Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Brothers who died on kayak trip were inseparable, say parents

Nicolas West was a carpenter who played in a local rock band called Electric Jane, while brother Daniel MacAlpine worked at an auto detailing shop and was adventurous, family say.
Daniel MacAlpine, left, and Nicolas West, at a cousin's wedding about 10 years ago. COURTESY JOHN WEST

There was 10-year age gap, but two brothers who died while kayaking from D’Arcy Island to Island View Beach last weekend were inseparable, their parents said Friday.

“They were always so sweet together. Nick was three or four years old, and I would wake up in the morning and both of them would be already out there on the trampoline,” said mother Michele West.

Last Saturday, Daniel MacAlpine, 36, and Nicolas West, 26, kayaked out to D’Arcy Island to see the former leper colony site.

Daniel, who worked at an auto detailing shop in downtown ­Victoria, was adventurous and liked to explore historic sites, said stepdad John West.

After arriving at D’Arcy Island, Daniel sent a text to his mother saying that they were leaving at 2:15 p.m.

Nicolas sent a similar text to his partner, Anika Rai, saying that he was going to pack up his phone.

“He asked what I wanted to do for dinner later,” Rai said.

The family was tracking the brothers’ whereabouts using phone location data, and things seemed fine at first, Michele said.

“They had used the kayak for other smaller adventures, but not quite as far as that trip,” said John.

But when a strong wind blew through their Duncan home, Michele had a bad feeling.

When the brothers failed to turn up, John called the RCMP.

“And things [started] going immediately.”

Their empty teal blue kayak was found on Henry Island the next day, about five kilometres northeast of D’Arcy Island.

Police, search and rescue crews, and the Canadian Coast Guard were deployed in a cross-border search for the brothers, whose bodies were later found in the waters off San Juan Island.

Michele said the family is still in disbelief over the loss.

“Losing two boys, poof, just like that.”

Born to a fifth-generation Cowichan family, Daniel and Nicolas grew up in Duncan along with their brother, Sam.

Daniel went to Brentwood College in Mill Bay, while ­Nicolas attended Cowichan ­Secondary School in Duncan.

Daniel moved to Victoria after turning 18 and graduated from the University of V­ictoria with a bachelor of fine arts in 2016. He had wanted to be a journalist at one point, said Michele.

He also enjoyed fishing with his father, Doug MacAlpine, John said.

Nicolas joined his brother in Victoria a few years later, where he met Rai. The two planned on getting married and starting a family, Rai said. “He saw us getting old together.”

Nicolas worked as a carpenter and was a drummer and lead singer for Electric Jane, a local rock band. He also liked to golf, hike and spend time with his friends, Michele said.

Nicolas was due to perform with his band on Sunday, she said.

Daniel, who played guitar, would occasionally join in for jams with his brother, she said.

Nicolas visited his parents in Duncan every weekend, John said.

Michele said that Daniel had recently moved back home after his separation from a long-term partner and a fire in his Bay Street building.

“Looking back at it, nothing better could have happened to me,” she said. “At least I had him with me for the last five months.”

Daniel also had a life-long interest in art and made lots of drawings during his stay, Michele said.

Nicolas looked up to his older brother and the two were going to discuss during their D’Arcy trip how they might take over the family chimney-cleaning business some day, she said.

The family was close and tried to spend all their holidays together, said John, who also fondly remembers coaching Nicolas in baseball.Michele said the family has been moved by the outpouring of support that they’ve received since the news.

“I didn’t know that I knew so many nice people,” she said.

A service for the brothers is planned for May 11 at St. Edward’s Church in Duncan.

[email protected]