How a B.C. man named Oyster Jim built a world-renowned travel destination with his bare hands

Click to play video: 'New trail draws tourists to Ucluelet'
New trail draws tourists to Ucluelet
Kylie Stanton meets the man who built a wilderness trail that attracts tourists from all over the world to Ucluelet on Vancouver Island – May 2, 2018

A newly refurbished Wild Pacific Trail near Ucluelet is providing a big boost to the local economy.

The trail, a largely handmade eight-kilometre stretch along the west coast of Vancouver Island, exists largely because of one man.

Originally from the U.S., Oyster Jim Martin moved to the area in 1979. As he explored the area looking for coastal fishing holes, he wanted to develop a trail so others could enjoy the region’s beauty.

After years of work, the Wild Pacific Trail opened in 1999.

“I’m very fortunate to be somewhat of an artist and have a palette like this,” Martin said.

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It’s a project that is still a work in progress, he says.

“I design, lay out the trail and oversee construction. Now, it’s just locating potential and then going in and exposing it.”

What started as a passion project now welcomes more than 1-million visitors each year.

“We encounter people from all over the world,” trail promoter Lance Blackwell said. “It’s a visceral experience for them when they see gigantic waves hitting the cliffs and exploding into the air.

“It’s an amazing experience for most people, something that they weren’t really expecting.”

The trail’s popularity has been a boon for Ucluelet, a town that has often lived in the shadow of nearby Tofino.

“It’s different and we’re enhancing what we have here,” Ucluelet Parks and Recreation director Abby Fortune said. “And I think the Wild Pacific Trail has more than showcased what we have in Ucluelet.”

And none of it would’ve been possible if it weren’t for Oyster Jim.

With drive and determination, he turned his dream into a masterpiece for the world to enjoy.

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“It’s a thrill of a lifetime,” he said.

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