The family of a Qualicum Beach man was devastated this week when his remote fishing lodge north of Campbell River suffered $10,000 in theft and extensive damage, even as the man struggles through the late stages of a battle with terminal cancer.
Cordero Lodge, located just across Cordero Channel from East Thurlow Island, had been put up for sale last year, around the time that 72-year-old Lorrie Tanguay was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
“Whoever did this obviously didn’t understand the amount of damage they caused,” said Ken Tanguay, Lorrie’s son. “We hope maybe we can salvage the sale by fixing the property, so our mom won’t have the burden of multiple mortgages.”
Lorrie Tanguay is at home under palliative nursing care, his son said. He added the family has not shared the news of the theft and damage with their father.
“He’s always been a fighter,” Ken Tanguay said. “But I think hearing this would just suck the last bit of energy out of him.”
Sayward RCMP are seeking information into the break-in, theft and vandalism. Some of the items taken include a large solid brass eagle statue, fishing gear, crab and prawn traps, generators, chain saws, industrial meat slicer, solar panels, water turbine and two long-barrelled firearms.
The mooring lines to the floating lodge were then cut and the buildings were left adrift, said Ken Tanguay, who estimated total losses and damage at about $30,000.
The damage was discovered Sunday morning by Shaun Tinney, a friend of Tanguay’s who has been travelling back and forth from his full-time job in Parksville to look in on the lodge while it is closed in the off-season.
“We just want to get the word out that there’s pirates out there,” said Tinney. “People don’t think there’s pirates on our coast, but they’re out there.”
Wayne Grono, Tanguay’s business partner, had spent the previous winter living at the lodge, said Tinney. But Grono suffered a stroke and remains in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area except for occasional visits with Tinney. The lodge complex, which includes a restaurant/bar and convenience store, was unoccupied at the time of the break-in.
Ken Tanguay said he believed more than one person was involved, as some of the stolen items would have been too large for a single person to handle. He was also mystified at what was left behind, including large-screen televisions and a fully stocked bar.
“It almost seems like somebody looking to live off the grid,” Tanguay said, noting the theft of the solar panels, generator and a tidal-energy generator. “They took jerry cans for gas and even frying pans.”
RCMP said the break-in occurred sometime between Jan. 19 and 29. Tanguay believes it took place either Thursday or Friday last week, as the realtor involved with the listing visited Tuesday, Jan. 24, to take an extensive collection of photos of the property — including aerial video footage.
Under supervision by the Canadian Coast Guard, Tinney lashed the bulk of the lodge to the shoreline temporarily. He and Ken Tanguay have been recruiting interested volunteers for a potential work crew, and Tinney said he was planning to travel back to the lodge Wednesday night to prepare for the work ahead.
“I want to snap a whole bunch of pictures and take measurements of what needs to be replaced and built,” Tinney said. “The gangway is completely destroyed, and we’re gonna need a 400-foot piece of two-and-a-half inch braided rope to get everything secured in place again.”
The lodge is only accessible by boat and is 30 minutes to an hour away from the Browns Bay and Rock Bay boat Launches. Tanguay said his father, a former tugboat captain, commercial fisherman and one-time owner of a marine shipping business, purchased the property in May of 2015 both as a business and a retirement getaway.
“This was his dream,” said Tanguay. “When he learned he was sick he said, ‘I like this place. I’d rather sell my house in Qualicum and move up here.”
The family has set up a Go Fund Me page, with donations going to materials, repairs, replacement of goods and equipment stolen in the theft. It is also asking for trades people willing to donate time to join a work party to help rescue the lodge so family members can remain near their father’s bedside.
Contact information and links can be found through the Cordero Lodge Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CoderoLodge.
Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call the Sayward RCMP at 250-282-5522, or place an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is completely anonymous and pays up to $2,000 for information received.