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About Corry & Nancy

This is the text of an account by their son Richard:-
The property had been vacant for over five years when my parents Corry and Nancy de Candole discovered it in 1963, almost by accident.

​They had been looking for retirement property and were about to return to Alberta without finding anything that appealed to them.

​E.D. Thwaites, a Qualicum Beach pioneer and founder of Thwaites Insurance & Realty, happened to be in the office on their last day and when he heard they had found nothing gave some advice they felt they couldn’t ignore:

‘Don’t leave the Island without having a look at the old Doukhobor place.’ At the time the property wasn’t even listed. On their way to the ferry they drove through Hilliers.

​My parents were immediately attracted to the property.

​ “It was so peaceful and private,” remembered my mother in a story I wrote about the property. “It was at the end of the road and totally surrounded by forest. Corry couldn’t wait to get back into town to make an offer.”

​They barely even noticed that the homesite was a collection of weather-beaten sheds and buildings, none of which were suitable for a house. Their offer of $9,500 for the 120 acres was accepted and that winter they hired Qualicum Construction to build a 1,400 sq. ft. house designed by my father.

Dad spent the next 20 years tearing down sheds, restoring other buildings, building a log house, and putting back into production a field that had been used by the Doukhobors to grow corn, cabbages and potatoes.​

Our first summer I remember spending the better part of a morning beating through the bush trying to find the cemetery. This was knowing that only 15 years earlier Mr & Mrs Thwaites had driven their car almost to the gate for Michael’s burial. The forest had grown back that much.

While vacant the property had been used for weekend parties. The main house burned down the first year my parents owned it. And more than a thousand feet of cast iron irrigation pipe had been stolen.  The first fall we lit numerous burn piles to dispose of the fallen down sheds. This led to having a bonfire on Thanksgiving with family and friends, a tradition we still observe. Over the years the Doukhobor corn field by the creek has grown our annual hay crop as well as served as a vegetable garden.​

The Doukhobor cottage had no power or running water but it was where most of our house guests slept during visits. During the ‘70s it was often occupied for extended periods by twenty something friends of the family wanting to get away from it all and for shorter periods hitch-hikers my parents would pick up on their way out to the west coast.​

In the fall of 1980 the cottage even served as a fictional mountain hideaway for the last remaining member of the Butch Cassidy gang. Producers for the Canadian movie Harry Tracy: Desperado starring Bruce Dern, Helen Shaver and Gordon Lightfoot stumbled upon my parent’s property and immediately arranged to use the cottage for filming.​

My wife Wendy, our two children Emily and Derek, and I moved to the property in 1992 to support my mother who had been on her own for seven years. We carried on many of the farming projects begun by my parents and started some of our own, especially after Emily and Derek joined 4-H. In particular we built up a herd of goats and raised meat bird chickens on pasture. Maintaining the 70-year-old wood buildings and fences was a never-ending project and the problem was ultimately solved by the next owner with a bulldozer and numerous fires. Only the barn and the house my parents built are still standing. The cemetery is now the only legacy of the Hilliers Doukhobor colony. Today my wife and I live only a few steps away from the cemetery on a lot we subdivided from the property.

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