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Carole Bowler owns with her husband Pat Bowler,
the new business in Sandspit called The Trading Post.

interview conducted by Clemens Rettich

How long have you lived in Sandspit?
I have been here five years, since the spring of 1992. Patty has (spouse) been here longer, 12 years. I came up here to visit my son Scotty, he was living with Bunny, Morris Campbell's daughter. They were in the bunkhouse, and I came up to visit Scotty, do some fishing, do some diving. Bunny introduced Patty and I. And we were married six months later!

I was a cardio-tech in Vancouver General Hospital, running around with three pagers, doing pacemaker implants, and cardiac surgery but there's no cardiac ward here!

Do you see yourself spending the rest of you life here?
Oh, definitely! Yes. This is our life. We have put everything into living here, into the Trading Post. We like it here , and we have lived in different communities in BC.

What are the qualities of Sandspit and/or these Islands that you value?
I would say number one, the purity of the air, and the lack of any industrial pollution. Absolutely no pollution on the water, the air, the game, the fish, anything. I like the people, they're very friendly. When people come over to Sandspit from the other island, even tourists, they notice the change: the feeling of peaceful tranquility on this side versus the hubbub in Queen Charlotte. Most people around Sandspit are eager to help out, give a lending hand, tell directions, or even turn around and give a lift to the ferry if it's an older couple. And its just more a small-town atmosphere. That's what I first liked about it when I started seeing the people.

Nobody has to be bored living in Sandspit. There is so much to do here.

Do you have any sense what Sandspit might be like, might look like, in the next 10 years, the next 25?
We do. We followed the Sandspit Visioning (can I have some background for a side-bar?) process, and became part of those working groups. We definitely are here to stay. We want Sandspit to be an entity in ten or fifteen years. Even though we don't have kids here, we hope that there is going to be something to carry the kids forward. Patty is always talking about not cutting the second-growth forest -- leave that for the kids, they've got to have something. There's not going to be only tourism and fishing here - there's still got to be forestry, and secondary industry.

By putting up this building (gestures across the driveway to the Trading Post) - it is a store, and it is for our retirement, and our future. This is what we figure is going to carry us through because neither of us have a real pension plan. We dumped everything into here. This has to make it as far as we're concerned. But as for the rest of the building, we have lots of plans for secondary things, such as training kids in any number of things. Patty could teach them saw-milling, he could teach them carpentry. We could have a sewing store up there. We were talking just recently about buying an embroidery machine so the kids could learn that and put emblems on sweatshirts to sell.

The Gwaii Trust is there, it's in place, it will be utilized, but I don't think we have to count on that. We don't have to count on handouts. This is a growing community with young minds. And the kids are number one. They've got super minds! They can do what they want with it. They need guidance, they need teaching. I've always felt that the young people are the ones you have to nurture. You've got to watch their direction to keep your family and your community strong. If you have a strong family, you have a strong community, you grow. You can't die then.

Sandspit can be a great place to retire. I think tourism will grow here. We're far enough away that we won't ever be swamped like Campbell River or others. I think with the Asian and other affluent nations wanting the pristine beauty and the perfection that's here, that they'll come. There aren't that many more places that are accessible by air that they can get to. There's almost nowhere that's like this. It's really unique.

I think the harbour is going to play a big roll. Already we've had people walking up to the store and thinking it was a grocery store, and they're looking to see what the town is. People already are enjoying the walk up, they want to get off the boat, lose their sea legs for a while, and see what's going on in town. I don't think we have to develop the road, the beach, or anything else.

Do you see any impediments to Sandspit becoming a permanent, thriving community?
Well, for one thing if the BC government gave away all of north-western BC to natives in land claims with the consequence of dividing communities further. I think that the sooner the governments realize that all Canadians are one people, on one land, under one government, and one rule, and one set of laws, and one set of taxation, the better. No special status for Quebecers, and no special status for natives.
One fear we have is local government being able to implement changes. Changes like the one that would not make it possible for three of the properties along here [the commercial properties on Alliford Bay Road] to be resold as is. There's two bylaw's in the Moresby Island Advisory Planning Commission's little plan that states that in the event these three properties - and there's a map with arrows right to our properties - are sold in the future, this bylaw will be used to "encourage" them - and they mean force us to - relocate the businesses to an allotted commercial area. This is because in their opinion this is not a commercial area but a residential area. This makes our property worthless. What if we get sick in ten years and have to sell this? This is one fear we do have, local government being able to implement changes that force us to move.

Another fear is losing the airport to Masset.

Do you see any positive developments on the horizon that will help the community to grow and thrive?
I like to see the newer businesses starting up -- which they have been over the last few months. There's the new audio repair shop, Don's Marine, and Rebecca & Loanna, their little business is going great, its thriving, everyone supports them. And the nice thing about Sandspit is that everybody supports you.

Another infrastructure that Sandspit needs that would be good for everybody would be greenhousing and orchards and gardens. With a little bit of help you can grow just about anything here. With a little bit of shelter from prevailing winds you can grow corn and fruit trees, and so much more.

Finally, do you have any closing thoughts about your life here in general?
If you're uptight about something, all you have to do is walk across the road onto the beach, and there, you've got instant tranquillity. Sometimes we go for weeks without even watching the news, because we don't need it!
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