This Couple has Lived for 29 Years on an Island They Built Themselves

By Doug Williams
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A lot of folks right around the world at the moment are wishing they had a quiet, self-contained island to which they could retreat and wait out the pandemic.

 

Being all alone in the wilderness, in total peace and in safe surroundings, just might be most people’s idea of a dream come true, particularly during this weird, scary summer of 2020.

For Catherine King and Wayne Adams, the dream has long been a reality; they’ve not only lived on an island off the coast of British Columbia (B.C.) Canada for almost 30 years; they built it themselves.

 

Hard to imagine, for sure, but what’s even more impressive is that this island, known as Freedom Cove, is a multi-building home, a place where King tends to thousands of plants each day and Adams fishes directly through their living room floor.

Their power is generated by six solar panels, as is their heat. Every single part of their home is either from scrap, or recycled and re-purposed materials – they buy nothing new. And as for popping into town to pick up take out food or new clothes? Forget it – the closest town is about 35 minutes away, by boat.

King, a dancer and natural medicine practitioner, and Adams, an artist and sculptor, committed to this life almost three decades ago. They had lived in an apartment Tofino, a city on Vancouver Island, but weren’t thriving; they wanted to live off the grid.

Greeted by two large whale ribs that form the entrance. Credit: Catherine King and Wayne Adams
Greeted by two large whale ribs that form the entrance. Credit: Catherine King and Wayne Adams

They got their wish — in more ways than they first imagined, but couldn’t be happier, particularly now, as the world grapples with the fallout of a global pandemic. King and Adams do get visitors, but no one simply “drops in,” as arriving by boat after a trip that takes more than half an hour takes a certain degree of planning.

Curiously, their lives took this turn almost accidentally, though it would seem to be the kind of move one must make in a deliberate way. In this case, a friend of theirs found themselves with too much wood on their land after a storm, so King and Adams began building a home from it.

With a hole in the floor Wayne can even fish from the comfort of his sofa! Credit: Catherine King and Wayne Adams
With a hole in the floor Wayne can even fish from the comfort of his sofa! Credit: Catherine King and Wayne Adams

It is an island that floats far from shore, although the buildings are in fact attached to the coast by lines and tethers, although it is not anchored to the cove floor.

Over the years, they have built a dance floor, a candle factory, six greenhouses, an artist’s gallery and many gardens. King grows their vegetables; Adams fishes almost daily to provide protein for the meals.

In an interview with CNN in late July, Adams acknowledged that, at one point in their lives, he wanted to earn a big income selling his art and have a place in the country where they could go on vacations. But when their friend offered them all the excess wood and they began building the first structure, they never looked back.

“We could never afford to buy real estate,” Adams admitted, “so we had to make our own.”

And make it they did, in spades.

The structures are all painted in strong, dark magenta and teal colours, making their property very striking and visual, even from the air.

And they don’t get bored – ever – because they have so much to do each day. As for missing the urbanity of cities like Vancouver or even Tofino? Not a chance; King says that the noise and hectic pace of cities drives her crazy, and when they do venture off the island, she is soon longing for home, and peace and quiet.

To learn more about life on Freedom Cove and hear directly from King and Adams, check out the latest episode of Great Big Story, a new podcast from CNN.

Not only is it restful, it just might be the best place in Canada to ride out the pandemic. British Columbia is faring well now, after a few brutal months in the spring, but nevertheless people are cautious about new cases coming to the province.

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But King and Adams don’t have to worry; at Freedom Cove, it’s only them in residence – and the seals, herons, and seagulls, too, of course.

 
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