I recently moved to Quadra Island, and I’m not sure what that makes me: am I a Quadra Islander or a Quadralite? I like the sound of the latter one, although it makes me think of something that goes around on four legs. In any case, I am really enjoying myself. I have been to Quadra Island several times, having moved to the Campbell River area 13 years ago, and I worked at April Point Resort in 2002.
I was also here in 1981, and in fact had my honeymoon here, in a little cabin on the beach, on the east of the island, below a house that Joy Inglis was living in and where my sister was boarding. The cabin was perfect – all it had was an old spring bed and an oil lamp.. I don’t think there was even any running water at all. It seemed very romantic to me.
Joy was someone my sister and I knew through Strathcona Park Lodge, and it is also through the Lodge that I am acquainted with several other Quadra people. There has been a strange symbiotic bond between the Lodge and Quadra – both places draw the same kind of people to them; people who like to be close to the wilderness and who are often employed in creative, educational or outdoor related pursuits.
One thing I like about Quadra especially is the roads – there is no highway. The lovely narrow rural routes meander over the island with dips and curves and with a kind of lackadaisical attitude, as if there is nowhere to go in a hurry. (You may have heard the expression “Quadra Time”). Certainly this is apparent when you are here, unless of course you have to catch the ferry. Then there is a bewildering rush hour, with vehicles coming out of nowhere and converging onto Harper Road to get to the Quathiaski Cove harbour on time for the departure/arrival of the ferry from Campbell River. It is also possible to get to Cortez Island from Quadra Island, although going in the opposite direction from ‘the Cove’ via Heriot Bay.
I was a little apprehensive about being a regular ferry passenger. When I first moved to BC I dreaded driving onto the ferry. I don’t know why; I had a strange feeling that I would do something wrong. I also thought that I would find the trip tedious, and that I would wish it would hurry up or that I didn’t have to take it at all. So far though, I actually enjoy taking the ferry. I find it relaxing. I put on my makeup, clean out my purse, drink tea, write shopping lists, make phone calls, tidy up my car… in fact I am almost sad when it is over. It is a beautiful trip too – looking at the water and the vistas in either direction, particularly at the Coastal or the Vancouver Island mountain ranges.
I believe too, that the trip across the water reaches something elemental in us. Throughout legend, there are many references to crossing the water to reach a more spiritual place, or to ‘get to the other side’. Being separated from the
larger land mass by water so far doesn’t seem distressing; I think especially since Quadra has so many basic amenities. After all, it was settled even before Campbell River and its history (which is more than aptly covered in Jeanette Taylor’s book ‘The Quadra Story’) forms part of the Discovery Islands history.. that of moving west from the mainland in gradual steps towards Vancouver Island. In the days that many people occupied these islands, water was the way that people got from place to place. Instead of a barrier, it was a conduit.
I live in a converted sawmill on a large property, and it is quiet and beautiful. There are trails close by, and I took one the other day to get down to the beach. The beach is mainly large rocks and boulders and I found a startling number of starfish. I have lived at Storries Beach south of Campbell River for seven years, and was used to finding sealife on my forays down to shore, but have never seen so many starfish at one time. I was also delighted that a lone whale passed by close to shore, making the distinctive ‘phoosh’ sound as it exhaled.
I am looking forward to summer and exploring more, especially on my bicycle. I expect to have lots of visitors as I know from living on the other side, that many people are looking for a reason to come over to Quadra and now they can have the excuse to visit me. See my short gallery below and there will be more I’m sure.
Don’t forget to visit my website http://www.catherinegilbert.ca.