400 People Are Living Entirely Off the Grid Only an Hour From Vancouver

For most young professionals, going “off the grid” means a day on the ski slopes without a phone glued to their hand.

But how about going off the grid completely?

No electricity.
No plumbing.
No paved roads.

And (we’re assuming) no Instagram either.

That’s exactly what 400 people are doing on an island just an hour away from Vancouver. The island – called Lasqueti – is entirely off the grid.

Despite its close proximity, the island – which is the size of Manhattan – is not powered by BC Hydro’s electrical power grid, and instead relies on solar, wind, micro-hydro, and fossil fueled generators.

Think solar ovens, compostable toilets, and outdoor showers.

At Lasqueti Island, there’s little need for a wallet. There isn’t exactly a booming economy; a store gives away free things, and bartering is commonplace. Most people grow their own food, bake their own bread, and make their own wine – or buy it from others at the summertime Saturday famer’s market. If they choose, residents can also stop by the island’s one pub or Cafe. For dessert, a cookie stand works on an honour system.

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll find no shortage on the island. One dog-breeding couple lives with their 42 St. Bernards, and almost 1000 feral sheep roam the island’s soil.

Accommodations range from shanty looking sheds built from scratch, to elaborate yurts and uniquely designed large homes with impressive architecture. Some are complete with certain modern perks like flat screen TVs, satellite dishes, and washing machines.

The accommodations reflect the varying degrees of living “off the grid.” Residents can be as connected as they chose, though most do choose to forgo things like television, toasters, and hairdryers.

The idea behind a lifestyle of volunteer simplicity is to counter society’s addiction to consumerism and reliance on non-renewables. Though its residents are accused of trying to set the clock back in time, they don’t seem to mind, and stand behind the belief that power destroys the way of life.

Despite its hippy mindset, life on Lasqueti is far from care-free. Actually, it’s pretty damn hard. According to a local featured on a Global News 16×9 documentary, there is only a 40 per cent success rate when it comes to adapting the Lasqueti way of life, and many leave after a few years.

Probably because you have to work just to survive. Days are spent chopping firewood, maintaining your garden, and operating your power, water, and waste systems. This means understanding your dwelling’s energy needs and its ecological mechanics. Meanwhile, for us, all it takes is the flick of a switch.

So, who lives there?

According to its website, Lasqueti is an island of “poets, artists, physicists, fishermen, loggers, tree planters, designers, professional musicians, published authors, some small scale manufacturers, some commercial agriculture, mariculture as well as professional consultants in education, engineering, forestry, and alternate energy.”

It takes brains to be entirely self-sufficient: according to Statistics Canada, the island is the most highly educated community in British Columbia.

If you want to check it out for yourself, the island is accessible by ferry, or by private boat or plane, and features a few family-run bed and breakfast spots, which are open seasonally. 

To start, get a feel for it in this mini-doc.


Cover image from: marinas.com

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