After an 18 year stint in Vancouver, BC I finally decided to move back to Newfoundland to get reconnected with my roots. So I sold Alleluia and packed up my things and headed east.
I purchased a house in central Newfoundland, bought a Sea Breeze 19.5′ fiberglass boat, a river boat, a snowmobile and a little cabin on Southwest beach, Gander Lake. Oh life’s good…
There’s an old saying that you can take the boy out of Newfoundland but you can’t take Newfoundland out of the boy… Newfoundland is deeply engrained in each and every one of us who hails from “The Rock” and whether we roam far and wide or stay at home we’re always connected to our island roots.
To move home? It was a tough decision but one that I had little control over. The deep yearning to reconnect to the people and place that I left behind when I was a young man was overpowering and now that I had the opportunity to embark on that journey I seized it.
In many respects “going back home” was more important than I had realized. The people, the connection with the land, to it’s history, to my family-ties all was much more than I understood in 2007. At the time I was longing for a break from the rat race of city life, dog eat dog, lifestyle of anonymity; toward a communal, easy to live, lifestyle of the Cheers! theme song “Everybody Knows Your Name”. I was looking forward to pulling a trout out of the pond thru a hole in the ice, to splitting firewood with an axe, listening to stories about where my ancestors came from, enjoying a fire on the beach on a cool fall evening overlooking the majestic beauty of fall colours.
Looking back this was an incredible time of growth and enjoyment. From running the rapids of Big Chute on Gander river, to casting a salmon fly on a beautiful river in central Newfoundland, to going out the bay looking for the mighty cod, to living off the land by picking a bucket of blue berries, to securing your winter’s meat by calling out and bringing down a 1100 lb bull moose. Every challenge helped me understand how much a “simple” life has to offer.
It was fulfilling to connect with many family members on a deep level and to learn of and come to terms with the fabric I was made of, to understand who I came from and what they stand for. It helped me appreciate the blood that was running thru my veins and understand my makeup… When I was younger I always felt that I was an individual who was my own island, that my personality was built from my daily decisions and experiences of my past. But this new connection with my family has helped me see that most of the instincts that drive my day to day behaviour is also largely due to the blood lines from my father and mother.
This time also introduced me to the ugly drawbacks of small town living. How the political BS, that doesn’t exist with the anonymity of city life, is alive and well in rural Newfoundland. How everyone who knows your name also believe they know you and your business and are quick to pass judgement… How personal judgements matter more than the facts and how some people feel that they are more superior to others when, in reality, we’re all pretty much the same and just trying to enjoy a happy life.
I had grown somewhat complacent with how easily life was flowing along. Everyday was filled with comfort and year after year life seemed pretty much the same. But in that comfort grew the feeling that I was missing out on life’s adventure. The feeling that life was passing me by and I needed to go out and seize it once again. I felt that I’ve experienced all that is good and meaningful of life back home and it was time to set out again.
I was working a contract that required me travel to the US several times a year which was a bit of an escape from the normality of life in rural NL. It was/is a perfect arrangement. I travel to large US cities a few times a year and get to experience city life at it’s best but spend most of my time working from the comfort of my home or cottage the rest of the year. Ah life’s good…
Around this time I met and fell in love with a wonderful woman named Debbie. Debbie is from a good family from the same hometown I was from and we quickly connected and realized that this was real. It was amazing to feel the connection and although I didn’t really know Debbie all that well in high school it was like we’ve known each other our whole lives. We would get each others jokes and know of the same people when we told stories. We could relate when we talked about growing up as we’ve both grew up in relatively same context. We enjoyed life at the cabin and she embraced the hunting and fishing lifestyle. She was everything I ever wanted in a partner and we decided to embark on our journey together and got engaged.
Deb lived in St. John’s and my house was in central NL. She looked into moving to central but it turned out that relocating to central wasn’t an option with her work so we decided to try living the St. John’s lifestyle. Back when I moved from Vancouver to NL I did so to live in a rural setting and I wasn’t at all happy with the move to St. John’s. I found it cold, wet, boring, rude, busy and uncomfortable so we looked into our options on relocating out west. I have a couple of daughters in Vancouver and Deb has one daughter there so we decided to head to BC. The only Service Canada office in BC that Deb could get transferred to was in Victoria. I lived in Victoria for a few years when I was starting my career and loved it. The more we looked at it as an option the better it seemed.
Back in the late 2000s I loved a life of sailing in the BC gulf islands and we started to research purchasing a new sailboat… More on this later…
We made up our mind to move, decided on some dates and Debbie put in her relocation request at work. We began researching and getting ready for a new life in Victoria.