Our story begins with the property, which Shearwater is located, being a former Second World War RCAF base, which housed over 1000 men and aircraft that patrolled the expansive coast of central British Columbia. In 1947 a large portion of that property was sold to Andrew Widsten, a visionary young man, whose Norwegian family fist settled in Bella Coola. As a former officer of the RCAF and savvy businessman with an intimate knowledge of the area, Andrew recognized the need to establish a dedicated marine services business in this strategic location. For the next 20 years, Andrew developed the business and community delivering essential services to the area.
In 1967 Andrew and his wife Jean retired and the Shearwater assets were purchased by their son Craig Widsten, who over the next 50 years guided and nurtured the growth of the family business and surrounding community. Craig shared his fathers’ vision and worked tirelessly to expand and grow the business to its present-day company: a full-service marine operation and resort community.
Shearwater has been serving the Central Coast of British Columbia.
Craig is a true entrepreneur and risk-taker who developed this remote coastal business/community through sheer determination and optimism. With the support of a devoted wife, children, and grandchildren, he has assembled a dedicated staff over the years who shared his determination to succeed. He has led the company in many different pursuits, with each endeavor designed to strengthen the business while creating a comfortable, pleasant community for staff and their families.
Being a WW2 veteran, it was always Andrew Widsten’s ambition to establish a war memorial at Shearwater. Craig was able to fulfill his father’s wish by creating the “United in History” celebration on July 6, 2013. The major ceremony featured a 120 foot locally crafted mural that recognizes the regional history and harmonious relationship with the Heiltsuk First Nation. More than 500 people attended the celebration including Heiltsuk Nation Elders, relatives, dignitaries, government officials, RCMP and an RCAF contingent from Comox. The Mural recognizes the timeless historic and cultural dominance of the Heiltsuk Nation and the unique relationship that evolved between the First Nations and the incoming settlers to the region. We at Shearwater value that special relationship that continues to exist today.
In recent years, Craig stepped down from his role as President to focus on major capital projects and to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors. In 2018 the company appointed Craig’s daughter, Tracy Macdonald, to serve as the new president. She has surrounded herself with a bright new management team to develop and bring in fresh ideas to help take Shearwater forward. The team has a deep sense of community and exceptional customer service and a shared vision for Shearwater, Denny Island and Bella Bella moving into the future.
Today, Shearwater is a thriving small resort town, fully integrated marine service center and outstanding tourist destination on the Central Coast. The company has over 100 employees and is the largest independent employer in the region. Shearwater has grown to become a regional service and supply center, providing water taxi services, freight service, a fuel center, grocery store, hardware store, and a post office. As well, it has become a thriving tourism destination offering accommodations, a large restaurant & bar, coastal wilderness tours, and a sportfishing business.
This is our story. The Shearwater story.