Moving from a roomy home in England to a fourteen foot trailer amid the trees in the hills above Port Moody was quite a change, as you can imagine. We arrived at midnight on Halloween 1974 so the first day of November we began our new life, which was quite a change from the old.
Waking up to rain and surrounded by huge pines, dripping raindrops that sounded like small rocks on the tin roof of the trailer, was not a great start, but we took the kids out for pancakes, which was never done in England, and thought about the immediate future.
As soon as possible we would move into a house but first we had to adjust to live in the tiny trailer. After breakfast we went to the school located about a mile from the campground and enrolled the girls, they started classes the following Monday.
We also returned the rental car to the dealer and bought an old Chevy Impala for $200. It had problems but served us well for two years, by which time we could afford to invest in a big station wagon that had three rows of seats, hopefully this would end the squabbling over who’s turn it was for a window seat. It didn’t, of course, they just squabbled over something else.
The weekend we spent exploring our immediate vicinity and the small town of Port Moody, shopped for supplies and tried to make a home. The small trailer had sleeping room for six but only one person could move about at once. The kids adapted to playing round the table and spent hours colouring or playing with paper dolls. If it was fit to play outside they were not permitted to leave the small campground as we were literally in the middle of nowhere, so they were to stay in sight of the trailer at all times. Vancouver area had a ruling that campground, that had children living permanently, had to pay school tax but, in the wilds of Anmore, it was outside city limits and kids were permitted.
We had just under ten thousand dollars from the sale of our house, from this we had to take money to pay for the trip over from England. This still left us with enough for a deposit so, while the kids were at school, and Dave working afternoon shifts, we spent our time house hunting. The best option we found was a quite spacious town house in Port Coquitlam, it was decorated rather hideously but, otherwise, a nice home. So we signed the papers and moved in before Christmas, which was terribly lonely without Dave’s parents.
This was our first experience with strata regulations and the realtor hadn’t mentioned it. I guess she thought everyone knew this was the way things are.
English townhomes are each built on their own plot and you have free reign to do whatever you like with your home. Structural alterations have to have town council approval but the neighbours cannot interfere.
About an hour after we moved in there was a thump on the door and a thick envelope was pushed through the letterbox, this was not from the Welcome Wagon but contained all the rules and regulations of the strata council. We were totally amazed at the list of do’s and don’ts, especially the rule that they only permitted one animal. We had our two dogs with us in the car when the realtor took us to look at the house, so we were very unhappy to read this.
There were also countless other frivolous rules and regulations, no laundry hung in your own yard, no kids bikes out of the yard, no bikes, canoes or other clutter to be left in carports. A couple of days later a petition was brought round by a neighbour as the strata council wanted him to take down an “unauthorized” screen door. This seemed ridiculous and, as far as we were concerned, as we had not been shown these regulations, prior to moving in, they were not enforceable. However, no point fighting, this life was not for us so four months after we moved in, we moved out.
This was a big, unexpected expense but strata living seemed to be dictated by those willing to spend the time making up rules and regulations, this did not agree with our lifestyle. I like law and order but not to the colour you wish to paint your front door.
Our new home was a detached, home on a hill with a beautiful mountain view. It had a big basement and Dave spent much of his spare time making this into a home for his parents. However, Sundays were family days and we spent them exploring. Whatever the weather we packed up a picnic and found lovely trails to walk on, beaches to enjoy, and spent so much time just enjoying our new surroundings. We bought a book called “1000 free things to do in the Vancouver area”. It was marvellous and directed us to so many places we probably would not have found without it’s guidance.
We scared ourselves silly on the wobbly suspension bridge at Lynne Canyon, only a short way from Capilano suspension bridge but free and never crowded. Trails in Stanley Park that were nearly always deserted, here you could hold out your hand and the birds would come and sit on it. Mount Seymore, no pricey gondola ride needed and so much to do up there when with or without snow. In winter. I would pack a thermos of a dozen hot dogs in boiling water and another thermos of hot chocolate, this with a bag of buns and a some veggies made a fun lunch after sledding. Sometimes we would splash out and go to McDonalds but usually it was picnics. Walking on as passengers on the ferries was a great day out, we would go to Bowen Island or even a trip round the Gulf Islands, affordable and the kids loved it. One of our eldest daughter’s new friends had never been to any one of these places and she was amazed when we took her with us. She had lived here her whole life and never gone for a picnic on the beach.
In the school holidays the kids and I would ride bikes along the dikes, collect sticks and build a fire to roast wieners and marshmallows. Less than five dollars for lunch and they were enchanted.
September and they all went back to school and I painted and prettied the basement for the October arrival of Dave’s mom and dad. They had come over the ocean on a ship then boarded a train to Port Coquitlam, where we were all assembled to welcome them to their new home.
We were a complete family again.