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Part 1: The Founders’ Story

Deborah Murray

A Tale of Two Directions

It takes about a minute after you arrive at Nimmo Bay to wonder, “how on earth did this place come to be?”

Perhaps someone exhausted an inheritance, invested savings after running a hedge fund, or engaged a silent investor with deep pockets. Scratch all three off the list. In truth, the one minor investor pulled out after seeing the gargantuan effort it would take to turn a parcel of remote wilderness into a lodge of any kind, let alone a world-renowned fishing resort. No, the story of Nimmo Bay rests on the admitted naiveté, okay ignorance, and indefatigable determination of two young people who were destined to take on such a challenge.

This blog intends to tell that story, a tale that begins with Deborah Davis standing on the roadside in the pouring rain. Deb had hitchhiked with a girlfriend across Canada, ending up, as one does, in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. A Newfoundlander, she’d recently graduated from the University of Guelph.

Not that there was any Maritime normalcy to her upbringing. Her politically active dad was essentially exiled from Newfoundland, relocating his family to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). However, a school for a precocious girl was non-existent, which is how Deb found herself in India, alone, on a train to a missionary school “that nobody had ever heard of” in Madras.

You could argue the school, a stern institution that forbade communication with parents where students bathed with one bucket of hot water per week, as well as Sir Lanka, where the Davises lived without refrigeration among frequent ant infestations, prepared Deb for the early Nimmo days. She tried to run away, scaling a glass shard-topped wall and escaping, unsuccessfully it turns out, through the surrounding dense jungle. On holiday break, she told her parents the truth about the boarding school.

Deb never returned.

“There I was at twelve years old in Ceylon with no friends my age and no school to attend,” recalls Deb. “I spent all day on the beach, surfing, and hanging out with Arthur C. Clarke, who was living there too.”

Not surprisingly, Deb had an impossible time connecting when she returned to Newfoundland in Grade 11, so she was soon off to Toronto, then two years touring Europe via motorcycle, then back to Toronto to work, and here’s where things get weird, as a secretary for an insurance company. Then to Uni. Then across Canada, and eventually, standing in a downpour on the shoulder of Highway 19, letting the Fates take her south or north.

Deborah Murray

“My girlfriend and I stood with our thumbs out on either side of the road. If a car stopped for her, we would travel south to the ferry and home to eastern Canada. If a car stopped for me, we would continue north to Port Alice to see about getting jobs in the mill.”

Deb never got that mill job, but she did see a window sign in a Port McNeill diner that read “Waitress Wanted – Board Provided.”

A few days later, having heard there was “fresh blood in the water,” according to Deb, a young man, who was “so straight he didn’t even smoke dope,” walked through the diner’s front door. 

To be continued…

Words: Crai S Bower

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