port hardy day one: perfect fish and chips, bad movers, wild wildlife

Coming to you live from my own desk and my own computer, from internet in our own place -- after my first full night's sleep in ten days.

Yesterday was quite the day. The people who I hired to unload the truck arrived early, and unpacked the truck in record time. In fact, they would have put themselves out of a job, but we paid a four-hour minimum. After all, they may have turned down other work to do the unloading.

Interesting story of how I found these guys. I posted ads on Craigslist and Kijiji: heard nothing. I contacted moving companies, but (a) they were based in Campbell River, and we'd have to pay for all the travel time, back and forth, and (b) they don't want to only unload, it's not worth their time. I even contacted a temp labour company, but they had no clients in Port Hardy.

A kind Port Hardy resident saw my Craigslist ad and emailed with a suggestion: join the Port Hardy Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook group.

I looked it up and sent a request to join. The Facebook group has the same number of members as the population of the town! The moderator who approved me said, "What brings you from Toronto to our little hamlet?" She is originally from the US, then Kingston, Ontario -- a path similar to ours.

From the Facebook group, I had a flood of responses. I was very concerned that people show up, so I paid very generously, feeling that would be good incentive, in addition to just plain good. A few people stayed in touch by email, and they were the four men who came yesterday -- a father and two adult sons, plus one other guy.

This was one of those times when I was acutely, uncomfortably aware of my own privilege. Here I am moving into this big house, with all this stuff, with my dog who has better health care than half the population of the United States. And we're here because I wanted to be, out of choice rather than necessity.

These feelings were exacerbated by the fact that three of the men were Indigenous. Perhaps that shouldn't matter, and perhaps I will feel differently as I spend more time in this area with a significant Indigenous population. But yesterday, I was not entirely comfortable with it. Offering the men sandwiches and coffee, and hanging out with them a bit on a break, helped. I think all one can do in those situations is be aware, be respectful, and look for ways to connect as people.

It turned out there was good reason to distrust the guys who packed the truck. Our dining room table has deep gouges from where the points of other furniture was digging into it through the entire move. There's a kitchen chair with two similar gouges. Two broken lamps.

All this easily could have been prevented by using some of the three dozen blankets we ordered from U-Haul -- which were still in plastic bags in the truck, untouched. This morning we found some broken wine glasses; unsurprising, since I had to ask the men to not throw and toss a box marked FRAGILE onto the top of a pile.

On the day they loaded the truck, the owner of the company offered me an $8.00 rebate in exchange for a five-star review. Now that I've seen the results of their work, I will definitely write a review. Can't wait. I'll share it here, of course.

When the men left, M, SIL, and Allan went to work. I was exhausted from being up since 2:00 a.m. and did very little except for a mountain of laundry, but everyone else did a lot. SIL unpacked and set up the entire kitchen! Allan and I had to force SIL and M to stop working -- or try to, anyway. M never stops.

Allan went out to the post office to see if anything was waiting in our mailbox. No door-to-door delivery here; P.O. boxes only. He came back happy and buoyant, saying, "I really like this town." For Allan, that's practically gushing.

Later on, we managed to get ourselves together enough to go out to dinner. We had a bit of trouble finding the restaurant, because it appears to have two different names -- Captain Hardy's, but also Fire Chefs. I guessed that they changed their name at some point, but wanted to be recognized by old customers; this turns out to be correct.

It's a one-room restaurant that looks like a coffee shop or diner. And, I kid you not, I had the best fish-and-chips I have every eaten. Incredibly fresh halibut, cooked to perfection, with whisper-thin batter, perfectly crispy, perfectly flaky, plus perfect fresh-cut fries. Even the coleslaw was outstanding. There was also a lot of it. We were all so happy and amazed with dinner!

We strolled a bit on the sweet little main street, which is about five-minutes driving from our place. (Everything is five-minutes from everywhere else.) There's a couple of hair/aesthetics salons, an Ace Hardware and a Home Hardware, a clothing store, a bookstore/cafe combination, and several restaurants. It seems both a bit touristy and also very sweet and homey. And, right there on the main drag: my library, attached to the Port Hardy Museum. Very, very exciting for me.

The main street was almost completely empty when we came out of dinner at 7:00 pm. Restaurants here close at 8:00, at least this time of year. And you know what? That's fine. It's been a long time since Allan and I needed a nightlife.

This morning I felt like a new person after getting a good night's sleep. Diego and I walked around our neighbourhood, a few curving streets of very large houses, fairly close together, although with big front and back yards. More than half the homes have an RV or a boat in the driveway.

An interesting note about our yard. There had been a line of big trees between this house and the house next door, as well as a few big trees in the front yard. They have all been cut down to stumps. In Mississauga, this might be from the ash borer infestation. Here, a cougar had been hanging out in the trees, and killed a small dog next door.

We've spent the morning unpacking and setting up, but after I post this, we're going into town. We now have internet, next step is a cellphone service that isn't roaming from Ontario.

Thank you all for bothering to read this. I must admit I don't entirely get it, but it's great to write, and I'm very happy that you're reading.


James Redekop said...

What's to get? We're all hoping that this absolutely gigantic life change goes well for you guys! :)

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm following your odyssey with great interest. It's good to be reminded, every now and then, that island life doesn't always mirror mainland life. Yet it's hard to restrain "progress." Even down here where life has always been more cosmopolitan than Hardy, change is upon us. In the 15 years I have lived here, the population has burgeoned, mainly with retirees from the lower mainland, Alberta and Ontario. When I arrived strangers routinely greeted each other as they passed on the sidewalks. That's gone. Initially it was ridiculously common to see what I labeled "island cars." They were usually beaters, with odd coloured body panels, and almost always with but one headlight. They're gone. Everybody is now driving some new compact SUV or luxed-out pickup truck. There was a time when at 7 a.m.you could literally fire a cannon down the main drag. That's over. Now we get real, honest-to-pete traffic congestion.

A word of caution. Change is coming to every part of this island. Enjoy the "real" Port Hardy. Soak it up while you can. The change is so gradual, so incremental at first that you don't notice it. Then it picks up speed and, suddenly, that's all you do notice. Those of us who came here for the tranquility of small town life sometimes ask if it's time to move on, to get back what we've lost.

allan said...

We may have to combine our 0-star reviews, if they allow only one. Maybe I should suggest that if they give us $150, we'll will award them 1 star.

laura k said...

A word of caution. Change is coming to every part of this island.

MoS, change is coming to everything, every day. All of life is change. No one moment in time is the "real" Port Hardy -- or the real game of baseball, or the real grammar and language use, or the real demographics of a country or a city. Port Hardy in 2018 surely isn't Port Hardy as it was in 1950, and 1970 Port Hardy wasn't 1950 Port Hardy. 2030 Port Hardy will be different still.

I get it that some of many of these changes make you sad, because you think of a certain time as more authentic and enjoyable. Many people feel that way about the places they love.

As the newest of newcomers, those aren't things that worry me. The rapid townhome construction in Mississauga didn't worry me, but it worried people who have lived there for 40 years.

It reminds me of a song by James McMurtry, "I'm Not From Here" (lyrics).

"I'm not from here
but people tell me
it's not like it used to be
they say I should have been here
back about ten years
before it got ruined by folks like me"

laura k said...

Thank you, James. :) :) :)

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm not sure that I entirely agree, Laura. The pace of change has increased substantially in my lifetime. That has been triggered in part by the advancement of our consumer culture. I'm reminded of that every time I see a child engrossed in an iPad.

Well, enjoy it. I'm sure there are plenty of adventures awaiting you in your new home.

Kim_in_TO said...

Happy that you're there now and settling in!
Looking forward to the movers' review, I must say. :)

Stephanie said...

I am totally with James and sooo excited for you.

allan said...

The pace of change has increased substantially in my lifetime. That has been triggered in part by the advancement of our consumer culture. I'm reminded of that every time I see a child engrossed in an iPad.

The pace of change has certainly accelerated and not all change is good (or bad). Also, there are little kids with ipads all over, not just in Canada or BC or PH.

laura k said...

I agree that the pace of change has increased. There have also been other eras in history when rapid change caused great disruption -- mid-19th century, for one example. My grandmother was born in 1904 and saw a tremendous amount of change in her lifetime.

My point is that our lives and everything around us is constantly in flux. People often remember a certain time as a golden age -- but that same era, to someone else, was a horrid degradation of their own golden age. Think of the Woodstock era.

laura k said...

And thank you, Mound, Stephanie, Kim.

allan said...

Kind of like how - by coincidence - the greatest rock and roll was made during the time we each were roughly 15-25.

Amy said...

I am surprised you are surprised by the interest of your friends. Of course, we want to know how this is all playing out because we are interested in you! And your writing is so immediate that it is as if we are there with you, so we not only get to see you in this adventure, we also get to live it a bit ourselves. Very few people have the guts to do what you and Allan have done!

allan said...

Some change that has yet to come to PH: traffic lights. There are none in town!

laura k said...

Amy, thanks for that. It's a weird insecurity I have about friends and where I belong, then on top of that, my writing. One of those irrational things that goes against all evidence. Perhaps I will try to write about it. I'll leave it there for now.

Amy said...

"One of those irrational things that goes against all evidence."

Yep---we all have those.

Craig Rowland said...

You made it! Send photos of you in Port Hardy and at the library.

Jim said...

"Thanks for sharing" has turned into a cliche, but you've recorded your own "Homer". I look forward to more and also to when Alan returns with "Joy". As for change, I'll bet you find that the locals are floored when you tell them you chose to come to Port Hardy to actually work, not as some retreat from the evil big city. And please use your fine critique skills to let that moving company know how you really feel about that packing job.

laura k said...

Jim, thanks for the reminder. We posted a review, which I'll share here.

Craig, will do. Eventually.

DRF, thank you for your enthusiasm and encouragement. I might be responding on a different post, but hopefully you'll see this.

impudent strumpet said...

So what I'm most curious about is why having to pick up the mail at the post office makes Allan happy?

laura k said...

I don't think it was checking the mailbox that made Allan happy. It was being out and about in the small town with its small-town feel. Everything is very congested, time-consuming, and difficult in Mississauga. You have to leave a half-hour to do anything. By contrast, things feel very nearby and easy in PH. I think Allan was enjoying the not-crowds, not-traffic, not-mall.