Masset, Haida Gwaii
Queen Charlotte Islands)
BC Canada V0T 1M0
|News: 1 2
is continuing working on a Cookbook:
It has a New Title, and it
will now be published in the spring
of 2015 by Whitecap.
TASTE OF HAIDA GWAII:
Gathering and Feasting at the Edge
of the World
Includes Susan Musgrave's highly
coveted sourdough bread recipe and more in "From
the Forage of the Oven" a chapter on beach
combing and wash-up and a recipe for Shipwrecked
Chicken Wings; in "A Rogue's Galley",
and you will read about a local fisherman who
offered an exotic dancer 50 lbs of shrimp to
spend the night with him, and a famous politician's
recipe for Rustled Beef by Gaslight.
in Masset, and our guests dress for breakfast.
Guess which one is the judge?
We have a number of “regulars” who
stay at Copper Beech House and become part of our
family. Julia challenged guests during court week
in May 2014, to come to breakfast wearing “something
from their room.” The fish head (a hundred
year-old-ling cod, which David Phillips wore as
headgear to the Canadian Embassy Washingston, D.C.
when Bill Reid’s The Spirit of Haida Gwaii,
The Black Canoe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_of_Haida_Gwaii was
unveiled) is not in a guestroom, but hangs discreetly
on a living room wall wearing a jaunty Panama hat
left behind by Douglas Coupland http://coupland.com on
his last visit. A Facebook friend wrote saying, “I
am too boring to stay with you.” Not true.
No one is boring. “Perception,” as
Joelle Rabu from Haida House in Tllaal http://haidahouse.com says, “is
99% of the flaw.”
Information Feature brought to you by BC
Tow Hill Community (Haida Gwaii)
Tuesday, Sep. 24 2013, 11:44 AM EDT
updated Monday, Feb. 03 2014, 12:31 PM
You will hear it
often, about some places, “I
came for a visit and never left.” In
my case, I firstvisited Haida Gwaii
eight years ago, and it wasn’t
until five years later that I finally
made my move. I’m often asked
about the community here. I can only
speak as a newcomer, my experience
filtered through my biases and influenced
by the stories that I’ve heard.
Individual mileage may vary.
“Tow Town” isn’t
so much a town as a geographic region
that blesses a certain way of life.
you could glide right past it on your
way to the end of the road, beyond
the eponymous Tow Hill. Distracted
by the otherworldly scenery, you might
keep driving till your wheels hit seawater
as the road fades into sand. Beyond
that, north Beach curves away like
a long, pale scythe, jutting out towards
the municipal boundary sign of Masset
and beyond where the pavement turns
to gravel. Along a stretch of road
that parallels the coastline, with
a few branches that end in cul-de-sacs.
That’s where the denizens of
the Tow Hill Community (T.H.C.) reside.
A loose collection of folks – they
number about 150 – but a tight
Thirty years ago
there was little at the end of the
road beyond the remnants of the first
hardy homesteaders and a clam cannery,
a now defunct resort, and the ghost
of an old Haida village. Though
North Beach has always
been an important food gathering area
for the Haida. Then came – for
lack of a better word – hippies
who lived in shacks off the beach.
These inhabitants, who have been called
everything from Tow Towners and Tow
Hillbillies to Dreadnecks and Earth
Muffins, have stayed long enough to
raise a second generation.
Some might see them
as a new strain of bohemian, though
they would likely object to being called
one. You’re as likely to seeone
with a chainsaw in their hands as a
surfboard or a ukulele. A dream catcher
on the rearview mirror of their truck
perhaps. To some townies though, they’re
still just plain hippies.
It is not just out
toward the end of the road, but also
near the end of the power line. Many
here live, or have lived, off-grid
by choice. Even for some of those who
settled within a stone’s throw
of the line, they chose not to be hooked
up. Being connected isn’t just
about bills, and inspectors, and the
proliferation of everything that plugs
in. Living off-grid is a state of being.
It means splitting wood for warmth,
hauling your water. And once you’re
taking care of those basics of existence,
it’s only natural to extend your
thoughts to collecting your own food.
Here the forests
are laden with deer, mushrooms, berries
and other choice edibles, the ocean
full of fish, shellfish and crabs.
From both, a vast supply of wood, to
fuel stoves or be milled into building
materials. Water quite literally falls
from the sky to be collected into barrels.
This existence makes you conscious
of everything that you use and appreciate
what you’ve got. It means helping
out and needing the help of others.
It fosters being connected to the land
Residents of the
Tow Hill Community live in everything
from shacks built of plastic sheeting
stretched over wooden frames to handcrafted
homes filled with elegant custom cabinetry
and shiny modern appliances. But many
started at some point with raw land
and a hammer. The simple life is not
easy. That’s what makes it rewarding.
The allure of modern convenience is
irresistibly strong. But here at least,
you’re conscious of the difference
between your wants and needs.
The people here aren’t
easily pigeonholed, though I seem to
be trying, and cannot be painted as
an archetype. Local residents have
included a famous poet and a once prolific
bank robber, a German opera singer
and a Kiwi lawyer, a pyromaniac and
a Toyota mechanic, a librarian and
a goat farmer, carpenters and beachcombers,
circus jugglers and kayak guides, mushroom
pickers and tree planters, former activists
and anarchists, retired cops and soldiers.
Many are a combination of the above.
defined by how they choose to live
rather than how they make their living.
The empty surf breaks were a major
draw for some residents and are still
a significant part of the lifestyle
today. There may be as many reasons
as there are people for landing here,
but there are common bonds that bind
There are plenty
of other little communities out there
harbouring refugees from city life.
The people of Tow Hill live on an island,
with all that island living entails.
The added remoteness and isolation
draws people together, removes anonymity.
Everyone who comes must come by plane
or boat. It takes effort to get here.
No one just happens to be passing through.
perhaps one of the reasons that the
Tow Hill Community is so inclusive
and welcoming. If you’ve gone
to the trouble to get here and engage
with the locals (which could be as
simple as ordering a coffee at The
Moon Over Naikoon Bakery and smiling
at the person next to you), then they
will generally reciprocate your interest.
These are places
where every person is an individual
instead of a particle in an anonymous
wash of humanity. Places where work
is done with one’s hands and
actions have real consequences. Where
a person with no skills could show
up, throw down some tools, and without
adherence to much more than physics
and logic, make a home and build a
Poet and Writer reflects on her next chapter as cookbook
author and owner
of an eclectic Haida Gwaii guest house.
by MASA TAKEI photography:
here to read the article
July 27, 2013
tales from poet Susan Musgrave >> Click
or click here
2, 2013 at 10:41 am
How gathering mussels on a beach can fill you up inside > > Click
How gathering mussels on a beach can fill you up inside
I like this quote from poet Susan Musgrave about
the enigmatic lure of life on Haida Gwaii (formerly
the Queen Charlotte Islands), a wild and sparsely
populated archipelago off the northern coast of
British Columbia. Musgrave has been a part-time
resident of Haida Gwaii since 1972 . Like many
local residents, she built her own home, forages
for food, and lives according to the rhythms of
the land and sea around her. This quote appeared
in the Summer 2013 issue of British Columbia
"If you spend the whole day getting mussels
off the beach and you come home and cook them
up with some snow peas from the garden, and you’re
tired and wet, it’s more fulfilling than
buying them in [a grocery chain like] Thrifty’s,
because you actually had to participate in the
process of your life as opposed to just being
a consumer. Haida Gwaii does that for people;
it allows them to go back to a time when they
were more involved with their own lives, as opposed
to when they were just watching or being led.
Would that we all had the opportunity to exist,
at least for a time, in such an elemental state of
engagement and harmony.
Posted on July 2, 2013 at 10:41 am in
Mar. 15 2013,
1:03 PM EDT
should I do Haida Gwaii? byJOHN LEE
Special to The Globe and Mail Mar. 15 2013, 1:03
On my first seven-hour BC Ferries voyage from
the province’s northern mainland to this
remote 150-island archipelago, it was still officially
named the Queen Charlotte Islands. I quickly fell
for its edge-of-the-world appeal, First Nations
heritage and population of welcoming locals.
One of these was Andrew Merilees, who guided me
to some of the region’s less-accessible gems.
Merilees still runs his tour company (haidagwaiidiscovery.com)
and is also the mayor of Masset, one of the islands’ larger
communities. He’s not surprised Haida Gwaii
tops many must-do travel lists. “There’s
nowhere in Canada more mythic and magical,” says
Merilees, who believes the region’s natural
splendours – from surf-battered beaches to
forest-backed clifftops – coupled with its
indigenous culture are the main lures.
Many visitors start by flying into Skidegate then
trying to see as much as possible. But “island
time” is a way of life here and you’ll
connect to Haida Gwaii more deeply if you slow down.
The best way to begin? Join the locals on that languid
ferry ride from mainland Prince Rupert.
Once you’ve docked, though, you’ll need
a way to get around. “Rent a car or bring your
own on the ferry,” advises Merilees. “There’s
no bus service and Taxis are just in the major centres.”
He suggests must-see visits to the totem-fronted Haida
Heritage Centre as well as Naikoon
Provincial Park for a Tow Hill forest
hike and a breathtaking North Beach stroll – on
my second visit, I beachcombed here in the sun
as locals plucked writhing crabs from the surf.
On rainy days, I’d also recommend downloading
the Art Route brochure at gohaidagwaii.ca and exploring
the islands’ many artisan studios.
Since rental rates are high here and roads are often
very rough – many opt for guided tours for
at least part of their trip. And that is best option
for experiencing Gwaii
Haanas National Park Reserve, the southern portion
of the archipelago and the main source of those “mythic” and “magical” labels.
The forests are jaw-droppingly pristine with the
evocative remains of old Haida settlements, and only
accessible by boat or float plane. Merilees says
that’s key to its appeal. “Haida Gwaii
is totally different from the water,” he says,
adding that encountering an abandoned village on
the tree-fringed shoreline is a highlight.
Suggesting boat-based tour companies Moresby Explorers
and Maple Leaf Adventures – the former also
offers a kayaking option, while the latter provides
sailing-ship excursions – he also recommends
Inland Air. They run float-plane day tours, including
one to SGaang Gwaii, where there’s
a village site famed for its rows of ocean-facing
Wherever you go in Haida Gwaii, hang with the locals
as much as possible. You’ll overhear gossip
at the laid-back, whalebone-lined Moon Over
Naikoon bakery, while a stay at Copper
Beach House B&B – described by
Margaret Atwood on Twitter as “luverly” – should
fill you in on any local knowledge gaps.
For memorable dining, don’t miss Keenawii’s
Kitchen where Roberta Olson opens her
waterfront home for seafood feasts. On one of my
visits, I gorged on dried seaweed starters, shrimp
and clam chowder and several dishes of butter-soft
halibut, salmon and lingcod. Which reminds me:
it’s about time for my next visit – perhaps
during August’s Edge of the World
Follow John @johnleewriter.
was one of the guests who stayed at Copper Beech
last summer, when we brought a group of media out.
The theme of this story is "love and romance"...
Find True Love in British Columbia: Your
Guide to the Province's Wedding and Honeymoon
by Joanne Sasvari
From its snow-capped mountain peaks to its wave-swept
beaches and all the enchanting getaways in between,
British Columbia is a breathtaking destination
for a wedding or honeymoon.
It all starts with that important question — and
that even more important answer. Will she? Won't
The perfect proposal needs a perfectly romantic
setting. And what could be more romantic than a
whole city veiled in bridal blossoms? Come spring,
when Vancouver's 37,000 cherry trees burst into
fragrant pink and white bloom, love is in the very
air across this cosmopolitan city, from its many
parks to its most romantic restaurants.
Love is also in the crystalline air above Hudson
Bay Mountain, which towers over Smithers in Northern
BC, attracting not only skiers in search of pure
powder, but young couples with love in their eyes.
It hovers above the Kootenay Rockies, where couples
can exchange their promises in the pristine wilderness,
then seal the deal with a steamy dip in Halcyon
Hot Springs near Nakusp.
And this year, love will very much be in the air
everywhere on Leap Day, February 29, when it's
the ladies' turn to propose to the gents. What
man could resist the flair of a bride-to-be who
books an unforgettable Canadian Snowmobile Adventure,
complete with an intimate, three-course fondue
dinner at the Crystal Hut on Blackcomb Mountain?
Once he or she has said "yes," it's time
to book that dream wedding.
In 2008, movie stars Scarlett Johansson and Ryan
Reynolds took their vows at the remote, romantic
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort on Vancouver Island,
a getaway as famous for its luxury tents as its
wilderness activities, stunning scenery and exceptional
locally sourced cuisine.
Ever since, brides and grooms have answered the
call of the wild all over British Columbia.
They've boarded Prince Rupert Adventure Tours'
big yellow yacht to say "I do" while
viewing the grizzlies, eagles and whales of the
mist-shrouded northern coast. They've exchanged
vows under open skies at God's Mountain Estate
in the Okanagan Valley, embracing the pastoral
life and eclectic ambience of a unique wine country
retreat. And they've affirmed their commitments
while surrounded by 360 degrees of spectacular
mountaintop scenery at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
and at Whistler Blackcomb, where the legendary
Roundhouse Lodge can start a marriage off with
Of course, not everyone thinks rugged adventure
and romance are a match made in heaven. For them,
there is the comfortable elegance of Victoria's
Oak Bay Beach Hotel, an oceanside hostelry built
in 1927 that has just undergone a massive rejuvenation
and will reopen in great style this spring. Another
grand old hotel that has recently come back to
gorgeous life is Vancouver's Rosewood Hotel Georgia,
where the luxe Spanish ballroom is decked out in
silver-tinted plasterwork as ornate as any wedding
Those who prefer a wedding on a more intimate scale
may opt instead for the historic charm of Richmond's
Minoru Chapel. This quaint, 120-year-old nondenominational
church draws 200 couples a year from as far away
as China. They are attracted by its traditional
— not to mention the exceptional Chinese
banquets to be had in the Golden Village nearby.
The food of love is also on the menu at the Okanagan
Valley's many wineries. At the Tuscan-themed Hester
Creek Estate Winery, for instance, the happy couple
will wed surrounded by rolling, vine-clad hills
and feast on lovingly prepared local fare before
escaping to one of the Mediterranean-style villas
for a night of wedded bliss.
Couples who take that idea of escape even more
seriously may choose, instead, to head to one of
several British Columbia resorts that have become
experts in modern elopements. They have specialists
who can arrange everything from the wedding licence
to the witnesses, photography, cake and, of course,
dinner and accommodation. In fact, they can arrange
it so that the happy couple doesn't have to do
anything but show up and say, "I do."
Perched above the crashing waves of Vancouver Island's
rugged west coast, the Wickaninnish Inn is a Relais & Chateaux
property famous for its fine dining, spectacular
views and romantic ambience, including an elopement
specialist who will take care of every single detail,
including a side-by-side hot stone massage.
Runaway brides and grooms who prefer big skies
and cowboy boots can head to Echo Valley Ranch
in the Cariboo Mountains, where the elopement co-ordinator
will organize fly fishing for trout in open meadows,
rides on Tennessee Walker horses, and a rejuvenating
Thai massage. And still other couples will find
their perfect romantic refuge among the "tenthouse
suites" of Rockwater Secret Cove Resort & Spa
on the Sunshine Coast, where the elopement package
includes a romantic rose petal turndown service
on the wedding night.
Victoria, with its horse-drawn carriages, pretty
gardens and charming inns, has long been one of
BC's favourite honeymoon destinations. Newlyweds
can find the perfect little nook here, whether
it be the historic grandeur of the Fairmont Empress
Hotel, the modern elegance of the Inn at Laurel
Point Inn or the cosy intimacy of Abigail's Hotel,
a heritage mansion with a spa tucked amid lush
But every corner of British Columbia offers a romantic
destination for just-wed bliss.
On magical, mystical Haida Gwaii, for instance,
the Copper Beech Guest House is the perfect getaway
for those in love with words as well as each other.
Owned by the poet Susan Musgrave, its cosy, book-lined
walls have played host to famous writers including
Margaret Atwood, Douglas Coupland and Pierre Trudeau.
Also in Northern BC, King Pacific Lodge is the
ultimate luxury eco-wilderness getaway (complete
with a well-appointed spa) in the Great Bear Rainforest,
with access to fishing, heli-hiking, wilderness
kayaking, whale watching and unbeatable views.
And a little further south in the Cariboo Chilcotin
Coast's Bella Coola Valley, the historic Tweedsmuir
Park Lodge has been a romantic getaway since the
1920s and still offers a relaxing refuge surrounded
by forests and wildlife, including one of the healthiest
grizzly bear habitats in the world.
The Kootenay Rockies, too, have their remote getaways,
like the lovely Island Lake Lodge near Fernie,
which is surrounded by 2,800 hectares (7,000 acres)
of pristine wilderness. But couples yearning for
a bit of urban action may prefer to stay at the
historic Hume Hotel in downtown Nelson, a small
city with a big appetite for art, culture and fine
Sheer luxury awaits newlyweds who book into Sparkling
Hill Resort near Vernon in the Thompson Okanagan.
The resort incorporates 3.5 million crystal elements
in virtually every aspect of the property, its
dazzling design perfectly set amidst the glittering
snow-capped Monashee Mountains and shimmering waters
of Lake Okanagan.
And who says you need to leave the city at all?
With luxurious new hotels like the Shangri-La and
the Fairmont Pacific Rim, as well as beaches, parks
and gardens galore, Vancouver offers plenty of
romantic escapes within the city — cherry
blossom confetti free of charge.
Learn more about BC's romantic destinations at www.Hellobc.com/romance.
For more on British Columbia's destinations and
travel information, call 1-800 HELLO BC® (North
America) or visit www.Hellobc.com.
a New Video: Masa visits with Author Susan Musgrave
at her home.
REVIEW: http://rebstevenson.com/2011/07/adventurous-from-masset-to-skidegate/ click
Magizine has a new article about Copper Beech Guest
Around Without Blinking" - Watch film directed
by Scott Smith with Sarah, Jim and Bry in Haida Gwaii
escorted by Bluewater Adventures:
Parks Project www.nationalparksproject.ca
and Mischief in Poetry: Canadian Writer Susan Musgrave
BY Greta Aart & Susan Musgrave