Wanting to get away from the long commutes of their city life, this family left Vancouver and landed in a small mountain town they’d never heard of until they moved there.
We were once a modern family of marathon runners. My husband and I ran from home to work to kid pick-ups to mortgage renewals to family obligations. Repeat sweaty routine at 5:30 am. We had a pretty new house, a postage stamp lawn and a travel trailer to escape it as often as possible.
I was a high school teacher with our baby in childcare and Jim was in project management. His daily commute was a minimum of three hours from our suburban neighbourhood to downtown Vancouver, and that was on a rare no-traffic-accident day. Cue water-in-face.
I was relieved to enter my second maternity leave, retire the sweatband and stay home with our babies. I never really liked running anyway. But my stats-man couldn’t stop the numbers from racing in his head. Numbers swirled as he dodged traffic, fought to meet deadlines, raced home to kiss the babes good-night and rip the numbered-pinny off his chest. Sometimes he made it, sometimes not.
But the long-term prognosis was not good. Neither the math nor the health equations seemed to work in our favour, despite—or because of—our runner’s pace. After much internal debate, Jim, hailing from a small-town, broached the subject of moving. It was an unlikely sell for this city girl, born and raised. I was so urban that I thought our farm-friendly suburbs—complete with Starbucks and your choice of restaurants—was already rural. I was not keen on leaving my inner circle for the unknown. But I was a spiritual girl, with a husband who had a vision for our family, and so I grew to believe that things would work out.
With just the right measure of prayers and naivete, we set out on our adventure. We wanted to be far enough for lower housing costs, close enough to family, and entirely intentional in our daily life. Our car seemed to steer itself towards the naturally beautiful Kootenays. With no jobs or prospects, friends or connections, we moved our small family into a small home in the small mountain town of Rossland, BC. It’s so small that I had never heard of Rossland until I moved here.
We spent our first New Years here watching the CBC in long johns with our hair blowing if we sat too close to the windows. Our family—including two toddlers—slept in one room while Jim’s first job was to renovate our heritage home. The snow, which was piled up to the eaves of our house, helped insulate our first winter and slow our pace. Because snow.
That first winter, we burned wood for heat, leaned into one another, bought not so much as a to-go coffee and grew pretty happy in our simplicity. Community helped fill gaps that family left including emergency appointments and filling chairs for patio dinners. Eight years later we have eased into a comfortable pace, adding a furnace for heat, (some of us) hunting to fill the freezer, making our own sausages, and drinking great local coffee. I took advantage of my natural surroundings and turned my former photography hobby into a wedding and family photography business. My small business has grown alongside my children. But, unlike my children, the business grows more at my pace.
Jim has found his stride, working full-time—and sometimes still too often—in project management. To counter the longer shifts, he gets out in nature as much as possible. There have been upsets and career changes with financial repercussions (some good, some bad) and loneliness. Sometimes great loneliness. But if I had to do it all again, I would only have moved our family earlier. For again, we find ourselves with a charming old house, a little lawn but our travel trailer is in now in storage as there is nothing to escape.
This is #1000families post number 152. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.