Coming to Gabriola

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, May 3 2016

One of the most fascinating things you can ask a Gabriolan is how they came here. For me, I love to hear how people knew that this is where they would make a home. Not unlike pioneers who first moved across the prairies and settled on the West Coast, how does each of us know when we’ve found home, particularly on an island that is only accessible by ferry? What is it that speaks to each of us and tells us that this is where the moving van makes its final stop?

When we first moved to Gabriola, in 2005, I was seven months pregnant with my son. This was my first baby and we moved from Calgary, me driving our little VW Golf across the Rockies with our black lab Dixie and our tortoiseshell cat, Mojo, yowling in the back of the car. My partner was in the moving van ahead of me, which contained his 16 foot sailboat that was a work in progress, as well as everything we owned.

When we arrived at the rental, we found that it wasn’t habitable or even close due to renovations underway. There was a bathtub full of building materials, an oven in the kitchen and the whole place was covered in drywall dust. I promptly burst into tears and had to be coaxed into having a tea in Raspberry’s Cafe to calm down. The hunt was on for a new rental, but how and where would we find one on such short notice? At the time there were no rentals in the paper and I was devastated. I was in nesting mode and had never needed a home more than at that moment.

We drove around the island, feeling more desperate with every passing minute and eventually made it back to the Village where we stood in front of the old noticeboard and found gold. A post had just been put up that day. We called immediately and went to see a beautiful home that suited us just fine. We drove the moving truck into the driveway and began unpacking after meeting with the kindest landlord on this earth.

Later that afternoon, we discovered we had found a new home that was just a five minute walk from two white sand beaches (Twin Beaches). I felt like someone had scooped us up and set us down right where we were supposed to be. That fall, when my son came, our car broke down and we had to drive a friend’s van to the hospital. I remember going into labour in the ferry line-up (that would happen twice). Both times, I wondered if we would even make it to the hospital. 

Our son wasn’t born until the next day and when we brought him home it seemed like such a long trek to come with him to the island. I was frightened to be away from all the services in Nanaimo but after a few days I was proudly walking him in the stroller around the neighbourhood. 

What makes the island home for me is that I have raised my children here. Gabriola roots us as a family so firmly because this is the cradle where my babies have become children and lovely people. I wonder what our lives might have been like had we not found the rental that day. It makes me think that Gabriola claims us each for its own. We are here together, building our lives in a community that truly is paradise. Deciding to raise a family here is just part of a grand adventure that fills its sails with hope, faith and yes, a little charity.