It’s about time we tell you more about that magical island we fell in love with: Quadra. We had never heard of it before and only came here because a local HelpX host got in touch with us. By now, it feels like home to us and we’d like to share why…
Quadra is one of the so called Discovery Islands which all lie in the narrow passage between Vancouver Island and the coast of British Columbia. Its slightly odd name derives from a Spanish navigator of the same name who led expeditions in the area. Well before that, the island was already home to the We Wai Kai people, a Kwa’ Kwa’ Ka’ Wa’Kw First Nation band. Today, most of the indigenous population still lives in the Cape Mudge Reserve on the South end of the island.
Quadra’s roughly 2,400 locals make the island unique: Although the number of vacation homes is rising, there is still a tightly knit community of residentials around. And everyone we’ve met so far was extremely welcoming, open-minded and full of inspiring lifestories! We’ve met carpenters, environmental lawyers, videographers, artists, farmers, wine and cheesemakers, therapists, mountainbike builders, social workers, coffee roasters, scientists, authors, families, hermits and all sorts of self-taught allrounders. The variety is astonishing! Nonetheless, most people seem to share common ground, are interested in meeting up and helping eachother out. Our social schedule sure is busy these days and there are more events and meetups than you would expect from such a small place! Some are of the leisurely kind, others are about skill exchanges, community work or voluntary commitments. In any case, we can’t remember another trip where we befriended so many locals so quickly…
And then, there’s the landscape! Large parts of Quadra are protected within Regional and Provincial Parks. The island is a vast playground for all adventurous, outdoorsy people and it’s hard to get bored on its more than 300 square kilometres: there are a big network of hiking and mountainbiking trails, various rockclimbing routes and even scubadiving spots. Oh and naturally, the coastal area is absolutely fantastic for kayaking and sailing! However, you should inform yourself properly about the tides because there are a couple of dangerous currents around. They can turn into deadly whirlpool or at least change your trip from an exciting adventure to a horrifying-never-again-experience. So get some sea charts, folks!
You can imagine that the pristine area is an ideal location to spot wildlife! Orca whales, dolphines and humpbacks are a common sight during the summer months and some residential pods even stick around all year (yes, we’ve seen them!!). Then, there are majestic bald eagles, playful seals and sealions, black bears, deer, wolves, cougars and many more smaller animals of the forest and sea. Did you know that our neighbour Vancouver Island has the most concentrated cougar population worldwide!? Yip, the wildlife is pretty exiting around here… But wait, there’s more: The typical Canadian winter seems to shun the island! On rare occasions, we get some snow and frost but on most days, it’s about 10degrees and spring is already showing its blossoming face! It’s certainly the mildest and most outdoorsy winter we’ve ever had!
Although the island seems pretty adventurous to us ex-Berliners, most Canadians would still consider Quadra to be pretty accessible for the public: It has two supermarkets, a library, a post office, two cafés, a petrol station, a couple of pubs and a few other shops. A mere 10minute ferry ride connects us to Vancouver Island and there’s an overall OK-ish cell reception. So, there’s really no urgent reason to leave Quadra unless you want to (however, working opportunities are scarce on the island so quite a few people commute to work somewhere else every morning).
You can imagine that we are in absolutely no rush to leave the island. In fact, we decided to stick around over summer: an amazing house-sitting opportunity came up and we have also found work on the island. We are staying because Quadra and its community teach us so much every week. Our days are filled with acquiring lifeskills that university has failed to teach us: basics in permaculture and fermentation, constructional and maintenance work. The outdoor paradise surrounding us is the sweet, sweet dollop of cream on top. Here’s to our Canadian paradise!