Meet the Couple Living on a Homemade Island Off the Coast of Vancouver

Catherine King and Wayne Adams have been off the grid for almost 30 years

Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada
Off the coast of Vancouver Island is an off-grid couple living on their own man-made island.
Lesly Derksen/Unsplash
By Tanner Garrity / July 24, 2020 6:30 am

CNN’s podcast Great Big Story recently profiled a completely off-grid compound floating along the coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It’s called “Freedom Cove,” and it’s the one-million-pound home of artists Catherine King and Wayne Adams, who have lived there since 1992.

According to CNN, the home (which can be seen here), floats on the ocean, but is tethered to the shore. King and Adams’s project began with some scraps of wood blown onto a friend’s property decades ago, and has morphed into a sprawling, sustainable wonderland with a dance floor, several greenhouses, and even a candle factory, all built from recycled or salvaged materials. There are two massive whale ribs erected at the gates.

As for practical, everyday concerns, the couple seems to be on top of them. Adams (who is a carver) builds a fire each day to keep the house heated. King grows thousands of plants in a greenhouse vegetable garden. The pair of them using a floating tank to deal with waste. They don’t have easy access to take-out, let alone a local pub (it takes a 25-minute boat ride to get to the nearest town) and in the early days, before they harnessed a local waterfall, they didn’t even have running water.

But with the years have come a variety of survival skills, and they’ve since gone full Snow White, living amongst animals like herons, seagulls and seals that they’ve even given names. If it sounds like an extreme solution to modernity (neither artist could take the noise of Vancouver anymore) that’s because it is, but buried not-so-subtly within the stories of these off-gridders once thought of as loons are some effective solutions to the climate woes that plague our time. For example, King and Adams use seaweed for compost, and have repurposed hockey rink Plexiglass as a see-through floor.

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