A Sourdough on the Sunshine Coast: The Land of the Rain People
We cast away lines from the Shearwater dock and head inland, northeast along the great shoreline of British Columbia, Canada.
I am forever in awe of this country that is my home. A fresh breeze riffles the surface of the sea and blows away the horror that clings to me still. A bereaved father left the burden of his grief with me as he recounted the nightmare of losing his daughter to the demons on the Picton Farm. I physically ‘wash’ my hands over my arms to rid myself of this cloak of sadness. My hair begins to flutter in the breeze and I can feel it blowing away the last of the cloying terror that he left me with. The sun shines brightly, the anxiety of his story is being carried far and away to sea. I am happy to let it go.
The Captain steers us down the tail of Seaforth Channel and squeezes between Denny and Cunningham Islands. Whale song booms across the water, and echoes high in mountain ranges. A cougar is sighted slinking along the tree line on the shores of Cunningham Island. We do not see the big cat, but deep in the soft muck of the shore we find paw prints that prove this is not just another cougar in the mists story. We are wary, staying close to our tender, ready to jump aboard and ‘roar’ off under paddle power should the Canadian Lion decide we look like dinner.
Ocean Falls is known as the land of the Rain People for good reason, it is drenched with 4,390 mm of precipitation per year.
Located 440 kilometers north of Vancouver at the head of Cousins Inlet off of Dean Channel, it is a community slowly composting back into the rainforest of the West Coast.
I have lost contact with my cousin, Lynn Fletcher Marcellus. We hoped against all odds to finally meet up with her at Ocean Falls this year. Her husband Terry is a born again West Coaster. He runs away at any chance to fish and live life on the Coast as it should be, no worries, no hurries. Cell service is sporadic and frankly we have switched on ‘Ocean time’ that equates to ‘when we get there, we get there.’
Hoping we see them, but understanding that there are other schedules going on in the outside world besides ours.
Sun shining through clouds is a beacon over the community of Ocean Falls. There is lots of room at the local dock. A small yellow house floats dockside, from afar we can’t tell if it is the Wharfinger office, a restaurant, or someone’s home. Sitting outside two people are basking in the sunshine. This ex-northener totally gets it, absorbing the rays is not an option, it is a necessary life force. Years of long winter nights has left me with a thirst for life giving rays, not an option, a thirst.
Mooring the Starduster is a piece of cake for the Captain. Our crew of two managed the Audrey Eleanor with her 54’ and 30 tonnage for many years (no bow thrusters) this deep keeled sailboat will turn on a dime, such a pleasure I must say! I am no longer in terror of landing the boat. With a secure boat, we start down the dock to see what this piece of rainforest heaven has to offer. The Captain is looking to set his crab traps. The two guys at the yellow house are chatting in the sun, sipping on beers watching us approach, smiles on their faces.
Squinting into the sun the older gentleman sticks out his hand. With a huge gummy smile he introduces himself as ‘Nearly Normal Norman Brown’. He is the official welcoming committee for Ocean Falls. The other gentleman is my cousin Lynn’s husband Terry! Terry has been expecting us ‘sometime’ this summer. Pretty cool!
Rick is given the location for the best place to drop his traps, he heads out and I stick around to BS with the boys.
Lynn and family had to return to Alberta and the realties of life with horses. When I suggested a while back that they just give up and move to the Coast, it was the horses that road-blocked the idea. My suggestion of sea horses as a substitute for the equine breed was met with incredulity. I thought it was worth a try. I understand the draw of the sea, like breathing air it is necessary to some people.
Maybe those of us with this affliction were the last to climb out of the salty brine and crawl into evolution. I don’t know why, but I do know the tidal pull of the ocean.
I am very sorry to have missed you Lynn. With the beers flowing freely we decide we should eat something before we have difficulty navigating the dock. Rick has gone to check the traps for crabs. Terry has Lynn’s famous recipe for crab cakes, which is to be the main and only course for dinner this night. Rick returns with the largest ‘Dungies’ that we have seen in sometime, the crab cracking begins and the feast will follow. Beer and crab cakes, moon shining on swelling sea, stars touch the tops of the mountains and twinkle with joy. Our hearts are light with new friends and family found in Ocean Falls.
Morning is followed with mist. Nearly Normal Norman is taking us for the official town tour today. Terry is flogging the waters for fish today; he has given us use of his truck. I wonder what lengths it takes to get a truck to Ocean Falls? Norman has a museum. He proudly shows us his incredible collection of memorabilia. It is an amazing accomplishment. The town has set up a hotel of sorts to accommodate travellers who need shelter, very comfortable. It is the people here who are so very comfortable, this place overflows with that small community pulling together for the good of all.
Rick Cousins is amused at the concept of an Inlet carrying his last name. We walk most of the town in short order. Large apartment buildings are being overtaken with blackberry vines, cars and boats are lined up along the streets, creeping edges of jungle reclaim what was theirs to begin with. (maybe Terry’s truck is a salvaged forgotten vehicle) Small trees grow up through truck beds, huge papery grey wasp nests dangle like earrings off the bow of a boat. Concrete staircases have become waterfall courses spilling out onto the broken asphalt.
A gap in the dam creates a beautiful 60-foot waterfall. A neat little fishing ship is stranded at the top end of the dam. Tucked in just behind the concrete with its bow pointed towards escape over the falls, we wonder how it managed to be in this location? If the crumbling concrete wall of the dam continues to fall away the fishing boat will most definitely be Ocean bound.
My Realtor personality kicks in as I survey the buildings and structures on the edge of permanent decay. People are moving here and buying the rock bottomed priced real estate. At one time living in a cabin in the mountains, or on a secluded Island were my ideals. Now I like a bit vibrancy and social life, I admit it, I like people! So what could breathe life to Ocean Falls and its small community of characters? Yes, there are characters living outside of the Yukon as well.
Rick and I are amazed at the amount of untapped energy spilling over the causeway and roaring out to sea. Makes for good crab beds, but think of what harnessing that power could do! With the legalization of Marijuana seemingly just around the corner it is a no-brainer. What a spot to construct massive ‘grow shows’ as they are known on the Sunshine Coast. Heck, most of the infrastructure is already in place.
This is a place of seclusion, easily monitored for security.
I am not sure about all of you; at this time in my life there is an epidemic of cancer, MS and all types of autoimmune diseases afflicting my family and friends. I am not an imbiber of marijuana, it was not available in the northern communities where I grew up, I never acquired a ‘taste’ for it. But I am a supporter of medicine that does not threaten to stop your heart or kill your kidneys as a side effect.
How about preventive brain radiation, just in case you grow a brain tumour, it will leave you with no long-term memory… you are alive but don’t know who you are!
Walking and talking may not be an option either. I am always interested in information that supports any natural cure that is not just a mask for pain or an excuse for escape. I have been researching the curing qualities of MM. There are many natural medicines that have curative properties as well. And what about the great big concept of PREVENTION, how about living lives that are healthy to begin with?
The thoughts of growing medicine in a deserted community that has the infrastructure to support a world-class operation, breathes life and hope on so many levels. Not revolution, Evolution.
Looking for more adventures of the Sourdough on the Sunshine Coast? See them all here.