The Richter Family
The Richter family has owned, operated, and lived at Blind Channel since 1970. In that time, Blind Channel Resort has gained a reputation for delicious food, creative artwork, and outstanding customer service.
Blind Channel Resort is a full-service marina resort on West Thurlow Island on Canada’s Pacific Coast, located just north of Desolation Sound, en route for boaters heading to and from Alaska and the Broughton Archipelago and for salmon heading to their streams--or, more precisely, 50 24. 82 N, 125 30. 00 W.
Edgar Richter and his wife, Annemarie, originally found the property for sale while cruising the coast in a 30-foot boat that Edgar had built. After much deliberation, they decided to sell their comfortable home in East Vancouver and move their family to remote West Thurlow Island. There were a few tumbledown shacks on the property and very little in the way of creature comforts. However, Edgar was a skilled designer and an experienced builder, and he had a vision. It took two years just to clean the place up, and then the family started to build. Annemarie was a prolific artist, and she left her mark on everything. “I build things and Annemarie makes them beautiful,” Edgar once said. Their combination of talents has inspired generations of boaters.
Edgar and Annemarie brought three of their four children, aged 10 to 20, to Blind Channel with them, as well as Annemarie’s parents, who were already retired and living with them in Vancouver. Edgar and Annemarie’s son Phil decided to make Blind Channel his permanent home, and he and his wife, Jennifer, eventually became partners in the business. Phil and Jennifer raised two sons, Eliot and William, at Blind Channel, putting them through correspondence education for many years. Phil and Jennifer’s eldest son, Eliot, is now carrying on the tradition and raising his own two children, Jonah and Charlotte, at Blind Channel.
There are currently four generations of the Richter family living at Blind Channel, and they continue to work as hard as ever to share this beautiful part of the coast with you.
A Brief History of Blind Channel
“After we had proceeded about ten miles from Point Chatham, the tide made so powerfully against us as obliged us about breakfast time to become again stationary in a bay (Knox Bay) on the northern shore in 32 fathoms of water. The land under which we anchored was a narrow island which I distinguished by the name of Thurlow Island.” - Captain George Vancouver, 16th July, 1792
And so the island received its white man’s name, after a Lord Chancellor of England. It was later discovered that Thurlow consists of two islands, and the narrow passage between them was given the name Blind Channel, perhaps because Captain Vancouver had missed it. We can forgive him this oversight, for many a mariner has since roared past and wondered later where the turn-off was. The channel was later renamed Mayne Passage, but the community which formed on the east end of West Thurlow Island was stuck with the name Blind Channel.
By 1910, the Thurlow Island Lumber Company sawmill was established at Blind Channel, and the surviving directory lists nine lumbermen, six woodsmen, a blacksmith, and a mill manager. Notches in the sides of big old stumps scattered here and there remind us today of the woodsmen labouring with bucksaws, and the wide shoes of workhorses attest to the method of delivery to the mill.
By 1918, the population had grown to 120, with Union Steam Ship freight and passenger boats stopping regularly, and for the next few decades the area bustled with activity. Blind Channel was home to a cannery, a shingle mill, and two large dance halls. The area continued to attract people looking for opportunity and an independant way of life, with the population peaking in the 1940s.
In the 1930s, nine bootleggers were competing in Blind Channel, mostly providing their own distillations with a very high alcohol content, if not the most refined flavour. For those who preferred the taste and guaranteed safety of the approved product, two of them specialized in government booze.
In the ensuing decades, the area felt the same inexorable pressures of centralization influencing the rest of the industrial world, and one by one the families moved out. By the summer of 1969, when the Richter family was cruising in the area, an elderly couple (the Gisslens) owned the property. They ran a general store in the front half of the former cannery foreman’s home, and lived in the back.
A boardwalk hugged the water between the store and a small government dock, where passing boaters could top up their fuel by having it hand-pumped from a barrel. Signs of the area’s recent history rusted along the shore and rotted in the encroaching brush and forest. Still, there was a secluded peacefulness, the ever-changing rapids flowing past, the mountains reflecting the afternoon sun. Captivated, the Richters moved up from Vancouver, took down the For Sale sign, and began the long, slow task of creating the resort which stands here today.