Canadian Couple Lives on Their Own Floating Island

When most of us say we’re "going off the grid," it usually means we won’t have cell service for a few hours. For artists Catherine King and Wayne Adams, it’s meant living on a homemade island near Tofino, British Columbia for the last 24 years.

The couple—he is a carver and she is a retired ballerina, writer, and painter—began building the fortress in 1992 and have since constructed a house, dance floor, lighthouse, four greenhouses, and more. It was all done with a hand saw and hammer; as Wayne told Great Big Story in the video below: "I know every board and nail by name." The island is tied to the shore and Wayne estimates that it weighs about 500 tons.

The couple has dubbed the area "Freedom Cove," and their subsistence living involves catching fish, growing produce, and generating electricity with solar energy or, occasionally, a generator. They collect drinking water from a nearby waterfall or through rainwater, and they raised their two kids there.

To get to Freedom Cove, one has to travel by water, but you’re welcome to make the trek: Wayne and Catherine offer tours for inquiring minds.

Wayne told Great Big Story that he never gets seasick and, in fact, "When I go to town I get land sick." After seeing the amazing structure, we can understand why.

[h/t Digg]

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Themed Geography Grab Bag Quiz

The U.S.-Canada Border Runs Directly Through This Library

Though the Haskell Free Library and Opera House might not be as well known as the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty, it's undoubtedly one of America's most unique tourist attractions. Completed in 1904, the building is stationed directly between Stanstead, Quebec, and Derby Line, Vermont, with the official U.S.-Canada borderline running right across the library's floor.

Martha Stewart Haskell and her son, Colonel Horace Stewart Haskell, both Canadians, built the building as a tribute to Mrs. Haskell’s late husband, Carlos. The family hoped that citizens from both countries would use it as a “center for learning and cultural enrichment,” according to the official Haskell Free Library website.

The Haskell is divided between the two countries. While the library’s official entrance is on the U.S. side of the building, most of the books are on the Canadian side. The opera house is similarly split, with most of its seats in the U.S. and its stage in Canada. As Atlas Obscura reported, it is often said that the Haskell is the only library in the U.S. with no books, and the only opera house in the country with no stage.

U.S. Border Patrol Agent Andrew Mayer speaks to Nancy Rumery as he stands on the Canadian side of a line on the floor of the Haskell Free Library and Opera House that marks the border between the U.S. March 22, 2006 in Derby Line, Vermon
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Passports and other forms of identification aren’t required to cross from country to country in the library, though the Haskell’s website notes that the border inside the "building is real and it is enforced.” Visitors are expected to return to their side of the border after a visit; if they don’t, they risk possible detention and fines.

Even beyond the building's unique position, library director Nancy Rumery told CTV News that Haskell staffers—Canadian and American alike—consider the institution to be like any other library in the world.

"We're just trying to be the best library we can, and our community is made up of people from two different countries," she said. "We don't think of it in that big symbolic way that I think a lot of people do. These are all our neighbors and we do our very best to help them on their life-long learning journey."

This article originally ran in 2016.

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