Bob Tyrrell was born in the Peace River country in 1948 but raised on the coast. His self-published 1984 guide, Island Pubbing (Orca Books), co-written with Boyd Corrigan, helped Tyrrell make the switch from being a high school English teacher to operating Orca Books, as did The Pubs of B.C. (Orca, 1986), co-authored with Jane Seyd. Tyrrell is also credited as co-author of his company's tenth title, Rumrunner: The Life and Times of Johnny Schnarr, a bestseller about Johnny Schnarr's remarkably smooth sailing for 12 years as a Prohibition rumrunner, co-written with Marion Parker. Schnarr stayed out of trouble mostly by designing and building some of the fastest boats on the coast.

Tyrrell has primarily been the owner and publisher of Orca Books, a Victoria-based publishing company, founded in 1984, that has increasingly specialized in books for children, as of the early 1990s, after its picture book Waiting for the Whales received a Governor General's Award and the company simultaneously received Publisher of the Year honours. In 2006, on behalf of his company and its new co-owner Andrew Wooldridge, Tyrrell accepted the Jim Douglas Award from the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia. On hand to present the award, Douglas cited his peers when he said, "If Jack McClelland and John Gray could see the list of Orca Books they would be gobsmacked!"

When Bob Tyrell rescinded full ownership control of his company to his former employee Andrew Wooldridge in January of 2017, Orca Books had more than 850 titles in print and was producing more than 80 new titles a year from Victoria, augmented by a distribution warehouse in Ferndale, WA.

[BCBW 2017] "Publishing" "Advice"