Brief history of Cabin #4 [from Rivers Inlet to Skidegate Inlet]
Built in 1927, Cabin #4 was part of the Goose Bay Fish Cannery in Rivers Inlet. It provided accommodation for cannery workers until the late 1950’s when the cannery was closed. Then during the 1980’s and 1990’s it was part Goose Bay Fishing Lodge and housed some of the many sports fishermen who visited there. Goose Bay cannery had been reinvented as the most prestigious fishing lodge in Rivers Inlet.
Sadly on the night on October 17, 1996, cabins 1,2,3 and 4 toppled off their pilings and into the waters of Goose Bay during a fierce west-coast storm. The winds were over 120 kph. One cabin hit the next and they fell like dominoes. Only cabin 4 escaped the salvagers sledge hammers and pry bars. Twice a day water rose half-way up to the ceiling as the tide came in and receded.
Just 3 weeks later, on Nov. 11, 1996, Michel and his friend Dave Blount managed to winch cabin 4 onto a new 30×40′ cedar float that Michel had built in Draney Inlet [8 cedar logs and 2 big spruce, lashing and buckets of railroad spikes] A logger named Willy from J&J Logging helped him build the float. Cabin 4 was only half onto the float when the tide came in so the boys spent a sleepless night watching the little house teeter on the edge. Later Cabin 4 was jacked up on the float, skids were put beneath and a beautiful red cedar deck was installed using beach-combed red cedar milled at Duncanby Landing.
During February of the next year, Michel and I flew to Vancouver to purchase all the supplies needed to renovate – plywood, paint, windows, nails, plumbing supplies, bathroom fixtures, electrical supplies, including the kitchen sink … the list was endless. Everything came up on the barge Marine Link.
From mid-May until June 25, 1997 Michel worked with two carpenter friends, Jim Duncan and Steve Swartz and Cabin 4 became a home once again. The attic became a loft, a big old wood stove provided heat, a 12 volt battery system pumped water that was collected in rain barrels from the roof and also provided light. We had a propane fridge, stove, and flash heater. Our float was tied up behind the tackle barge at Big Spring – a fishing lodge in Home Bay at the mouth of Rivers Inlet.
In June of the following year Cabin 4 was towed to Frog Bay for the summer as I was still working at nearby Black Gold. We had it towed back to Big Spring in the fall where we were the caretakers.
In October, 2000, Michel and I began our new job at Maude Island Retreat in Haida Gwaii. We were determined to bring our house up here and almost a year later, Sept. 4, 2001, Cabin 4 arrived at Maude Island having been towed all the way up here by the Silver Eagle and Vince Pearson and his crew. It arrived on Michel’s birthday, the best present ever.
Originally the decor inside was all white and the following year Steve Taylor and his lady Sarah painted all the rooms – soft blue and lilac and yellow and beige. What a big difference and so pretty!
Cabin 4 remained in the small bay behind Maude Island Retreat, rising and falling with each tide. On every low tide the float was resting on the ground as the bay is very shallow. We realized that we must either build a new float and find a sheltered place on the ocean at which to tie up or move our house off the float and onto dry land. The latter seemed the most sensible so after 15 months of unending paperwork in February 2007, we became property owners in Queen Charlotte – up Alder Street and left onto 2nd Avenue.
Cabin #4 was towed into town by the fishing boat, Payday and remained at the drylands sort while arrangements were made to have it moved off the float and onto a flat bed truck – no small feat. Every single thing had to be removed from the house and stored in a shed on our new property. The trip from the log sort to the final resting place had to be done in the middle of the night [numerous permits purchased]. A long pole was used to raise any hydro lines as the truck proceeded to its destination. The move was completed as planned thanks to the expertise of Derrick Van Hoek and Wayne Harder. Sitting there on its new cement blocks and surrounded by salmonberry bushes, Cabin #4 was a rather sorry sight – badly in need of fresh paint and some TLC.
In time a covered deck was added and a ramp – thanks to Matt Pierce and his artistic flair. And 2 years later Michel built on a 12×20 addition, finishing the inside with tongue and groove ceiling, new flooring throughout, an exquisite yew wood bookcase and retractable ladder to the loft.
We have kept the original outside walls, the original bathroom door and the original fir floor is the sub floor. It is hard to believe that this beautiful creation was once a cannery house but the history shall remain for ever and we are so proud of our Cabin #4.
Eleanor Bowman/Michel Crevier