It may not have an ark yet, but Beitush Road does have its very own covenant. (Janet Rigg/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Tlellagraph: Fudging the commandments of Beitush Road

By Janet Rigg

Our society has many traditions that mark the passage of time. Cakes with candles, fireworks and countdowns, even our alarm each and every morning — these things signal the tick-tock toward an unknown future and away from an often dubious past.

I witnessed one such ritual last night, at the celebration for Judy Perry (whose past is anything but dubious). A beautiful cake was had — a work of art from the fabulous Ms. Rinfret. As custom dictates, we lit fire upon the cake and chanted an off-key hymn to wish her happiness.

Once the fire was extinguished, we slaughtered the cake into smaller pieces to be eaten by all. I filmed the whole thing on Jenna’s iPhone to preserve what was a fleeting but precious moment.

And this is what we do as humans. We try to preserve the past so we can quell our anxiety about the unknowable future. We take photos, file documents, film events, and create massive collections of everything that ever was.

We also create rules to try and shape what the future brings. One such incredible document exists for the properties of Beitush Road.

Dated the 14th day of May 1984, a Restricted Covenant was created for the newly subdivided lots 1 to 14 on Beitush Road.

Yes, we have a covenant, which is cool to say just in and of itself.

This legal document outlines the vision for the properties that the transferor had for our little strip of paradise, back in the eighties. It’s very detailed. It prohibits duplexes or apartments, even limits each property to no more than two houses.

Rule #3 states: No residence shall be used for any other purpose than that of a private dwelling for a single family, and the land shall be used for private residential purposes only.

Rule #5: No sign or advertising matter of any kind shall be placed on the lands or on the buildings, fences, or trees on the lands.

You also can’t live in a trailer, according to Rule #6.

We can’t have a school, a hospital, or even a charitable institution, nor a hotel, apartment house, boarding or lodging house, nor a place of public resort on Beitush Road.

It sounds a bit like we wanted to keep away the young, the sick, and possibly the poor (or maybe the rich).

So what has happened to this vision of Beitush? Well, in an interesting twist, the holder of Lot 1 was the one whose interests the Covenant was meant to serve. Lot 1, as far as I can tell, is the lot that became the Andrew’s Place further subdivision. Or its the Haida House Property, which clearly isn’t following the rules.

Thus to my limited legal mind, it would seem that now the Emperor is dead, or at least divided, so likely the Covenant holds no power (if it ever did – I imagine the Beitush Brute Squad wasn’t as intimidating as it sounds).

And clearly our priorities have shifted. The Haida House is an important Tlellian business establishment, that has a sign, a big one. There are other signs too, advertising cottage rentals, or just giving a place a name (or secretly advertising a cottage rental). Airbnb’s cleverly maintain their legal identity as a private residential purpose, but we all know they make some serious cash.

I think that’s okay. We have to move forward with the times, with the shifting economics that support professions and trades on the small and local level. It still seems to me that those who settle here do so because of the natural beauty and space. I feel that the spirit of the Covenant, as I imagine it, to keep the density of buildings low, and traffic down, is preserved.

If you’d like to comment on any historical inaccuracy, please email sewnart@haidagwaii.net. I’ll be busy working on the blueprints for Beitush Towers, a mega-resort that offers sweeping views of the natural beauty of the rest of the neighbourhood. Buy now to get in on the ground level!

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