Mar 25, 2022
Dear White Otter Fam,
As many of you know, 2020-2021 was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me and my family. In September of 2020 we decided to move from Alberta to BC. The move and subsequent months were wrought with a couple of car accidents, a new job, endless home renovations while we lived in them, a couple major health issues for our older dog and raising a new puppy. Truly, we were both working 16+ days and wondering why.
In the Spring of 2021, a very special property in town came on the market. An old heritage home that I have loved since I was a little girl and had been owned by the same people for over 40 years. It was the kind of house you would walk by on the street and no matter how many times you looked at it, it would charm you a little bit more.
The house was built between 1897-1905. I haven’t been able to get into the museum yet to see if they have an exact date. This part of the Kootenays has a long history of mining especially, and the house was built back in the dates this little valley was thriving with all sorts of settlers. It has beautiful ornate features and it is quite remarkable how much of the original pieces of the house are still intact. Discovering its little secrets has been my favourite part. Original carved brass hinges on the inside of all the doors, a doorbell key that you spin outside rings a giant bell inside, the stained glass doors and glass door handles…. It is a special place.
The previous owners built a massive outdoor shop back in the mid 1970s to use as a woodworking shop. It is HUGE. I couldn’t believe there was potentially a property in town that could give me the old heritage home I had always wanted, gardening space AND a building that could potentially become the new home of White Otter.
So I dreamt. I dreamed of the place I wanted to create so much that when we finally moved in I was shocked by the empty vastness of it all. In my mind it had become a vibrant place of art, writing, relationships, events, flowers and design. For me, I want it to be a place I can go to create and feel creative, whilst having the privilege of keeping my home separate. For guests, I want it to be a warm place of nurture, rest, recharging and creativity. I even REALLY took my dream of growing my own flowers for the space much too far this year as a beginner!
The shop appears from the outside to be a second home. It is two-storey and there is an ornate sun carved into a panel that sits at the very top above the upstairs porch, and I am not alone in admiring the character it brings with it. Other than some shelving on the sides downstairs, it is an empty shell with yellowing drywall and a big old canvas for me to dream.
So – the downstairs is becoming my studio/workspace. I will have the ability to use it as a gallery space for guests, a marketspace, a gathering place, a shop, a project space or a writing space. All or none of the above at different times. The upstairs will be transformed into short term accommodations. Sometimes rented out, but the overall dream is to have it as a space for art/writing residencies, a place of rest for kin and creatives, a place for mentees and mentors to work together and a place for family and friends to visit. I want to share some of the things that make this place so special to me, right on the shores of a massive lake guarded by even bigger mountains.
I’m thinking of calling it Mino Bimaadziwin – The Good Life.
We are not DIYing this space; I don’t think we would survive it! But I will be sharing updates along the way, and sneak peeks of the space, but more importantly an invitation to come and visit once it is complete.
So that is where we are now – knee deep in securing contractors and builders, trying to navigate a steep learning curve and dreaming big and hard. It is very strange to be creating business plans about creative endeavours rooted in culture and love but, turns out plumbers and electricians actually want to get paid. Le sigh.
Much love to you all, take care of one another and miigwech for reading,