People of the Sound - John Grice

John Grice first came to Tofino in 1891 with his son Arthur. He was not one of the earliest European settlers to homestead in Clayoquot Sound, though he was the first pioneers to buy pre-emptions on the Esowista Peninsula, before the town of Tofino was established.

Photo courtesy of Ken Gibson Collection. 

He traveled to the area from Newcastle-upon-Tyne (a.k.a. Newcastle) England. He pre-empted land that encompassed the present day Monks property, which was formerly Načiks. In 1912 his wife Jane joined them. By then, he had built a house where the Whaler’s on the Point International Hostel is presently. He and Jacob Arnet developed the first town plan for the end of the Peninsula. Grice Road, downtown, is named after him.

Photo courtesy of Ken Gibson Collection. 

Grice was fluent in Chinook Jargon, a trade language that combined many different languages throughout the Pacific Northwest as well as first languages of settlers. This made him qualified for an especially qualified candidate for facilitating communication between sealing schooner captains and Nuu-chah-nulth hunters.

Grice bought many other properties over the years, including areas on the mudflats side of the peninsula, just south of the Cox Bay info center. He rented it to some of the first Nikkei (Japanese Canadian) families that arrived in the 1920s.

Grice died in 1934 and his Jane died three days later.

To learn more about the Grice family, join us on one of our Saturday morning walking tours.

Sources: Margaret Horsfield and Ian Kennedy, Tofino and Clayoquot Sound: A History, Madiera Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2014.

Adrienne Mason and Marion Syme, Historic Tofino: A Walking Tour, Tofino, BC: Postelsia Press.