September 10th, 2017 by Jan

We explored a lot on our trip to Haida Gwaii. We also had time to read and reflect.

One book I breezed through was Gumboot GirlsAdventure, Love & Survival on the North Coast of British Columbia. Edited by Lou Allison.

This was a collection of stories by women who went to Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert in the 70s.

Great concept for a book. Unfortunately, it was one story told 34 times. I kid you not when I say just about every one of the stories started with the same words and continued on in the exact same fashion. Only one story was sort of different from the others.

They began…
In 1973 I moved to … It was 1973 when… I moved in 1973… The year was 1973 and I…
They all ended with…
I will forever be grateful for my time in the North.

In reality, no two people have the same story, but you couldn’t prove it from this book.

Thirty-four middle class, white women, usually from the mid-west, seeking adventure after graduating college. They were defying their parents, as they moved with some hippie guy to the North coast. All in search of the simple life and living off the land.

Blah blah, blah…

Still, I have to laugh at what they deem the “simple life” though. There is nothing is simple about hauling water, chopping wood, growing your own food, building your house out of driftwood, and surviving the cold, wet winter storms in the Pacific.

I guess, when you’re 20 years old, and high on drugs, it’s more fun to live this way — but mostly they wrote of working long hours, for shelter, heat and food.

Most made money as school teachers, nurses, or they held jobs in the fish canneries. All had boyfriends or husbands, who fished or logged. All got pregnant and left when it was too hard to raised their children off the land. Only a very few grew old there.

I graduated in 1973 and remember my adventures at that time.

I hitchhike east and landed in Massachusetts. Like most hippie girls at the time, I also was exploring my freedom, but unlike a lot of girls, and while I didn’t know it, I wasn’t ready or prepared for life on my own.

I was lucky I landed at the home of Chukki Mains. Chukki took me in. She gave me a home, some time, and guidance. She helped me to mature.

While I was reading this book, I heard the news of Chukki’s death.

In Prince Rupert, I found some interesting fabric at a quilt store. This week I will start a quilt, and will remember Chukki. This incredible, creative, and loving woman made it possible for me to live my own “simple life” in 1973. I am  forever grateful for my time with her.

One thought on “theyearwas1973

  1. LauraB

    I know one woman who was a gumboot girl. She is still there, raised her child to adulthood there. I have always wondered about reading that book, and now I think I maybe don’t need to. It sounds like a rich adventure you had. I’m sorry about Chukki, and happy that she was there for you when you needed her.


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