Monday, July 12, 2010

Puffin Cove by Neil Carey

The book I just finished reading was Puffin Cove: Escape to the Wilderness of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Hancock House, 1982). Neil Carey and his wife Betty (an adventurer in her own right) went looking for a remote place to live and build a wilderness cabin. They first found their paradise on Moresby Island in Haida Gwaii in 1955 while on a boat trip. They sold their home in California (sounds familiar to me) and built a cabin in 1964 on property they purchased in Sandspit. They started as "Summer Settlers" (also a familiar ring) until they immigrated to Canada to live there full time in 1965. Next came the building of their remote cabin at Puffin Cove on leased land on the southwestern tip of Moresby Island.

Neil recounts life on Haida Gwaii in a different time. Logging and mining were bigger industries, but already starting to decline. No regular ferry service to the mainland made life more isolated and simple in many ways. Neil takes you gyppo logging, hunting, fishing and boating in fair weather and hurricane force storms. You get to meet the people that made their homes on the islands to live a good, but hard life. It must have been something to see wild storms raging on the open ocean from their snug cabin on the protected cove. Today, it is part of the Gwaii Haanas National Park.

Here's some more about Puffin Cove:

Puffin Cove at
Nearing the End of the World by Lyn Fox
Visited in 26 Feet to the Charlottes by June Cameron
Log of Baidarka 2001 Part V: Moresby Island's Uncharted West Coast
About Neil and Betty Carey on Northword
It's all interesting reading. -- Margy


  1. I apologize for missing this Margy and saying thank you to you...Thank you.
    Neil and Betty are still here on the islands however Betty has Alzheimer's. You are right about being an adventurer in her own right. A great read is "Bijaboji" published by Harbour Publishing about her paddle up the inside passage from Washington to Alaska in an indian dugout canoe in 1937 at the age of 22.

    Thanks again Margy.

  2. Carolyn - You are so welcome. I love sharing your blog with my readers. I've seen "Bijaboji" in book stores and on the ferry many times. Now that I have a connection to her adventure I plan on reading it. I am always amazed at how many people paddled or rowed these shores in pre-motorboat days. I often think we have it too easy and let things pass us by too fast. - Margy

  3. Margy you are so right...we really do have it easy. i.e. The cabin building is a dream come true but I can buy the dimensional wood 20 km down the road and I only have to look for wood on the beach or in the forest for character, not as an essential part of the cabin building.
    Betty's book is an absolutely fascinating read!
    Have a great weekend.