Karl Darwin coaxes his little truck up one of the many hills on the Main Road of Lasqueti Island, gets to the crest and shuts off the engine.
Gas is expensive on the Island, he later explains, and this improves his pickup’s miles-per-gallon performance considerably.
Things are a little different on Lasqueti Island. On purpose. And Darwin may provide a microcosm of the kind of people who have thrived on this off-the-grid place.
It’s easy to characterize Lasqueti as a haven for pot-smoking, draft-dodging hippies. We have stooped to those levels on these pages from time to time. That kind of branding is not just an over-simplification, it’s a mistake.
Karl, for example, has been welding since his teens. He doesn’t have a welding ticket, but one gets the sense he does a better-than-good job whenever he burns some rod. He has logged, fished — done everything for a living that Lasquetians have done over the decades for cash. He built his first car before he could legally have a driver’s licence.
People on Lasqueti Island spend a lot of time just making sure they can survive. But when they speak of it, they don’t make it sound like a harsh life or a series of overwhelming chores. It’s just the way it is.
They need wood to heat their homes and it doesn’t exactly fall off the trees and stack itself beside the house. They grow a lot of their own food and the wild deer and feral sheep must be kept away from the goods.
The Island is populated by people with varied skills. There’s probably a welder, housebuilder, lawyer or dentist just around the next bend. They may be retired, but they bring many varied skills to the table and seem willing to help their neighbours. And they have embraced the new technologies they can get to the Island (it’s a solar-power mecca, for one).
This group of people with varied skills comes in handy when the community needs to build something for the greater good. The Judith Fisher Health Centre is an example. It’s a remarkable facility (more on that in next Thursday’s paper).
If the Island has a go-to guy, it’s Karl Darwin. We feel blessed to have met him. And we are thankful for all of the over-the-top hospitality and genuine kindness (Gwen, Craig, Keith) we experienced last weekend as we made a long-overdue trip to Lasqueti.
— Editorial by John Harding