This past week, my husband and I closed the deal on the purchase of this lovely cottage on Keats Island. It’s still not hit me that this is really ours, I’m feeling quite amazing and lucky about it all!
For the past few years, Ianiv and I have been toying with the idea of a summer cottage (and a larger house). We live in a 3-bedroom plus office townhouse nestled in a really great community walking distance from Aiden’s school. Finding the right house without doubling our property cost was proving… difficult. It’s an expensive market.
While we’ve tried to research and juggle both priorities, a summer cottage seemed more like a dream that wouldn’t come true. Most locations we considered, such as the Sunshine Coast, were too expensive. I spent hours researching locations and prices and random lakes all over BC. We even considered border hopping. We decided against an RV community and against a townhouse community. Those felt too “packed in” and not the quiet and nature-inspired cottage life we dreamed of. The idea seemed not destined to happen.
And yet, it has. Keats Island came onto our radar last summer when we visited some friends there. Keats is a great little island, completely on its own with no local restaurants or stores or other amenities, and yet bursting with a wonderful community and beaches. At the time, we dismissed Keats as an option since it’s more-or-less boat accessible only. Well, you can take a water taxi or a ferry plus Stormaway or water taxi, but it’s a time consuming and expensive process. The goal for us with a cottage was to find somewhere close to Vancouver that would be easy for us to go to anytime we wanted.
After researching so many other options, buying a boat no longer seemed expensive in comparison with the cost of other locations. Really, a boat was a fraction of the price compared to other cottage destinations, so for us it became a non-issue. We’ll simply buy a boat. And learn how to operate it, of course. So, with Keats back on our radar, we paid a visit to the island to check out all the available houses as well as lots, for building. Building a pre-fabricated home was an option we were considering, but none of the available lots on Keats were very family-friendly (lots of cliffs or rocks that needed blasting).
The cottage above fit our requirements, plus it came furnished. Since everything large must be barged into Keats, that was a nice perk. The cottage is 3 bedrooms, enough for us to have guests over (and we love the idea of guests!). Since both of us work from home, we can spend more time at the cottage in good weather anytime we want, and yet still return to Vancouver to enjoy the Summer lifestyle we have here. It’s really a win-win for us.
This weekend, Ianiv and I are headed to our new cottage to clean it and inventory what is there, then winterize it. A big learning process for us. But still, SO EXCITING.
Island Life here we come!!
Despite the fact that I have lived in Vancouver for most of my life, I had never been to Bowen Island. A couple of weeks ago, we decided to check that off our Summer bucket list with a last-minute day trip. We walked on the ferry with almost no planning, arriving on Bowen in need of coffee and some idea of what to do with 2 kids. In this post, I’ll outline some ways you can enjoy Day Tripping to Bowen Island with Kids.
A Day Trip on Bowen Island with Kids: What to Do
- Walk on the Ferry – Although you won’t be able to explore the whole island, you can certainly spend a whole day on Bowen without a car. By walking on the ferry, you save yourself time (and money). Grab a map of Bowen while on the ferry.
- Go for a Hike – all the resources I read suggested the a hike to Killarney Lake (pictured above) from the ferry terminal only takes about 45 minutes and is very kid-friendly. It’s not, if your kids are 5 and 2. Although we did walk to the lake, there was a lot of grumbling and unhappy faces. Plus, you also have to walk back. There wasn’t anything kid-friendly at the lake, so it was a bit of a let-down. This trail map gives you an idea of the paths and times. Instead, I would suggest you head partway up the trails to see the fish ladder / small Bridal Veil Falls, then continue on the trail until you see the sign for the Community School. This makes for a great loop and our next tip. (Note: the hatchery on the way to Killarney Lake may sound tempting, but it is not much to look at)
- Play at the school playground which rests at the top of Mount Gardner Road. This is (I believe from the signs) the exit from the cross-path near the fish ladder, and the main road takes you back down to the ferry terminal / shops.
- Plan transit if you want to see anything beyond the ferry terminal shops, and have small kids, plan to take transit. There are some hills and the distances between areas are not as close as they seem.
- For older kids, take bikes if you want to explore further, and have kids who are capable bikers, you can bike along many of the trails
- Play at the beach if you go South (left if you’re facing away from the ferry terminal – see map), you can take the boardwalk to a nice picnic area and beach at the marina. There’s also a trail to a viewpoint (which we didn’t know about). The kids spent a lot of time searching for rocks and treasures here, though I would not recommend it for swimming. Other beaches are apparently nice for swimming.
- Enjoy laid-back dining According to locals, the best shops are all right at the main strip near the ferry, though up in Artisan Square (15-minute adult-speed walk uphill or bus trip) there are other options such as Artisan Eats. Near the ferry terminal are options such as Tuscany Pizza (more upscale, quite delicious) and the Snug Cafe (delicious pastries, lunch looked good!)
- Fill up on treats! Really, what is a day trip without treats. There is a super cute candy shop, ice cream, and even gourmet chocolates. And don’t forget PIE! Who can forget pie? You must eat or take home something from the Lime and Moon Pie Company, located on the pier just at the ferry terminal
Since we went to the lake (bad idea) and the kids were exhausted and hungry, we hitched a ride back into town for lunch. Well, I had to walk since Damien was sleeping in the Ergo. We never got to visit the playground, but it looked great!
I think now that we know more about Bowen, our next trip will be even better! Hope you can learn from some of our mistakes and subsequent research!
We spent this past weekend at the Springs RV Resort in Harrison Hot Springs, a luxury resort for RV owners. Just 90 minutes from Vancouver, Springs RV Resort offers the benefits of resort living (pools, hot tubs, club house, warm weather, community) at a fraction of the cost of cottage living in British Columbia. By becoming owners at Springs RV Resort, you become a part of what looked to be a very tight community. We have been considering a local vacation property, so we thought this visit was a great opportunity for us to see if the RV lifestyle was for us.
Growing up, I spent my summers in Ontario at an RV Resort in Sauble Beach, so I was familiar with this kind of RV lifestyle. Most of the owners here are not taking their RVs elsewhere, but instead are treating this as their cottage during the Summer months, staying for the whole summer or coming from time to time. The Resort was bustling with activity: kids on their bikes, families playing in the pool, people sun tanning and many people enjoying their extended living spaces. Unlike the RV experience I grew up knowing, with grassy yards and simple fire pits, most people here have raised decks and gazebos, outdoor kitchens and beautiful fire pits. It’s quite the lifestyle!
The Springs RV Resort Community
After completion of the second phase of construction, the 12.5 acre Springs RV Resort will have 209 RV Owners. Unlike some other RV sites, Springs RV Resort only offers a select number of rental lots, transitioning to a full ownership community. This kind of organization promises to create a very tight knit community that I think many people will find appealing.
Most of our 2 night, 3 day visit it felt like we were staying at a luxury hotel. The site has been designed with a very “BC” feel, with the exposed wood buildings and landscaping, and the pool was perfect. The on-site playground, the vintage carousel, and the outdoor pavilion offered more benefits to the community. The carousel has a lot of history, coming from the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, and is quite a unique feature for the kids.
While we were there, we took part in one of the weekly Gourmet Burger nights in the pavilion. The same weekend the kids made tie die shirts and had an outdoor movie night. I can imagine the existing spaces and activities, combined with the new club house building, will go a long way to offering additional places for the community to expand to and mingle together outside the confines of the RVs and lots.
Yesterday, I joined some friends to visit Confederation Park in Burnaby for some play in their new water park. Our family has made a few visits to this park after a trip to the mini trains at Burnaby Central Railway across the street.
Confederation Park has been undergoing renovations for more than a year, with the water park opening earlier this summer and the playground opening very recently. In fact, Burnaby is having its Grand Opening celebration on Saturday July 19th (details here).
On our return trip from Squamish, we stopped at both Shannon Falls and at the Britannia Mine Museum. We spent about 2.5 hours in the museum and could easily have spent twice as long, particularly if the day had been nicer.
I have been wanting to visit the mines for some time, but I was a little wary that it would be too much for Aiden, with the loud noises and his very sensitive hearing. It turns out, the loud noises come in 4 short bursts, with lots of warning, so you really can cover your child’s ears (and wear the supplied earplugs for yourself) and not face much of an issue. The largest sound was the whistle at the end of the tour, and Aiden missed that since he had to rush to the washroom.
The tour takes you through a section of the mine where a tour guide shows you some of the equipment used over the years of the mine’s operation, as well as some of the challenges faced by the workers. What a horrible work experience, the hours of backbreaking labour with almost no light, no space, and the likelihood of an early death. Ick.
In addition to the tour inside the mine, you can visit the factory to see the conditions there, as well as several outbuildings that house equipment used during the operation of the mine. There is a short video about the history of the mine as you come into the Museum. I felt like we learned a ton about mining and the history of the area, I really liked the whole experience.
For the kids, the real highlight was the panning for gold. Ok, it was a highlight for us too. I was so into it I didn’t take any photos. Oops. Unlike other places where panning for gold has only been sand, the Britannia Mine Museum seeds the sand with gold shavings and many other stones to be found. This is hugely satisfying for kids and adults alike!
On nicer days, there is a great play area with sand, water, a boat structure and a train tunnel, as well as a picnic area and on-site food options (not open when we were there). Plan to go on a nice day if you want to take advantage of these great features.
Check out all our photos from the Britannia Mine Museum here.