Tlellagraph: Reflecting on the Queen of the North and Cosmic Coincidence

Ferry captains are getting younger and younger these days. (Janet Rigg/Haida Gwaii Observer)

By Janet Rigg

Though spring is a time of renewal, I’ve been thinking about loss. It was triggered on the day of departure for our spring break trip to Smithers. It was March 22 — the anniversary of the sinking of the Queen of the North in 2006. I was about to board the Northern Expedition with my entire family.

Cosmic Coincidence is not lost on me, so I figured it was in my interest to reflect on things lost. First, I recalled my memories of the day that the Queen of the North sank.

My husband and I had just moved to Haida Gwaii only two weeks prior, and were staying with my sister. It was a time of great change. We had moved to this quiet corner of Beitush Road from the bustle of downtown Montreal. It was quiet. Really quiet.

But also lively, and beautiful, and full of space to breathe. It wasn’t so remote. Sure it was a seven-hour ferry ride, there was no cell coverage, and limited shopping. But there was shopping. There was everything one really needed.

Then the ferry sank.

I remember hearing my sister exclaim her horror outside our bedroom door in the early hours of the morning. It was unthinkable. What had happened? We would be cut off from the world.

My task for the family unit in this emergency situation was simple: get milk. We didn’t have any, and if there was no ferry there would be no groceries. Unfortunately I’m not an early-to-rise person, so I didn’t reach the grocery store until near 11 a.m.

The shelves were largely bare, the dairy section just row upon row of empty racks. I began to feel the panic. I came up behind a gentleman who was sweeping the entire shelf of hot-dog buns into his cart, with a dramatic arm gesture fitting of any post-apocalypse scene.

And then my mind did something strange. It figured that if there was to be no access to food for some time, luxury goods would be the hardest hit.

So I picked up a pineapple, some blue cheese, and a carton of rice milk because it was all I could find.

I walked out and truly wondered about the place I had now chosen to call home…

I’m happy to report that barge service was put into place quickly, and there was little disruption in the flow of pineapples. The system took care of us, and the community bounced back.

With loss came challenge, and a reminder that we aren’t guaranteed anything.

I’m also happy to report that our more recent ferry crossings were non-eventful and comfortable. During our day sailing on the way back, we were even able to visit the bridge to see where the magic happens. Well done BC Ferries in recovering from adversity.

Although the timing was somewhat painful, it is also nice to see that BC Ferries have reduced their fares in the northern routes by 15 per cent. This came into effect a week after we returned, as well as the return of the Northern Adventurer with its better cabins.

This Cosmic Coincidence prompted me to reflect on timing. Timing is everything, and though the timing of our ferry trip was off, the timing of the return of Soccer Saturdays here in Tlell couldn’t have been better.

It was a beautiful day for the advent of Soccer Saturdays for the 2018 season. Kids from all over the island will be vying for weekly victory, or just a good learning experience. Thank you to all the volunteers making that happen. The soccer association is still looking for help, so do lend your time if you can.

This is a lively time of year for Tlell, so we ask for you all to park as efficiently as possible in the parking lot of Crow’s Nest, and to have decided your particular flavour of ice cream before you approach the counter.

We also advise Tlell residents to avoid doing their recycling during any Saturday in the months of April and May, as many vehicles will be using that area for parking during Soccer Saturdays. A faithful reader said she already learned that lesson the hard way last Saturday.

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