Monday, May 23, 2016

Where the heart is

Diane's husband John already looks at home at their new Winlaw property.
This is Diane's and John's new view.

Diane, deck and wall of  glass that showcases the view.

Side view of house from a distance.
As a kid growing up on a farm in Alberta, my sister Diane chose voluntarily to learn to milk the cows. She liked to ride Gypsy, the big grey horse my father bought after much beseeching from Diane and Betty. She cared for the sad stray dog she convinced our parents to keep when it showed up one day. She didn't like weeding the garden any better than her four siblings did, but unlike the rest of us, she found it interesting to watch the cows giving birth to their calves. The wrench of leaving the farm to go to the city -- in her case to attend nursing school -- was probably worse for her than for any of us. Those were the second round of thoughts I had after Diane told me a couple of months ago that she and her husband John were selling their house in Surrey and thinking of settling in the Kootenays. (Their kids are launched, or pretty much so, and Diane is following John into retirement.) But my first thought on hearing her plan was: "How can you desert me after all these years? With mom gone, I won't have any nuclear family left in the city!" Then I began remembering Diane's strong connection to the farm and thinking that after decades of toughing it out in the city, she'd probably be happier in the country in her retirement. She certainly sounded happy Sunday night when she phoned to say she and John had just bought a three-bedroom house on seven-plus acres near the small town of Winlaw in the Slocan Valley. The view from their new deck -- all valley and mountains, trees and glimpses of river -- is like what rich people have, she said. The 10-year-old house is open and bright, with a wall of windows showcasing the view. It has two full levels and the bottom could easily be made into a suite. But for Diane, it was clear the most important things were the countryside around the house, the potential for a wonderful garden, and the laid-back, friendly attitude of the people in the area. "It's too bad we didn't do this 30 years ago," she said.

According to Google, Winlaw is:
-A small unincorporated community in the Slocan Valley region of the West Kootenays. (Diane says it's about a 40-minute drive to Castlegar in one direction and a similar distance to Nelson in another.),
-On the 50-km Slocan Valley Rail Trail, which is popular with cyclists and cross-country skiers.
-Populated by "a rainbow of people, styles, hair, vehicles and lifestyles."
-Possessed of a post office, a varying number of restaurants (according to the site you search), and many home-based businesses and small farming operations.


  1. sounds perfect for them and what an adventure! Good luck Diane and John!

  2. Carol, thanks for the writeup. It was very insightful and truly captured my essence. I did indeed feel that I had "come home" when I found that place. And for John, it was like moving back to his early days in Sooke (on Vancouver Island) or in the north Okanagan. We never really belonged in the city, but for obvious reasons of obtaining an income got stuck here for away too long. Now I have a daughter and son-in-law who would be very happy to join us, if they could. At the very least, they want to come and visit. (Email from Diane)