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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

guest blogger series-kara

We love the north.

This is the start of our eighth year living north of the sixtieth parallel and I have never been happier. After my husband (from Cape Breton) and I (from Northern BC) were married, we started our lives together in a community of 3500 in the Northwest Territories. We lived cheap, worked hard (him as a nurse and myself as an instructor for a college), and put all our efforts into paying off our six figure student loan debt. This was a fun time in our lives- kid free, joining friends for beer and wings, bonfires on the beach. But after two years I got itchy feet; I knew this community wasn't going to be my home. I wanted to go further north and luckily I had a husband willing to go.

For the next two and a half years we lived in a remote fly-in-only community in Nunavut with a population of 1500. Oh how I loved the land, the people, the berries, the caribou, the sewing. I loved my job as a adult educator and realized it was a career that I was truly suited to do. This was a time of firsts for me- first time owning a house, first time growing a wee-spawn in my uterus, first time shooting a caribou, first loss of a student due to suicide, first time seeing my husband mentally drained from his job. Then there were ten completed suicides in our community just during the time I was pregnant. These along with other tragedies over our time there opened our eyes to how short life can be. The bond between my husband and I was strengthened in the arctic, our lives were changed completely with the arrival of our son and for the mental well-being of us all, we decided to move to another community to start our lives as a family.

But where to go? We needed balance in our lives. I was pretty sure balance would come with just these few requirements:
1. A home. But not a home that would make us poor.
2. A fulfilling job. Outside the home for my husband, in the home for me.
3. No rats. Life in the rat-race is not family friendly.
4. Quads. Because life without quads is no fun at all.

There was no way we were leaving the north, although we did look at homes and jobs south of sixty, but nothing caught our attention. Finally we found the perfect community in the Yukon. A community of just 400 people. A community that had been on the brink of disappearing after the main employer (a mine) had closed for good. A community that was safe, full of life, full of inexpensive homes and away from the fast-pace city life I have never been able to handle. I was a farm kid that went to high school in a town of 10 000 and university in a city of 83 000. I disliked both.

Here we found balance in our lives. We live a very simple, happy life. My husband enjoys his job and comes home happy at the end of the day. I am a stay at home mom to two curious, independent and destructive little boys. There are no Starbucks, no hair salons, no movie theatres, no malls, no international cuisine restaurants, no gas station even (although we will have one in another month).... but none of those things interest me anyways. Heck, I don't even know what a latte is. There is a very small hardware/grocery store that provides the basics. We drive 400km into Whitehorse once every six to eight weeks to grab whatever we are short on. There is a fabulous Recreation Centre where we attend a Parent and Tot playgroup twice a week all year, an outdoor pool in the summer, large green spaces to run, parks (although older and in need of some repairs) to play in, and a community full (for the most part) of friendly people.

Most of our time is spent focusing on our family unit. We camp, we fish, we hunt, we play- all as a family. There is no commute, no waiting in lines at a store or traffic light (none of those in town!), no places for us to waste our money. Homes are cheap. We are now a single income family who only need one vehicle. Of course our lives here aren't perfect. It is hard to get time to ourselves; we just had our first night away from our kids in over three years since we don't live close to family to give us a break. There are days I miss my career, but I tell myself there will be lots of time for that and to enjoy this time with my children. Four hundred kilometers is a long way to go when you want a grocery item the store doesn't carry. In a small community everyone knows what you are up to and at times it feels like we are living in a fish bowl; good thing I don't give a hoot! And I really miss renting movies.

We have so much time. Yes, I still complain there isn't enough time in the day to get my house chores done... although I bet there would be if I didn't have internet! But there is so much time that we have to enjoy our kids. There is no way I could be pried out of this community and convinced to live in a city where my so much of my time (and money) would be wasted. Instead of meeting friends for tea in a shop, I invite them to my house and we enjoy a whole pot while the kids run around the house. I have the time to walk the kilometer and a half each way to the post office to check the mail. I have the time to pick berries, dandelions and wild roses and create delicious jellies and syrups with them. I have the time to hide in my sewing lair and cut leather and fur to make mittens and mukluks. If I lived in the city I would have to work to afford a house, a second vehicle, the fees for having our kids involved in organized activities, meals out and who knows what else. I cherish the bounty of time we have that came with the choice of living here.

Our lives are uncomplicated and peaceful and, I think, finally balanced. It took us seven years and all three of the Territories to achieve.

Oh, and we have quads. Yep. We have found balance.

Kara blogs over at Went to Faro and also runs an amazing Etsy shop where she sells her handmade mukluks and mittens!


  1. what a lovely story of understanding your own life, your own needs and ambitions. good for you.

  2. That's a great story Kara. I love reading about lives that are so different from mine.
    It must be very peaceful living in a small community, especially at night when the children are tucked up in traffic noises! Your handcrafted mukluks are beautiful.

  3. I already know this from following your blog, Kara, but it's just lovely to read it as a cohesive essay. What a beautiful testament to the beauty of a simple, fulfilling lifestyle.


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