How long have you lived in Sandspit?
An interview with Gerry Bellefleur
We moved here January 9, 1981, 16 years-working on 17 years.
What were the reasons for your move?
[I was] out of work down south, laid off about 3 months and was offered
a job for 30 days for Thompson Logging, as a mechanic-for 30 days, and never
Are the things you moved here for, still here? Do you continue to live
here for the same reasons?
Well, I was raised in a small town, up till I was 12-13 years old. And I
like small town living. I've lived in the cities-I've lived in the cities,
Toronto, Montreal, Fort Worth (Texas), and Vancouver. And I've lived in
little towns. And I like this [Sandspit], I like the country, I like the
people, and then I started my own business, and I've just never looked back.
It's a great place to raise children, a great place to live. I know everybody.
To me, it's the only place to live now.
We live at Mosquito Lake in the summer. I couldn't afford to leave here.
Where am I going to get this anywhere else? I've got it made here.
Do you see yourself spending the rest of you life here?
Ain't no question about it.
Do you have any sense what Sandspit might be like, might look like, in
the next ten years, the next twenty-five?
You may see some cosmetic differences. I don't think the town's going to
die and I don't think its going to get any bigger. It's almost a retirement
community, already. There'll always be some logging, someone is going to
do it, be it white or Haida. There'll always be fishing here. It's a great
place to retire. Hell, where can you find any better-if you're an old man
and you can't shovel snow, you don't have to shovel snow.
As far as the kids going to school. Well, I have two brothers and a sister
in Vancouver who would gladly take them in through university. I've got
two lots, I've got a place I can build two more houses here. I've got enough
property to legally build two more houses. If the boys want to stay, they
can build their own homes here.
Even if the airport went, we'd still be here. I think we're just about
through the current downturn. This is the way I see it-the [decline in]
logging's gone about as far as the natives are going to let it. They're
loggers too. They have to make a living. Logging is a renewable resource,
lets face it, its just like growing wheat, it takes longer to grow the crop,
but it's there. Look at these trees (points to the sides of his property),
this has all been logged here. That's all second growth, about 40 years
old. Its all skidder trails right in here. This was all flat. And look at
the size of these trees. So you know, don't tell me that logging is killing
the Islands. It's not.
Do you see any impediments to Sandspit becoming a permanent, thriving
community? What are they, in your mind?
The Indian land claims. If the government would get off their ass. I don't
even understand what the Haida want, I don't think they have done a very
good job of getting what they want out. I think everybody should sit down
and settle it now! Let's move on with it." We're all Canadian. I've
got two kids who were born here, I want to know what rights do they have?
Are there special rights because they were born here? I say don't pick on
your neighbors, mind your own goddamn business, and live a good clean life.
Its that simple.
I don't like to see Harbour Air leaving. I don't like to see that
happen. And I've heard rumblings that they're going to be moving up to Masset
because there's the lodges up there. Well, this is all good and fine, except
that they're going to find their Convairs on a bad day can't land up there,
so they are going to have to come down here and bus their people up there.
That's not cut and dried yet, I think. I think their moving out to Alliford
Bay, it may be a good deal for them; I don't think it's a good deal for
the town, I think its going to cost us a little bit. You never know, we've
got that Sandspit Airlines, he may decide to come in here with a couple
of airplanes and he'd run them right out of business. And I can't see Canadian
leaving, and if they did Air Canada would move right in any ways. I think
we'll always have the airport. Masset would love to have it just to save
their community. But what's the point of saving Masset if you're going to