tofino profile - art clarke

Tofino Profile: Art Clarke

by Shirley Langer, Tofino


Even before meeting Art for this interview, he is already joking and joshing as we talk on the phone. Art loves to josh, and in person, he’s one of those people who can remain absolutely deadpan, except for the twinkle in his eyes. We sit in the small office he built on his driveway overlooking the sea and the docks where he worked as harbour manager for twenty-two years in 2000. Now retired, he and his family run a Tofino B&B and Duffin Passage Charters.

Art once owned his own fish boat, fishing up and down the coast for four years. Though he gave it up – “Didn’t much like rolling around out there”, he says – still, he does like talking about boats and what’s going on out on the briny. Every day at one o’clock, his cronies gather in Art’s office for a coffee klatch, where they exchange information about what’s going on out on Clayoquot Sound. One of these cronies is David Rae-Arthur, grandson of that eccentric personage, Cougar Annie, former occupant of Boat Basin. Art and the Rae-Arthur family go back a long way, school-mates in the one room school at Hot Springs Cove, where Art was raised and lived until 1975. There were eight kids in the school in those years, the 40s and 50s, four Clarkes and four Rae-Arthurs.

In 1933, Art’s father bought 260 acres at Hot Springs Cove from the province. A former tugboat skipper for Island Tug Barge Co., he then opened Clarke’s General Store, which he ran until retiring in 1968, selling all but 40 acres of his land. The 40 acres he donated for parkland, named Maquinna Park. Over the years, the Clarke family ran the store, dispensed fuel to boats from the Standard Oil Gas Station on the dock, and unloaded fish, Spring salmon and Coho, hauling them to fish boxes where they were packed in ice for shipping off to the Canadian Shipping Company in Victoria.

Born in 1940, from the age of eight, Art worked hard. “Sometimes we iced fish all night, as much as 30,000 pounds. Once we iced 75,000 pounds.” Along the way, Art, mechanically adept, learned to fix almost anything. Despite all the work and school, Art and the other youngsters had the kind of great childhood fun that is enjoyed when kids are allowed to invent their pastimes in the great out-of-doors. For high excitement, a couple of kids would climb an alder tree, which would then be chopped down. The fun was hanging on until the tree hit the ground for two great bounces before jumping free of the tree. A mix of native and non-native playmates cleared bush for a ball field.

“ What about cougars?” I ask. Art laughs aloud.

“ The cougars never bothered us. I think they knew we kids were as wild or even wilder than they were!” Art is nine in a photograph he shows me of him in his first boat—a fish box, its drain holes corked, paddling about in front of the dock using 1x4s as paddles.

Art explains there were few holidays in those days, but no shortage of work. An exception was Christmas. The fish company would send up as many as eight turkeys, and Art’s mother, Mabel, would invite native friends to partake in the festive big dinner. Art remembers the many Japanese fishermen of those days. He still corresponds with one Japanese friend who now lives in Toronto.

In the remoteness of the bush, the family radio was treasured by the Clarkes. Art’s favourite program was a phone-in talk show on CJOR hosted by sharp-tongued Jack Webster. And there was a phone in Clarke’s General Store. “Our ring was 2 short and 3 long. I remember that even though I sometimes can’t remember my own number now.” Such is the way with the memories of nostalgia.

I wonder about growing up, about thoughts turning to girlfriends in such a remote place.

“ We went out (to Victoria) every once in a long while. My first girl friend was from there.” But Art didn’t get hitched until he was forty years old. He met his wife, Gloria, in a church in Hong Kong, where he was on vacation. Gloria is from the Philippines, and was working in Hong Kong to send money home to her family. Upon returning home, Art courted Gloria by letters, and after six months, she came to Canada to marry her long-distance suitor. Art says that people welcomed Gloria. They have a son, Arthur, now eighteen, “but Gloria’s full time job”, he says, face deadpan with eyes twinkling, “is looking after Arthur—who’s really a pretty quiet guy.”

While we chat, Art has kept on his brown fedora, a Stetson.

“ I’ve never seen you without a hat”, I remark.

“ That’s because I started going bald at age sixteen—some illness I had”, he explains. He lifts the fedora up. Bald as the proverbial bowling ball. Grinning, he replaces the hat. “Lose too much heat without it”, he says.

Thanking him for his time, shaking hands, Art asks, “What was your name again?”

I supply my name, adding, “Valerie Langer’s mother. You know Val don’t you?”

He registers surprise. “Well, so you’re Valerie’s mom. She’s the protestor, isn’t she?” his tone not so much a question as a statement.

“ Activist”, I respond. Then Art speaks again, endearing himself to me forever.

“ Well, well, well, so you’re Val’s mother. She did the right thing you know. They would have cut everything. Really slowed them down, she did.”

And this time, he wasn’t kidding around.

Shirley Langer describes herself as a woman about town with a well developed civic consciousness.

Tofino Profiles

Tofino Time Magazine February 2005

tofino | tofino time | activities | accommodation | events | directory
maps | travel | food | art & artists | photos | horoscope | tides
search | magazine | issues | articles | advertising | contact us

hosted in tofino by & studio tofino
© 2002-2014 copyright Tofino Time Magazine in Tofino Canada
© 2002-2011 Tofino Time Magazine & ThinkTank Design Inc.

Tofino profile of Art Clarke. Art was born in 1940 and lived at Hot Springs cove near Tofino until 1975. He now lives in Tofino, where he runs a B&B.

tofino time february 2005

quick links:
tofino accomodations
tofino calendar

tofino surf report
tofino horoscope
september horoscope
tofino map
tofino fishing report
tofino tides
tofino weddings

tofino events:
tofino concerts
tofino events
tofino movies
tofino festivals
tofino yoga classes

tofino time magazine:
tofino time september 2012
captain vincente tofino
readers choice: the best of tofino
floating gardens at freedom cove
tofino event listings for september 2012
tofino concerts in september 2012
tofino movies in september 2012
tofino tide table for september 2012
tofino surf reports for september 2012
cox bay | wickaninnish beach
chesterman beach
tonquin beach
tofino brewing co.
horoscope for april 2013
tofino wedding guide

tofino accommodation:
tofino cabin
tofino camping
bed & breakfasts in Tofino
tofino hostels
tofino motels
tofino hotels
tofino vacation rentals
petfriendly accommodation

tofino bike rentals
tofino bear watching
tofino bird watching
tofino boat charters & cruises
tofino fishing
hot springs cove
sea kayaking in tofino
tofino storm watching
tofino surfing
tofino whale watching
tofino yoga

tofino art galleries
tofino books
tofino boutiques & gift shops
food stores in tofino
tofino outfitters

tofino yoga, spa & wellness
tofino restaurants
tofino internet cafes
tofino travel & transportation
tofino real estate
tofino vacation rentals
tofino weddings

tofino events
tofino concerts
tofino movies
tofino calendar
tofino cabins
tofino maps
tofino jobs
tofino media