At age nineteen, Pat Ardley packed up her belongings and left Winnipeg for Vancouver, looking for adventure. Little did she know that she’d spend the next forty years in the wilderness, thirty of which would be spent with a man known as George “Hurricane” Ardley. Pat met George soon after arriving in Vancouver, and not long after that the two of them set out for Addenbroke Island to work as junior lighthouse keepers. The journey up to the little island in the Fitz Hugh Sound, 483 km north of Vancouver, took four rolling days by Coast Guard ship—and a huge leap in lifestyle. There, the couple fell in love with the wilderness lifestyle and each other. They learned to grow their own produce, keep chickens, can clams and salmon, build their own furniture, and in the evenings they read aloud to each other for entertainment. But, of course, it wasn’t always easy. Pat’s fear of the ocean made for a constant struggle in her marine environment, and being the partner of an adrenalin junky (he didn’t earn the nickname “Hurricane” for nothing!) sometimes made for a wild ride.
Soon Pat and George were starting their own remote fishing lodge in Rivers Inlet, not so far from where the adventure began on Addenbroke Island. Financed by their wilderness odd jobs, the lodge came together slowly but surely through the couple’s hard work. George proudly added a nursery to the float lodge when their family grew, and they made sure the little ones knew not to step out the door without wearing a life jacket.
Life was full of both challenges and rewards, and dealt plenty of disasters and close calls (including grizzly encounters) but the lodge business supported the family, and gained a steady clientele who were enticed back year after year by the warm welcome, beautiful setting and plentiful salmon, giant halibut and ling cod.
After running the lodge together for twenty-seven years, George passed away from cancer. Despite all the advice she received to the contrary, Pat decided to run the business on her own with the assistance of her two children.
Through resolve and strength in adversity, Pat outgrew the shadow of Hurricane Ardley and earned an intimidating nickname of her own: Don’t-Mess-with-Me Ardley. Reminiscent of British Columbia classics like Fishing with John, I Heard the Owl Call My Name and the evocative wilderness writings of Chris Czajkowski, this memoir is a touching tribute to coastal life.
About the author
Pat Ardley was born on the Canadian prairies but had a life of adventure on the West Coast with the love of her life, building the legendary Rivers Lodge in Rivers Inlet. In 2012 she sold Rivers Lodge and is now settled in West Vancouver, BC.
“It’s a fascinating read and you’ll finish it with a ‘phew!’ wondering how any one person could work so hard and do so much.”
“Author Pat Ardley and her beloved husband George pursued their dream of running a remote fishing lodge. Here are stories of halibut, salmon, and cod; of earning the trust and respect of loyal lodge customers; of balancing the demands of a growing family with seemingly endless work; and much more. Grizzlies, Gales and Giant Salmon is the next best thing to experiencing life in the wilderness firsthand, highly recommended.”
Midwest Book Review
“It is rich with detailed descriptions ... practical matters are described in loving and surprisingly interesting detail, as are frequent encounters with whales, grizzlies, and sea lions as well as the inevitable human dramas of life at an isolated lodge … [but] the living core of this story is the life-long and tender love affair between the Ardleys. ... the memoir’s prose is clean and uncluttered and the story is compelling.”
Tom Sandborn, Vancouver Sun
“Whenever you think you’re having a tough day, read a chapter or two of Grizzlies, Gales and Giant Salmon. Or if you believe you’ve done something truly heroic or astounding, take a look at what its author Pat Ardley had to do on many of her 16- to 20-hour workdays. It’ll amaze you. It’ll humble you…. She’s wondrous, roaring — a model for what a tough, loving, resourceful, seemingly inexhaustible woman can do. … a heart-tugging [and] remarkable story of a woman who at times makes Hercules look like a laggard.”
Winnipeg Free Press