s home is not far from the Bedwell River Valley. In fact, just around the corner on Flores Island, in the village of Ahousaht, is where Ruth was born and raised. It is her elders, and specifically her mom and her uncles within the village, who have most influenced her.
Our horse lover, Sammy, rides whenever she can and has been on the back of our horses since 2010. Studying for her teaching degree, Sammy is a busy beaver in the winters accomplishing her degree from Vancouver Island University and riding at the same time! With hopes of seeing the world, Sammy is on the right track with working the winter months in Florida at an Olympic stable.
Another one of the great Tom men has been one of our guides here since 2011 and we don’t see Eugene leaving anytime soon! Growing up on the water and being active in the off season, CWR is a perfect fit with Eugene! You will find Eugene driving our boats to find baby bears and whales or active on the Wildside activity. Eugene can fill you in all a lot of the history of the area. We love seeing his smiling face in everything that he is doing. I think if you ever saw him unhappy, it would be a first!
Guests are toasted by Tereza as they sip and swill their wine pairing with Chef Orr’s modern natural cuisine in the cookhouse here at CWR. Tereza can pair a wine with any meal Chef Orr creates. Wine is her passion and she has studied with the International Sommelier Guild and the Spanish Wine Academy. She first began specializing in wines from British Columbia, then expanded to include local knowledge of wines from the Pacific Northwest and now organic and bio-dynamic wines from around the world. It was the prospect of a new adventure that first brought Tereza to the Bedwell River Valley in 2007. She continues the adventure as Clayoquot Wilderness Resort’s sommelier and claims that the opportunity to live in paradise and to pair great wines with excellent food is reason enough to return. Ask Tereza about her fondest memory at the resort, and she will talk about the breathtaking sight of millions of stars late one evening after closing. Paradise indeed!
The ladies behind the scenes Cathy Williams (Head Housekeeper), Annabelle Williams, Millie Williams It is a family affair with these three! Scene scurrying from tent to tent during the day cleaning, primping and fluffing, these amazing ladies do it all and make your tent home while you are here. All the fine details are taken care of under their watchful eyes. Not only are they sisters, they are friends that enjoy each other. Find them at any point of the day and they are laughing and smiling together, it’s infectious! You might even be lucky enough to have Cathy’s son as your fishing guide…Dave Tom, the man that brought his mom and two aunts to us and we are forever happy about it!
Rylee is a really lucky kid who has spent a good part of his life growing up at the resort. Born in Nanaimo, he’s been playing in the Clayoquot Rainforest for a handful of years. But life isn’t all fun and games for Rylee Cougar Caton. He has a job at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort to fill. He’s there to greet guests on the wagon from time to time, and he can also be seen running alongside his dad, Cactus, fertilizing the fields. But his most important job is to keep everyone laughing and smiling. And ‘witty’ as a descriptor is no understatement; this is a wise old man in a boy’s body.
Makaio can be seen running amuck around the camp wreaking havoc and entertaining staff and guests alike with his crazy antics, all the while with a bright eyed but devious grin that lets you know he is already thinking of some new caper to unleash on the world. Makaio loves to watch dad cook and help mom with chores, but if you ask Chef, he won’t be steered towards the professional kitchen! “Let him have a life” he says with a laugh.
Teagan Maya is the newest addition to the Orr family, born in the middle of the 2011 season. She watches her big brother through her sparkling blue eyes with great interest, trying to learn as much as she can. Her sweet shining face brings a smile to all those that get a chance to see her, and brings Mom and Dad back down to earth to take a moment and remember what is truly important. She loves to explore and can’t wait get up walking around, discovering the adventures that summers at the Outpost have in store.
The dogs and horses are as much a part of the resort’s tapestry as are the snow capped mountains and fireside chats. The dogs keep the bears out of the lunch and the warmth in guest’s hearts on rainy days. Guests will find John and Adele’s newest member of the pack wherever they see a bear encroaching on camp. The horses work hard to; bringing guests into the resort to start their Clayoquot adventure and otherwise taking them onto the trails and other nature experiences.
Bandit: Bandit is a wily bear dog, and he howls like the moon is rising when he’s on guard. He joined the resort last year and proudly takes the name ‘Bandit the 2nd’, the third of John Caton’s Llewellyn Setters.
Hazard: Hazard has been living at the Bedwell longer than any other dog. He is the best hiking companion that you could ever ask for, as he never leaves your side. Hazard inherited his best traits from two of our past dogs; Ebony, a Black Lab, and Duke, a Catahoula.
Stella: This blond ambition belongs to Dickson and is happy where ever he is. New to the Bedwell a few years back, Stella took to the outdoor life straight away and quickly became Dickson’s 4 legged friend. Stella is usually up at the staff accommodation during the summer season as her age is starting to show a wee bit but the times she is down at camp, her tail will be wagging and she’ll be looking for a stick to throw with you.
Sweet Annie: Sweet Annie is the lab/setter cross, and was the runt of the litter that came along unexpectedly to two of the camp dogs. Adele wasn’t so sure that the Caton’s needed another dog, but after taking care of her as a pup, she just couldn’t give her up.
Witwalk: With Nuu-Chal-Nuth name “Warrior”, Witwalk is our guide Nikki’s 4 legged friend and always by her side. A super large teddy bear, Wit can be found on the Wildside playing in the surf or snoozing by the fire here at the resort.
Sassy: Sassy, the beautiful female Llewellyn Setter, is the princess of the house. While her beauty may be striking, her sass is nothing to tangle with. She is aptly named and will show guests so. Dog lovers should beware; these three dogs will capture their hearts.
Rango: Toss a stick and you are in for a very long game of catch with Dave Tom’s buddy Rango. Rango has been at the resort since he was a puppy and has grown into a one of everyone’s favorites here. A black lab and full of energy, you will always know when Rango has been around…just look for the pile of chewed sticks!
Peggy-Sue: Sweet little Peggy-Sue! For those that have been here will know the likes of Peggy-Sue. She is one ball of energy that loves to hang out with the kids. We think July and August are her favourite months! Peggy is John and Adele’s latest addition to the Bedwell family of dogs and as soon as she stepped paws onto the resort grounds she became an instant favourite. Don’t let her size fool you though, she is one brave little dog with a bark that could frighten any a bear!
Storm: Storm is one of nine horses that came with the Caton family from Ontario. Since 1998, Storm has maintained his position as head of the herd. However, you might see Marble challenging him every once in a while. Storm is a high spirited horse, which probably explains the bond between him and John. You can often spot the pair in a Lone Ranger pose; it is quite the photo opportunity.
Red: We can’t mention Storm without mentioning John’s other horse, Red. However, John and Red rarely ride together. This is because Red has become a favourite among all of our guests. Red is the perfect horse for children and beginners. Don’t let his gentle side fool you, because if you are looking for a thrill, Red is one of our fastest horses and boy, does he ever love to run.
Koko: Though not the most comfortable ride, Koko is one our most solid horses. He is always eager to go out, and you can be sure to find him at the front of the trail ride. Koko deserves an honourable mention for his assistance in the Resort’s Chinook Hatchery Project. Koko helped pack two very large seine nets up the Ursus Valley.
Pete: If you have visited, or plan on visiting, the Resort, you will be sure to hear the name Pete more than once. Pete is one of our wagon horses who is always getting into mischief; whether it is bugging another horse, breaking out of the coral, untying his lead at the hitching post or making his partner do all the pulling. Pete! Pete! PETE!!! He is our biggest horse and his personality lives up to his size.