Island Homesteading: One Couple's Experience

Though modern conveniences are few, the Nahanee's wouldn't trade their homesteading life for anything.

| September/October 1976

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    It might be only a half-acre, but it's home.
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    A log-salvaging business brings in extra money.
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    The small island cabin is quite comfortable.
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    The Nahanee's grow vegetables and fruit.
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    Living with no electricity makes life a little bit more challenging.

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When you think about homesteading, you probably conjure up visions of five acres of hillside meadow overlooking a sparkling stream. Most folks, I suspect, do. But my husband, Vern, and I would like to acquaint MOTHER's readers with our somewhat different route to the "ideal" life.

We are, you see, island dwellers. Not in some glorious tropical climate that features year-round tans gained beside a blue lagoon ... but on a rocky half acre just off the western coast of Canada.

It's Bigger Than It Looks

One small half acre of land (especially when it's comprised mostly of rock) may seem to be—and is!—an awfully tiny plot on which to raise the necessities of life for two people. But the productivity of that half-acre increases tremendously when you use such an island as a base from which to forage the surrounding ocean.

We have—for example—more than enough oysters, clams, and crabs at our back door for our own use. Ducks obligingly stop here for the winter and deer populate the neighboring islands. And the waters around us teem with cod, prawns, and world-famous British Columbia salmon. The beach also provides us with ready-made fertilizer in the form of seaweed and starfish, and our garden—when enriched with such bounty—rewards us with fine vegetables.

We Traded a Lot.... For a Lot More!

My husband and I—as members of the Squamish Indian Nation—were able to trade our lot on the North Vancouver Reservation for the right to relocate to this island. We think we got the best of the bargain.

Our new home was once the summer retreat of an industrialist (who leased it from the Squamish tribe) and, although the main house had been moved away, a small cabin still stood on the island when we moved in. The little building's windows were gone and its roof leaked but, with a few hasty repairs, the dwelling soon became quite comfortable to live in.


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