Although I have visited the Haig-Brown House several times, I was never fully aware of the true peacefulness of the former home of the Haig-Brown family until I spent a night there. The Museum at Campbell River oversees management of the house and property on behalf of the City of Campbell River. As a Museum employee, I have often been there to participate in the Haig-Brown Festival, the Writer in Residence Open House and simply to visit the site manager. This year’s site manager for the summer Bed and Breakfast season is Sandra Chow, and when she asked if I could look after the House and her guests for one night and a day, and I was more than happy to do so.
The experience of dealing with guests in the house was very stimulating, but a true understanding of what the House represents comes when one has time to be alone there and to explore. Writers in Residence have commented over the years that they were very productive while at the house over the winter months, and I can see why. When you are there at night, a peace descends over the house that is accompanied only by the constant burbling sound of the river making its way to the nearby sea, and the sound of the wind in the trees. I slept extremely well, and woke up feeling refreshed, and could understand how inspiration would be soon to follow.
During the day, once the B&B guests were on their way, I explored the various pathways around the house, fully taking in the true expanse of the property. There are several places where one can access the river, and on the day I was there, a fisherman was standing in his waders in the middle of the river evoking pictures of Roderick Haig-Brown enjoying his favourite pastime. Having read stories about the Haig-Brown family (see left) and their animals, I quite expected the barn and milk cow to appear and almost fell sorry that they were no longer there. The house and surroundings in fact, reminded me very much of the house and farm that belonged to my grandparents, who owned 40 acres with about 10 cows, chickens and a pony and a substantial orchard and garden. Perhaps a large part of my experience was nostalgia and I was grateful to the insight of those who chose to restore the House to the era of the Haig-Brown family occupation which coincided with the early years of my growing up.
The House is very simple and the décor plain but tasteful. Anyone staying there would not have to worry if they forgot their book, because there are several on hand to read. The view outside is of greenery and colourful flowers, and here and there you can peak at the river through the trees. Another asset of the House is its location – it is an excellent jumping off point to go off exploring the Campbell River area either by carrying on down the Gold River Highway west towards Strathcona Provincial Park, heading south to Mt. Washington, going north to Sayward or Telegraph Cove, or east into the heart of the city itself. There is a very popular hiking trail that skirts the Campbell River just minutes away from the House, and the majestic Elk Falls with its network of trails is not far away. And of course, fishing is at your doorstep.
To inquire about staying at the Haig-Brown House, call 250-286-4464 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Bed and Breakfast runs from May to October.
All photos are courtesy of the Museum at Campbell River