Off the coast of Tofino, British Columbia, floats a forested, eco-fairyland of greenhouses, ramps, towers and small buildings, most of them painted fuchsia and teal. It’s the innovative and whimsical off-grid project of two artists, Catherine King and Wayne Adams.
King and Adams began constructing Freedom Cove in 1992. They did most of the work themselves, building four greenhouses, an art gallery, dance floor (adorned with an enormous painted lotus flower) and lighthouse, all on 12 connecting platforms. At different times in Freedom Cove’s evolution, they’ve harnessed solar power with photovoltaic panels or used a generator. Water comes from rain and a nearby waterfall.
King is a dancer, painter, wood carver and writer; Adams is a sculptor who carves wood and fossilized ivory and mammoth tusks. They support themselves by selling their artwork and greenhouse-grown fruits and vegetables. Fishing also provides much of their diet.
This paradise off Vancouver Island may look idyllic to people fantasizing about off-grid living. But Freedom Cove took a huge amount of imagination and experience to build, and it requires a lot of work to keep running. Especially when you think about raising two children here, which King and Adams did. You have to be tough and self-sufficient to live where the nearest town is 45 minutes by boat.
Fortunately, they installed internet on Freedom Cove, so King was able to take time away from her vegetables, artistry and myriad other tasks necessary to run a floating homestead to answer a few questions in an interview with Inhabitat.
Inhabitat: Okay, basic physics question — how does it float?
King: Our system floats on armored. That is, covered with PVC plastic blocks. That is what makes everything float.
Inhabitat: What are your favorite things about living at Freedom Cove?
King: Living in Freedom Cove is special as I am in nature. There is nature all around me. There is peace, quiet. I get to live my life according to the rhythms of nature. I am inspired by nature to be creative. This keeps me whole and healthy mentally, emotionally and spiritually. These are my favorite reasons for loving life here.
We have learned to do things by figuring them out ourselves by living off-grid. We have been allowed to think for ourselves about everything. We have been given the opportunity to really be in touch with our inner selves … really live life from this place, create our outer life from our true authentic inner natures.
Inhabitat: How do you interact with people on the mainland?
King: We are people people and interact with everyone well. People have come to visit us from all over the planet and we enjoy all those interactions. We have internet since 2013 and that has added to our communication with family and friends. Prior to that, I wrote letters to everyone.
Inhabitat: Could you tell us a little about how you developed relationships with your animal neighbors? What have you learned from them?
King: We have a good relationship with all the animals around us. The bears walk all around us on low tide, and we have never had an issue with them as we don’t leave anything out that would smell and attract them over to us. Otters, mink, martins, seals go about their lives around us and we enjoy their presence … the otters and seals have even stuck their heads up in our plexiglass square in the floor we have in our living room while they are chasing fish. The fish see us as a protective floating island they can hide under and reproduce under. The water birds swim all around us, and the crows, gulls and buffleheads come to our back window for bread. They enjoy us being here as much as we enjoy them. We enhance nature by our presence. It is a symbiotic relationship.
Inhabitat: Tell us about the Freedom Cove Tofino boat tour.
King: While COVID-19 is happening, tours are shut down. Hopefully the spring will open things up again. Browning Passage (250-726-8605), Tofino Water Taxi (250-725-8844) and our son Shane Adams (email us to reach him, [email protected]) will all bring people out to us. The tour of our place is given by us and is an hour. We ask $10 per person for a donation. We are open for tours (outside of COVID-19) from June to October, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shane asks $150 return trip for the half hour each way boat ride for one person and $25 more for two people and 50 more for three people. People should phone the other companies listed for their costs. They can take more than three people.
Inhabitat: Do you rent out space so visitors can spend the night at Freedom Cove?
King: We do not rent space for accommodations.
+ Freedom Cove
Photography by Aaron Mason