Life in a small coastal town can call for some moonlighting –  or even taking on multiple roles in the case of John and Jennifer Forde. It seems only fitting, as they met years ago (though they wouldn’t reveal quite how many years) on the set of a play at Tofino’s community theatre.

The owner-operator of The Whale Centre since 1997, John is also who we consider to be the face of wildlife rescue on Vancouver’s Island’s west coast.  He and a team from the Strawberry Island Marine Research Society have rescued a number of entangled whales and in 2013, John freed a black bear cub trapped under a heavy rock – in the presence of momma bear.  We’ve also encountered John on duty as a volunteer firefighter (not that we’ve had any false fire alarms at the Tourism Tofino office at all)…

While John is often dressed for the high seas, you may recognize Jennifer by her signature high heels.  She manages an active social media presence for The Whale Centre, in addition to her work as the director of Tofino’s iconic Eagle Aerie Gallery and champion of the local arts scene.  When she’s not out and about with daughters Ruby and Phoebe, Jennifer also acts as the President of the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce.  She’s recently been nominated for a Top 20 Under 40 award, recognizing business and community leaders throughout Vancouver Island.

The Fordes make time on the water a family affair.  Ruby and Phoebe are already veteran whale watchers at the tender ages of 7 and 5 and can positively identify some of the transient orcas (killer whales) by their features when they swim through Clayoquot Sound.  The girls still talk about their 2013 visit from National Geographic’s Casey Anderson, who was guided by John for his America the Wild:  Monster Wolf episode.  Recently, Ruby witnessed eaglets learning to fly under the watchful eye of adult eagles – while on her stand-up paddle board.  That’s a slice of life in Tofino, where nature is literally at your doorstep.



Updated Highway 4 Road Closure Schedule at Kennedy Hill