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Clarke Gourlay, a regional director for Nanaimo and the founder of Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, died Saturday in a hiking accident in Strathcona Park.

His death was announced Monday in a Facebook post from the company he started.

"Eighteen years ago a man with an enormous vision and a wild dream decided to start a business in an industry he knew nothing about and had never experienced," wrote Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and Mooberry Winery.

"He lost his life in a hiking accident in Strathcona Park, where he loved to pursue his passion for mountaineering."

Gourlay was elected director of Regional District of Nanaimo Area G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum) in October 2018.

Gourlay also served as treasurer of the Alpine Club of Canada's Vancouver Island section.

Matthew Lettington, president of local mountaineering club Island Mountain Ramblers, said Gourlay died from a fall while climbing down Mount Donner.

"While route-finding in foul weather he found himself off-route, Clarke slipped as he attempted to downclimb some wet fourth-class terrain," Lettington wrote in a letter to club members.

"With the height of the fall, and the resulting tumble down steep terrain, he died without suffering."

A memorial service will be held Friday from 10 a.m. to noon at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks at 403 Lowrys Road in Parksville.

In lieu of flowers, friends and family ask that donations be made to Campbell River Search and Rescue.