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Get Outta Town: Quadra Island

Words By Annette Yourk
Photos By Boomer Jerritt

At once, this peaceful destination typifies “island life” while following a path of its own.

 


 

Quadra Island is the kind of place that offers free wood, free books, free money and free hugs; the kind of place where an “Eggs For Sale” sign becomes an invitation and conversation about life on the farm. It’s the kind of place that reveres intellect and proves it by creating a casual institution of higher learning, fondly referred to as “U of Q,” where everyone is entitled to free education. Classes are offered in chicken husbandry, the sex life of seeds, the delicate management of bear encounters, slam poetry, and holiday conflict management. The curriculum is broad and practical. You may learn more than you want to but you’ll take some stories home.

There is no conclusive portrait of Quadra. A hundred yarns may get you closer, but this island won’t be nailed down. Buried under deep middens of human history are generations of First Nations communities and cultures preceding European settlers. The geography itself has growing pains, resulting from a history of shifting plate tectonics, ravages and storms. Humans are a mere speck in the scheme of things. Yet they remain, going strong, appreciating Quadra while walking her wooded trails, watching this generation’s adults raise their own fortunate children.

There is a feeling of independence here, but there is also work to do. Consider the woodstove, the buzz of the chainsaw, the smell of gas and moist aromatic wood as the chips fly. Quadra is a D.I.Y. place, an “if you build it they will come” place, which leads to ambitious shenanigans. The results: a beautiful community center, a Fall Fair, Theatre Quadra, Friday Flicks, Mayday (a community celebration and annual pilgrimage for some,) studio and garden tours—each an opportunity to taste island life. Each accomplishment is the result of dedicated community members stitching the pieces together.

The island plays the role of adventure base camp and is well known for its dedicated trail building and biking communities and, more recently, trail mapping. More people show up to build trails than to ride them—a win/win for everyone. The possibilities are numerous, and not only geared toward adrenalin junkies. Mountain bikers can descend smooth, wavy slaloms or tackle burly, bone-rattling lines. Mellow trails are accessible on the south end, while northern destinations lead up mountains to lake systems and oceanside bluffs. A burgeoning rock climbing and bouldering community has also hatched. Do keep your dog on leash, as wolves are admired and accommodated here.

Quadra is the kind of place that people fall in love with before getting to know the object of their desire. You know the scenario—you spot her across an uncrowded beach and know it’s destiny. But Quadra is demure, asking you to take a breath, relax, and be in wonder. Every few minutes you hear something out there, breathing. You know it’s something large and sentient, but all you can do is listen in anticipation while your imagination conjures the possibilities. Quadra is deep therapy for nature deficit disorder.