I dwell in a 90-person group in Canada 100 miles from the closest city. This is what a day in my life is like.
I moved to a tiny remote community.Hilary Messer-Barrow
I live in the 90-person community of Beaver Creek, Canada, over 100 miles from the nearest town.
After moving from the bustling city of Vancouver, I spend as much time as possible outside.
My small community has a small school, a diner, a tiny post office, and not much more.
Just over three years ago, I moved from Vancouver to Beaver Creek, a community of approximately 90 residents in remote Yukon, Canada.
Beaver Creek is located on the traditional territory of the White River First Nation. It borders Alaska, and the nearest (and equally small) community is about 100 miles away.
I may not have access to the same everyday essentials I once thought I needed, but in Beaver Creek, I see the stars (and the Aurora Borealis), the air is dry and clean, and nature is endless.
Here’s what a typical winter day in my life looks like in my remote community:
I’ve always been an early riser, and that hasn’t changed
The sun is precious in the winter months.Hilary Messer-Barrow
In the winter, it’s dark until close to noon, but I still get up early to walk.
It’s quiet and cold, which means getting out the door takes much longer than it used to. Layers, bear spray, and a headlamp are all essential because even in the bitter cold, winter animals can still pose a threat.
When I lived in the city, I always wanted a dog, but my apartment wasn’t the ideal setting for a four-legged friend. Luckily, Beaver Creek is dog heaven — my pup Chilli is my steady companion in all weather.
Having him forces me to get outside, which is essential for my mental and physical health. We walk every morning, rain, snow, cold, or heat.
In the bright summer months, it takes me equally as long to prepare for walks because I need long sleeves, light pants, a hat, a mosquito net, bug spray, and bear spray.
I have a short commute to work at a local community school
I only live a few minutes away from the school I work at.Hilary Messer-Barrow
Some of my work is remote and requires internet access, which is expensive and not always reliable, so I need to be prepared. Downloads are slow, meaning Netflix is not a frequent entertainment option because it requires too much data.
I also work at the community school. My “commute” to work is only a few minutes on foot, and in the winter, I take my kick-sled.
The Nelnah Bessie John School is named after a White River First Nation Elder and emphasizes Indigenous ways of knowing and doing. My experience there is rich and beautiful, and I feel I’m learning as much from the students as they are from me.
The environment allows us to cross-country ski during lunch break, hike, play broomball, and learn the Indigenous language and culture.
Afternoons consist of a second dog walk and a workout with my husband
I got a dog when I moved to the small community.Hilary Messer-Barrow
After work, I might stop at the post office.
There’s only one tiny store in Beaver Creek that carries necessities and nothing more, so online shopping is a must. The post office is open three days a week for a few hours each day, so if I’m expecting a package, you can bet I’ll be there.
Even something as simple as my subscription stick of deodorant is highly anticipated.
Once I’m home, it’s time for the second walk of the day. Chilli is excited for this one because it’s longer — on one of the trails — and often includes other neighbors’ dogs.
In the winter, it involves cross-country skiing or skijoring (where he pulls me). In the summer, he and his buddies roam while I forage for wild blueberries, cranberries, rose hips, and spruce tips. On hot days, we swim in the creek and pick morels, a special treat.
After the walk, it’s workout time.
My husband and I have fashioned a space in our garage and prefer to work out together. It’s not the gym we attended in Vancouver, but it works.
Planning and making dinners was a learning curve when I first moved
After catching up on a bit of remote work for my city job, it’s time to make dinner.
This has been a huge learning experience for me. I used to rely on takeout and ready-made meals, but now, the closest supermarket is over 290 miles away.
In the winter, because of the dark, it’s a two-day trip, and in the summer, it’s one very long day. We make the trip every six to eight weeks.
I had to learn to cook, but I also had to learn how to shop for and store food. When putting together our grocery list, I consider day-to-day meals, but also special occasions, like birthday dinners or meals with friends.
I take stock of what we have on hand and what we need. I also map out our fresh versus frozen fruit and veggie consumption and make note of what we have available in the garden during the warmer months.
After dinner, it’s more work and sometimes a long soak in the tub. I’m tired and usually ready for bed by 9 pm
My social life has definitely changed in Beaver Creek, but it’s still fulfilling
There’s only one restaurant in town.Hilary Messer-Barrow
What about outings? date? socializing? We’ve learned to adjust, and luckily, we love it.
My husband and I canoe, play board games, make pasta together, hike, bike, and walk. We get together with neighbors from our tight-knit community and have relaxed and wonderful evenings — a dinner, a fire outside, games.
There’s one restaurant in Beaver Creek, Buckshot Betty’s, and once in a while, we walk over for pizza or nachos.
It’s owned and operated by a tough-as-nails lady named Carmen, who’s a legend along the Alaska Highway. Her hit the spot on the meals nights when we just don’t feel like cooking.
My days are simple, but they’re full and very rich. The move was difficult, but now, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
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