Special to The Morning Star
What do you get when you cross a former gravel pit manager and hospital orderly who has a penchant for all things outdoors with an energetic spouse who just happens to be an accomplished artist and loves to entertain?
Meet Ron and Ines Stone, owners of Big Bear ATV Canoe and Kayak, a company that offers a taste of the rural Lumby backcountry to those who seek a different kind of adventure.
Ron worked in a hospital environment for many years, teaching him the now-so-valuable skills of dealing with many different mind sets.
He admits he gave a big part of his soul to those he met in the hospital and he believed his love for the outdoors would further give him an opportunity to share his enthusiasm and love of life with others.
“I cut my teeth at the hospital,” he said.
“I learned how to make sick people smile. This is my way of giving back to folks who want the best outdoor experience possible.”
Ines shares Ron’s love for people and she shares her passion for life through her artwork.
In fact, with help from his father, Ron built a cabin on their 300-acre family ranch so Ines could entertain their clients and showcase her artwork.
The walls of the little log cabin are adorned with life-like paintings of northern Italy and France, as well as pieces of driftwood from the Shuswap River, which after Ines has had her way, resemble a sort of morphed snake/dragon.
Ron admits he’s not a carpenter but he wanted to build a special destination for their ATV business and Ines’ artwork.
He began the project two years ago, and it quickly became an obsession, pulling dead-standing tamarack wood from the steep forest floor to the homestead, where he would spend long hours through the winter months hand-carving 40 logs with his draw knife.
The result today is a blend of cappuccino bar and art gallery, which Ron and Ines have dubbed Big Bear’s Sleddog Room and Espresso Bar.
The cabin is made almost entirely of recycled materials and is chinked with organic stone wool, which will make the cabin cool in the summer and warm during the winter.
The two-by-12-inch planks make for a solid flooring and give it that modern-day saloon feeling, but Ines likes to think it’s more of a Bavarian style rustic cabin.
The cabin will also allow clients to settle down for an espresso, or clients can be treated to a specially catered lunch for an afternoon, or a sit-down, western-style barbecue dinner.
“We want this to be an exclusive place for people to gather,” said Ines.
“We will cater to all needs and we want this to be a place for people to remember.”
Surrounded by the rolling Lumby mountains in a valley carved out by glaciers millions of years ago, and only minutes from the Village of Lumby, it is a get-away where one can forget themselves, where gathering for the sake of gathering is still remembered and celebrated.
Ron’s extension of Big Bear ATV is to provide a professional tour of his family ranch, the forestry range and onward to a lake.
Clients can drive an all-terrain vehicle if they are a minimum of 16 years of age, but Ron ensures everyone has had a lesson on safety before they set out, no matter their age.
And clients are of all ages, men and women, and hail from all over the world.
“We cater to local and international clientele,” said Ron.
“We’ve had visitors from Saudi Arabia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the far East. We have no barriers here”.
Many fathers and sons will go on a tour as a kind of bonding experience, and Ron admits he receives many repeat customers because people seem to like his easy-going style.
Big Bear’s prepared meals are a draw too.
And they incorporate ingredients from local vendors, including Cherryville’s Triple Island Cheese Ida’s Bakery in Lumby and the Mediterranean Market in Vernon.
“I make sure our clients have the best meal possible on their tour,” said Ines.
“We make a get down and dirty, stick-to-your-ribs sandwich — layers of roast beef on a huge cheese bun, with slices of organic Swiss cheese, topped off with bread and butter pickles or tomatoes grown from my garden.”
Ines can also offer a more delicate afternoon of coffee and chocolate-raspberry truffles.
“We will cater to whatever our clients desire,” she said. “This is about our client’s experience and we want clients to come back, again and again.”