I’m a Saturna Islander. This piece of sandstone washed by the Gulf of Georgia is the soil beneath my feet, beneath the foundations of our house, our bakery and our store. In our locale, people say you can recognize a Saturna Islander, certainly a Gulf Islander, by the way they dress and by their worldview. Surrounded by see-forever sandstone cliffs, laced by wind and water, the arbutus, Douglas fir, Garry oak, and juniper trees, and the abundance and variety of sealife has inspired us and made us who we are.
I’m a Canadian immigrant, coming to Canada in 1969 at 21 years of age, coming to Saturna in May of 1970 on the Mayne Queen and never leaving ‘home’ again. I was welcomed to the Island in wonderful ways that I did not fully understand until years had gone by. Now I try to offer that same welcome to new Islanders.
At first the Island was ‘my’ wonderful discovery; perfect for me. Later, I came to comprehend the grander interplay between the Island, all of its inhabitants and the vibrant, small, human community nestled in the valleys and, more recently, on top of the ridges. It takes time to belong, to know and see beyond our own needs and the entitlement of private property and to start to give respectfully to place and community. Islands are places to hide and places to shine. In small communities, you are known for skills and strengths and for failings — the consolation being that no one escapes this process!
With my partner Jon Guy, our family has grown up on Saturna. Each of our three daughters and our grandchildren are known on the Island, and have this ‘place’ where they have both found comfort and limitations at different times of their lives. Jon and I make our livelihood from Saturna General Store and Café, which we own in partnership.
I write about the Saturna community’s successes, transitions, and losses, human and natural. My own biases show, probably more than I would choose, but I make an effort to identify and portray all the parts of the Island’s issues. I enjoy writing and I enjoy people and watching for those moments that, captured in print, convey our Island lives to share with the readers of Island Tides.