St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
Finally, we have some news to report.
The cute little house that we bought last year was too small for us. We knew that all along, but we figured that we could build an addition. However, it turns out that construction costs on the island are higher than we anticipated, plus there's all the hassle from construction.
So, we have sold it and bought a larger house. It is more centrally located, being within walking distance of "downtown" Denman and the ferry terminal. It has a little less land than the small house, but it is still a good sized lot at six acres, mostly forest. It has a nice garden with fruit trees, including - we could hardly believe our luck - our favourite variety of apple, the Gravenstein.
The inside has pine flooring, custom pine cabinets, and a pine-board vaulted ceiling in the living room. I'll post more pictures eventually. It has two bedrooms (a 100% increase over the small house), meaning that we can have a home office, which we consider a necessity. Plus, it has a cottage that will accommodate occasional visitors without their having to share a room with fax machines and computers. It also has a separate garage/studio building. It is central enough that, if high-speed Internet ever gets there, we will be among the first connected.
We are pretty excited about the new house, especially that it has everything we want already there. In fact, things have been a little too exciting lately, what with all the real estate transactions flying over the fax lines. Luckily that is all a done deal, so now we can concentrate on the move.
I have been asked lately, "Where the heck is Denman Island, anyway?" Here is a false-colour satellite photo of the Gulf of Georgia area. As you can see, Denman Island is fairly far north, being north of Nanaimo, and quite far from the better-known Southern Gulf Islands. The local business centre is Courtenay, which is well served by the Comox Valley Airport, co-located with the Comox Air Force Base. The airport is the pink dot on the photo, on the point of land just east of Courtenay.
Denman Island, and its sister island, Hornby, are members of the Islands Trust, which also includes the Southern Gulf Islands archipelago and Bowen Island near Vancouver. The Islands Trust forms another level of local government dedicated to maintaining the unique environment and lifestyle of the member islands. This gives the islands a unique municipal government system. Municipal responsibilities are divided between the Regional Districts (Comox-Strathcona for the Northern Gulf Islands, and Capital for the Southern Gulf Islands), which provide services such as health care and social services, and the Islands Trust, which governs land use and zoning.
So, is it the "Gulf" of Georgia or the "Strait" of Georgia? It was originally named the Gulf of Georgia (hence the "Gulf" Islands) by Captain George Vancouver, a gulf being "a large area of a sea or ocean partially enclosed by land, especially a long landlocked portion of sea opening through a strait." However, in the 19th century, someone got upset that the Gulf of Georgia was connected to the ocean by two straits instead of one, and its official name was changed to the Strait of Georgia. A strait is "a narrow channel joining two larger bodies of water", whereas the Gulf of Georgia is a large body of water joining two narrow channels (the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Johnstone Strait), so the earlier name makes more sense.
Nothing terribly exciting to report, this week. After last week's excitement, that's probably a good thing! The photo is an "art shot" of the Denman ferry dock back in January, shortly after a snowfall.
Now that we know for sure what our address will be, we've been busy making all the necessary arrangements, both there and here. We have phone and electricity arranged out there, utilities scheduled to be shut off here. We have to remember to get the post office to forward our mail. Fortunately, once the arrangements are made, there's no chance they will forget the forwarding and deliver our mail to our old address. Within a few days of our leaving, the old house will no longer exist, so there will be no mailbox to put it in!
We're down to the point where the non-essentials are all packed and it's time to start packing the essentials. By the time we leave, we'll be living out of a suitcase.
Once we get to Denman, it will be a few days before we can move in. First, we have to have cleaners and painters in to get it prettied up for us. It will be much easier to have all that done without furniture in place. Those arrangements are already made. (Buying the Denman Island phone book last year was the best $4 we ever spent!)
We probably won't be able to actually take up residence until about April 15th. Luckily, the little house we sold doesn't actually change hands for another month, so we'll have shelter, kitchen and laundry facilities while we're waiting. The only clothes and utensils we'll have will be what we carry in the car, so we'll have to pack it carefully. (Hint: No housewarming gifts when we pass through Vancouver and New Westminster on the way out, please. We won't have space for anything!)
Reba, meanwhile, will be living in luxury at our dogsitter's place in Calgary until we are moved in. Then, she'll get to fly out to join us once we're settled in.
The photo at right is of "downtown" Denman, the heart of the business district!
One of our neighbours when we move will be the Denman Island Chocolate factory. As I mentioned in the Feb 11th diary entry, the chocolate makers were instrumental in bringing Denman Island to our attention in the first place. They are planning to expand, and the location for their new factory (pending zoning approval) is just around the corner from our house. When we want to make someone really envious, we point out that it's just a three minute walk from our place!
As we get down to the final stages of packing, one of the things that needs careful planning is what to take with us in the car. Not so much for the three day road trip, but for what we need during the time between when we arrive and when our furniture and possessions are unloaded from the truck. The truck can't be unloaded until the house is painted, which can't happen until the cleaner is done, who can't start before we get possession. So, during that time, we will be living on what we bring with us. Of course, we can go into town for some things, but each trip is a $10 ferry ride, and we don't want to be buying duplicates of stuff we already own.
So, a suitcase of clothes each, including work clothes. Sleeping bags and air mattresses. Some pots & pans, dishes and cutlery. Microwave. Food for the first day. House number sign (photo) and screws to hang it: there isn't one there, and the movers and other service people will need it to find the place. Basic tools: hammer, screwdriver, wrench, vice-grips, pliers. Box-cutter! We'll need the log book showing what is packed in which box. (Each box is numbered.) We thought about a roll of chicken wire so we can have an enclosure ready for when the dog arrives, but it's just too bulky: we'll have to get that there.
One week to go! Our house is looking pretty bare: everything that isn't packed yet has to be packed in the next few days, except what we will take with us in the car. I've been very restrictive in grocery shopping for the last few weeks so we won't waste more food than necessary when it's time to clean out the fridge and pantry.
Our computers will be packed up this weekend, so this is au revoir to our Internet friends for a few weeks. I have left some diary updates to be posted automatically each week, so by all means continue to check the Denman Diary regularly. However, the updates, being written ahead of time, will be about what we expect to happen, not what has actually happened. For that, you will have to wait until we are unpacked and connected, which we expect to be around April 15th.
It's been snowy and cold here this week. There's another blogger on Denman, and we read his diary entries weekly. He's been posting pictures of green lawns and flowers blooming for the last few weeks. Aaargh!! We can't get there soon enough! Imagine, a place where, once the weather starts warming up and the days get longer, winter is over! What a concept! The photo shows our new place in January.
Actually, we just discovered that we have another connection with this other diarist. It turns out that the guest cottage on our new property used to be his cabin. Once he had built his new house, he sold it to the former owner of our house, who had it hauled up the hill to his place.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 6-May-2013