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History 101: Before Raven Ridge

Before there was Raven Ridge, Will and I lived in Abbostsford British Columbia. Will had a brand new pre-fab single wide trailer, ordered directly from the Britco factory in Agassi. It sat on a the edge of his parents 80 acre farm in Glen Valley, not far from the Langley/Abbotsford border. The trailer came from the same factory he and his parents worked in. They maintained the welding and painting contracts for the residential and commercial buildings built there, along with the cleaning and maintenance of their trailer rental fleet. There was plenty of work back on his parents farm as well, and the potential of Will taking over the whole business was definitely on the table at that time. 

Will had lived and worked on his parents farm his whole life. He helped care for the animals, and spent countless hours in his father's workshop, building, fabricating,and learning the skills that we would need to build our off-grid life together. I was a city girl from Montreal, who had wandered around for years searching for a place to call home. I ended up in Vancouver after moving through a number of Canadian provinces, but never really like it. I always felt like I kind of got stuck there, possibly just long enough to meet Will.

We had only been together a couple of months when we decided to try living together. He had only moved out of his parent's basement and into the new trailer about six months before I moved in. I just remember everything being so fresh, the paint on the walls, the blossoming relationship between the two of us, and unfortunately the growing resentment from his whole family towards our new relationship. That resentment would eventually grow until we became completely estranged from Will's very large extended family and it started the day I moved in. It's just a fact of life now, but it over-shawdowed much of the early years of our life on the farm in Abbotsford and in Rock Creek too.

We'd been together just under a year when I got pregnant, and by the time our first daughter was born, the animosity on the farm was palpable. I wanted out. That was 1998.

Thanfully right around the time we got pregnant, Will and I started growing weed. We were part of the Ma & Pa Grow Op movement that started early in the 1990s. Some estimates suggest that the hydroponic weed industry was growing by 500% a year in Vancouver alone. We had a small 4 light room that never hit anyone's radars. It was a blessing in so many ways, and helped us pay our growing bills while squirreling away a small portion for the land that we dreamed of buying our own land.

Postpartum hit me really hard in August of 1998, and continued to affect me and my mental health for a few more years, but in 2001, Will and I finally got married. There was only a very small group of friends present and a justice of the peace officiating. 

I starting looking for land almost immediately. I was willing to live anywhere in the province if it got me and my baby daughter off that farm and out of the lower mainland. 

I found the Hulme Creek property on MLS right away, but it was different than most of the listings I was looking at. It was advertise as 15 acres of unserviced land for $35000. It wasn't a freehold title, instead it was called a 'tenants in common', but I didn't have a clue what that meant.  Despite being in the right price range, not owning it outright was a deal breaker for me. I moved on after giggling about the hand drawn picture of a stick deer and tree that was included in the description instead of an actual picture like the other listings. 

The listing however, seemed to wake me up out of a dead sleep and pull me to the internet to read, and reread it over and over again.  The other properties I was looking at would disappear as they got bought up and new ones would replace the old, but the the Rock Creek listing stayed unchanged for over a year. It felt like it was waiting for us to finally come and see it. I finally made the call to book a viewing, and the three of us left early one fall day for the 5 hour drive to see the place. We had never been to Rock Creek before

The realtor showed us two other properties before we finally headed over to the land we actually wanted to see. Turning off the Crowsnest Pass onto Hulme Creek road, a knowingness settled over us. After leaving the reator's Jaguar at the end of the rough dirt driveway and cutting the trees blocking access, we drove up to the only building on the property. The cabin was in rough shape, but to us it felt like home immediately. We made an offer that night and took procession January 2nd 2002. By April of 2004 we were living in Rock Creek full time, and dubbed it Raven Ridge. There were so many ravens when we got here that it felt like we were moving into their turf . Today we coexist and are proud to name the place for them. After all, they took care of the place long before we got here. 

Was it the ravens, or the very land itself that call us here? I don't really know, but I have always believed that this piece of land has a mind of her own, and we are just a stewards. We protect her and she holds safe space for us, with the ravens keeping watch over head. 

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