Living here: The two sides to wilderness travel in B.C.

The Alberni Inlet

Last week I found myself sharing the deck of the M.V. Frances Barkley with a wonderfully well-behaved dog, sitting ever so patiently beside her owner.

The Frances Barkley, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Vancouver Island’s colourful maritime history, is a working vessel which services the Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound on the west coast.  It takes a full day for her to complete her return-trip journey, during which time she delivers cargo, mail, kayaks and passengers – including locals, foreign tourists and day-tripping, staycationer Islanders like me.  One can certainly see why bears, whales and eagles rule this world.  Other than a few tiny communities and lodges, most of which are hidden from view, the area the vessel services is breathtakingly rugged, wild and undeveloped in a way that brings new meaning to the old expression, “Seeing is believing”.

One of the Broken Islands

About two hours into our trip last week, the Frances Barkley was at the mouth of a remote inlet near the Broken Islands when she suddenly stopped.  A group of small boats had appeared and they now approached us.  To my amazement, the dog – her tail now wagging gleefully – and her owner, along with another half a dozen or so of our fellow passengers, jumped off the Frances Barkley and onto the smaller boats, and then rapidly sped off into the inlet.  I noticed a few classic, west coast wooden houses scattered along its distant shores.  The crew confirmed my conclusions…  Yes, indeed, these passengers were local residents going home.  No, nothing at all was unusual about any of this.  Yes, the same thing happens in the winter.  The Frances Barkley works all year round taking her passengers, mail and cargo to wherever they have to go.  Storms, fog, rain and bitter cold winds never keep her from her work.

Arriving in Ucluelet

I was left pondering this information for the rest of the day.  What I’ve known, and have even written about indirectly in this blog, came home particularly vividly during this trip.  There really are two sides to travelling the untouched, remote wilderness we have in this amazing province of ours.  When travelling it for pleasure or relaxation, as I was, it offers an unparalleled experience of the natural wonders we have here.  When travelling it is a necessity, as is the case for some of the residents of our province, it can be an enormous burden, laced with stress and cost – the purveyor of physical and emotional fatigue and discomfort.

All of this brings me to the point of today’s post:

Certain types of services – including family mediation services – are simply not available locally for many of our province’s “wilderness residents”, including those who live in the magnificent Barkley Sound area.  To get to these services, these residents must travel in what are obviously, at times, extremely difficult circumstances and for extraordinary distances.

Learning how to bring mediation services to wilderness residents so that they have the option of not travelling when it is difficult, or when they don’t want to, is important to our distance mediation team.  If you are one of these residents, and have separation or divorce related issues you are trying to resolve, we would love to hear from you.

How does travel to resolve the family issues you are facing affect you?  Is the travel a pleasure or a burden?

Photos by Susanna Jani

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *