Grizzly Bears, Whales, & the Indigenous Culture of Echo Bay, BC

100% refund available if a BC Gov't travel ban is in effect due to COVID

Where: Haida Way Motel, Port McNeil (1 night) & Echo Bay Marina & Lodge (3 nights at the Green Roof Cabin), BC

Google Map Location

When: Sept 24-28, 2021

Who: For photographers wanting to explore & create images & video on the wild west coast of BC

Limited to 6-7 participants - (3 spots remaining)

Open to BC residents only

Dave Hutchison

2020 PPOC Best in Class Fine Art Winner

Matt Shannon

Owner: TrekWest Photography Company

Cost: $5,499 Cdn + 5% gst

Multi day workshops include 2 webinars

1) Trip planning, preparation, & packing - approx 1-1.5 hrs

2) Online image editing after the workshop - 2 hrs

Prior to booking, please call or email Dave at 250-655-1105 or dave at

Payment instructions are: e-transfer $1,000 + GST to to reserve your spot.  Balance can be paid by secure online credit card invoice which is sent directly to your email inbox.  Any private room fees are payable by e-transfer only.

Thank you very much for considering a workshop with Matt Shannon & myself for 2021.  I started my photography career 15 years ago and have had the privilege to explore and create images all over the BC coast.  I have done countless trips up and down the BC coast including three tours of the beautiful Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary north of Prince Rupert.  I also co-organized a workshop to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly in 2019 with long time friend of 25 years, Shane McDermott.  A highlight of my career was leading a successful workshop out of Klemtu, on the north central BC coast in search of the illusive Spirit Bear.  Those spirit bear images are still vivid in my mind today (yes, I photographed a spirit bear)!  I have also led over a half dozen workshops for marine life including orca whales and humpbacks. 

Over the last several months, Matt (my new workshop partner, Shane moved to Costa Rica) & I have researched several locations on the southern BC mainland coast that would provide a once in a lifetime opportunity where our clients can grow both personally and photographically.

I am very confident we have found the best location and the best guides at Coastal Rainforest Safaris & Sea Wolf Adventures based out of Echo Bay Marina & Lodge north of the Broughton Achipelago!  I visited the Broughtons once in 2010 and it is an outstanding area of BC.  You will not be disappointed!

If you have any questions, please email myself directly.

  • Untitled photo
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Wildlife Photos by Dave Hutchison that Matt & I will help YOU can make!

Testimonials about Dave ...

Dave is a highly qualified and experienced photographer. His knowledge of the Vancouver Island area allowed him to plan an experience that was second to none. Throughout he was always teaching and helping. The result was a experience from which I learned much about photography and the Vancouver Island coastal area.

Stu, Kelowna, BC

Dave provided an excellent workshop. He is passionate about his profession and photography and as a result, found him to be very engaging and interesting. Dave was clearly interested and willing to determine where your ability levels were at and encouraged you to take the next steps out of your comfort zones to learn and try new techniques. I also found Dave was very generous with his time one on one in the field. I look forward to future workshops with Dave.

Don C, Kelowna, BC

Images of Matt hard at work

  • Toba Inlet, BC Mainland coast, Canada
  • Matt Shannon from Trek West, North Saanich, Vancouver Island, BC Canada

Matt Shannon is an inspired nature and landscape photographer living on Vancouver Island. His images have captured an international audience and his artwork hangs in homes around the world. He has developed a keen eye for detail and a passion for striking images. He is an enthusiastic teacher and hosts regular workshops aimed at inspiring and equipping photographers.

From a young age Matt Shannon was captivated with the wild world around him. He grew up in a small town in New Brunswick where from a young age he would practice his survival skills camping in the dense forest. After high school Matt leapt out into the world, falling in love with traveling. He lived in South America, Asia and India and drove across North America 9 times. It was his exploration of new places that first inspired his love of photography.

Matt loved that the lens allowed him to share these new worlds with his friends and family back home. Matt still remembers his first trip to Vancouver Island 13 years ago when he spent the night on Mystic Beach on the Juan de Fuca trail. He fell in love with the rugged coastline, massive trees and the endless adventures Vancouver Island holds and has called the Island home ever since.

Matt’s photography is the product of his adventuresome heart - it’s the physical representation of his love for striking landscapes and beautiful natural creations. Today Matt continues to explore the west coast and capture compelling images to share.

Introduction to Echo Bay

We are the Kwakwaka’wakw, the Kwak´wala-speaking people, made up of 18 tribes whose territory reaches from what is now northern Vancouver Island southeast to the middle of the island, and to smaller islands and inlets such as Johnstone Strait.

Deeply connected to and physically and spiritually sustained by the animals, trees, and waters of this region, our rich culture has survived millennia and we are proud to introduce guests to our homeland and our communities.

Led by Sea Wolf Adventures’ owner Mike Willie, a proud member of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis people, our team of Indigenous expert guides introduce visitors to areas that we have called home for millennia. Alert Bay was one of several traditional Kwakwaka’wakw villages where our people were resettled and schooled by the government. Breaking free from the iron hand that came down on us in the form of residential schools and a Potlatch ban, each of our guides play an important role in keeping our culture alive today. “Potlatch is a way to carry out traditional governance for the people. A way to look after the old people,” explains Mike Willie. “Potlatch is a way to maintain intertribal connections, by dancing your masks, stories, and songs in front of other tribes to record our history. A way to carry forward teachings for the future generations.”

All our guides are culturally trained and very active in the Potlatches today; we are ceremonial leaders and take great pride in being able to teach and pass on the knowledge of our ancestors. We are active in exercising our traditional laws that protect our lands and waters for our future generations and we are honoured to share our beautiful home with visitors from around the globe.

Images from around Echo Bay by Mike Willie (our indigenous guide)

Indigenous powerhouse Mike Willie, owner of Sea Wolf Adventures, takes great pride in teaching and passing on the knowledge of his ancestors. As a ceremonial leader in Potlatches and a steward of the land, Mike and his team are active in exercising traditional laws that protect our land and water for future generations.

Mike grew up in the remote village of Kingcome Inlet and is a member of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation. He has been given the names, T’ɬaɬba’lisame’ (Breaching Whale and Leader) and T’ɬalis (Breaching Whale Around the World), celebrating his deep connection to the culture, the history, and the original land of his ancestors.

Mike has spent his life travelling the waters of the Broughton Archipelago as a route to his homeland and as a place to harvest food. Dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of his traditional culture and language, Mike devotes his time to research and spending time with Elders. Passionate about sharing historical information and traditional knowledge as a speaker, multimedia producer, and teacher, Mike learned the songs of his ancestors at a young age and is an active song keeper and composer. He is respected as a leader of ceremonies in the Potlatch and takes pride in being active in his culture. Mike also has a love for tourism and gets exciting to share his upbringing to guests from around the world; he loves being on the water showing guests the exciting wildlife and scenery!


Trip & Activity Information:

This five day, four nights workshop is best for those that are used to the outdoors.  We will be doing short hikes and may have to walk over rocks and other unstable surfaces.  However, we will also spend a fair amount of time photographing from the 27ft Zodiac on day 2 and the 31ft partially covered Mayumi on day 3 & 4.  Some bear viewing will be best on land but only when Mike says it is fine to do so.  Day 5, will be in either the Zodiac or the Mayumi.  If you have any questions about the physical activities, please email.


Day 1: Friday, Sept 24 - Arrive into Port McNeil by 1pm for 2 hour orientation.  Check-in to the Haida Way Motel around 3pm.  After dinner, we will have another orientation / Q & A period at 7pm.  This will include a slide show to get you excited about what is to come.  Note, meals are not included on Day 1.            

Day 2: Saturday, Sept 25 - Leave early morning (TBA) via 27ft Sea Wolf Zodiac for Echo Bay.  This day will be devoted to whales, dolphins, seas lions and more.  Note, you only need to have your camera gear on the Zodiac for this trip.  You other 1-2 bags of personal items will be transported to Echo Bay via the 31ft Mayumi.  Note, lunch and dinner are included on Day 2 (not breakfast).

Day 3: Sunday, Sept 26 - This day is devoted to the wonderful GRIZZLY BEARS of Thompson River, Bond Sound and any other locations the bears are found.  All meals are included on Day 3.  

Day 4: Monday, Sept 27 -  This day is devoted to the wonderful GRIZZLY BEARS of Thompson River, Bond Sound and any other locations the bears are found.  All meals are included on Day 3.  

Day 5, Tuesday, Sept 28 - After breakfast we will head out from Echo Bay Marina & Lodge in search of whales, dolphins & more.  We also have a few options for this day, some of which are a surprise.  You will not be disappointed.

What IS included:

- boat transportation to and from the Echo Bay Marina & Lodge from Port McNeil.

- parking fees incurred while parking your vehicle while at Haida Way Motel for the entire trip.

- any indigenous fees to enter their land

- lunch & dinner Day, all meals, Day 3 & 4, breakfast and lunch on Day 5

- Note, there is stable hydro at Echo Bay Lodge for charging camera batteries, etc., however, there is very limited internet service and no cell service.  Note the internet service will not be suitable for large file transfers or video streaming or video calling.

What is NOT included:

- first night at Haida Way Motor Inn is not included (Sept 24).  We are not permitted by law to book accommodations on behalf of clients.  There is a group rate for this hotel under "Dave Hutchison" for $106 + 15% taxes = $121.90

Please call the motel directly to book your first night say for the 5 day, 4 nights trip.

Haida-Way Motor Inn

Port McNeill B.C.

Phone: (250) 956-3373 

- meals on Day 1, breakfast on Day 2

- medical insurance is required for this remote access trip (read below before you register)

- trip cancellation / trip interruption insurance  

- transportation to and from Port McNeil

- your personal items and camera gear

What to bring:

- 2 x camera bodies is very beneficial, but 1 will do

- a video camera would be an added bonus

- 3-4 memory cards (depending on the sizes you have)

- laptop or external storage device (whale photography can accumulate images at a rapid rate)

- spare camera batteries

- mid range wide angle for landscape shots like a 24-70mm or 24-120mm (great for video too)

- mid range telephoto 70-200mm

- telephoto or zooms 80-400mm, 200-500mm, 180-400mm, 300mm f/2.8, 500mm f/4, etc. (most important for this trip)

- 1.4x teleconverter could be handy depending on your lens

- polarizer for landscape shots

- most of the wildlife photography will be handheld.  However, a tripod will be beneficial when we are on land viewing the bears and safe to do so. 

- camera bag with water proof cover

- camera lens cover (Aquatech or Think Tank Hydrophobia is recommended)

- several lens cloths

- water bottle

- water proof rain pants (we will photograph in the Great Bear "Rain" forest)

- water proof rain jacket (light one is good if you are layering with a few sweaters)

- light sweater(s)

(please dress in layers as it can be cool and warm at Echo Bay on the same day)

- hiking boots while on the Day 2-4 adventures 

- sandals or light runners while at the Lodge

- hat and or warm toque - waterproof

- sunscreen (can be bright on the water)

- pen and small note pad for camera bag

Note, synthetic or wool clothing is recommended - avoid cotton for clothes worn away from the lodge.

Other details:

*  Our intention is to offer two instructors on this trip (myself and Matt Shannon) and eight participants.  However, in the event of an unforeseen circumstance we can't guarantee two instructors.  If one of us is sick or injured, the workshop will proceed.

** Trip pricing is based on shared accommodations (double occupancy)

Payment & Cancellation Policy:

- 100% refund (less $300 + gst admin fee) available 14 days prior to the workshop start date (cancel cut off date is Sept 10, 2021).  The refund is available only if there is a BC Government imposed travel ban via the BC Government web site due to COVID.

If you cancel for another reason due to injury, sickness, etc. then your optional trip cancellation insurance would be in effect.

- $600 + gst admin fee imposed if cancellation is less than 14 days prior to the workshop start date (we get less money back from the tour operator).

- $1,000 + 5% GST place holder deposit to secure your spot.  

- balance due of $4,723.95 Aug 20, 2021 ($5,499 + 5% GST, less $1,000 + 5% GST deposit)

-  Payment instructions are: e-transfer $1,000 + GST to to reserve your spot. Balance can be paid by secure online credit card invoice which is sent directly to your email inbox. Any private room fees are payable by e-transfer only.

- medical insurance including wilderness evacuation (Global Rescue) is mandatory for all participants

- highly recommend trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance - PLEASE READ BELOW.

- a signed liability waiver is required by both Dave Hutchison Images & Matt Shannon Photography (one waiver for both), as well as, Coastal Rainforest Safaris & Sea Wolf Adventures.


as of Feb 23, 2021 we have re negotiated with our tour operators and trip cancel insurance for any reason including COVID is optional as a 100% refund is now available.

Please book your insurance at and click on the insurance icon to the right of the middle pop up window.  Or click this link  The igoinsured link has been erratic lately.  If this is still the case, please call Mike directly at the number provided below.  Also, the insurance does not have to be purchased through Tailwind Travel, just our suggestion and who we have aligned with.    

Mike Gilmore

Tailwind Travel

o. 250 419 4544

c. 250 415 7665

Note, Matt & I are not qualified to consult on insurance.  We will direct you to call Mike.

* NOTE VERY IMPORTANT: The travel insurance including cancel for any reason must be purchased within 72 hours of your booking / deposit being made.  We CANNOT change this policy.  After your register, BUY your insurance.

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