The Love of an A-Frame

In the early 1970’s a tall, humorous Navy man named Tom and his adoring wife Barb, embarked on a new adventure. Barb was a nurse and the couple shared five boys. Their home base was Victoria, British Columbia, but they happened upon a quiet, secluded acreage located in Qualicum beach bc. The property was just under three acres and the price was right for the time. It would make a great family vacation spot. In 1972 they decided to build a family cabin on the property. Somewhere to hunker down and relax with the boys during summer. A place to escape the everyday routine of the city. Other acreages on the road were for sale, other family members joined in purchasing their own neighboring properties. The boys would soon have pathways and trails leading to their cousins, aunts and uncles.

At the time the property seemed small, with all its trees there were not many building spots. An A Frame would be the perfect fit, nestled between the thick brush and trees. With the decision made, the family got started on their build. The deck out front would serve as the perfect place for basking in the sun, reading a book or gathering for dinner. Downstairs a separate room for Tom and Barb to have some privacy from the boys. The kitchen and living space remained open so conversations and fun could be shared. Trees from the property were incorporated into the cabin, used as corner posts. Carving their names into the posts, the A Frame became part of the family. In 1990 after their boys were grown, Tom and Barb built their forever home just down from the Cottage. They retired, traveled, spent time with family and even more time in their garden. In 2016 I was flipping through the new listings for the Qualicum beach area. Beaming with excitement I show my husband the listing. This was it! This is the one! Its acreage, it’s in the forest! There are two homes! One is an A Frame! My husband took a little more convincing than I. Once he saw it in person it was love at first sight .

The A frame Cabin had deteriorated over the years. The roof was covered in moss, the deck was unstable and it was not a pleasant place to be. I was excited to have the cabin on the property but I certainly didn’t want to be inside it for more than four minutes. I was a shopping center manager, but I had done home renovations for many years. My husband was also experienced and extremely handy with building and troubleshooting. Finally, a project unlike any other, it could be whatever we wanted it to be. It could take on pieces of our personalities and become part of us, just like Tom and Barb. We didn’t have everything mapped out. My husband prefers to have a plan and I fly by the seat of my pants. This makes for some bumps in the project, occasional eye rolling and some really funny memories to look back on. One July afternoon we decided it was time to take on the A Frame. Dismantling the bathroom and tearing out the kitchen, deciding what would go and what had to stay. Tom had done most of the construction and finishing himself but many of his family members took part. After meeting family members, we realized that this was not just our A Frame cabin. It was still part of its first owner’s family. It was sentimental, memorable and loved. The A Frame cabin is now called Stones throw Cottage retreat. It is a vacation accommodation. It has been visited by nearly 600 guests and over 100 dogs who also enjoy vacations with their families. It has carried on its tradition of bringing family and friends together.

About a year or so after we opened, we received an email from a niece of Tom and Barb’s. The email was heartwarming, as she explained her excitement. She said the family was saddened to learn the property had been sold, upset at the thought they couldn’t return to the cabin they were so fond of. Learning it was now a vacation rental was fantastic news! They could come back, make more memories. We have since had many of Tom and Barb’s family return, we have been able to meet the people who’s initials are etched in the corner posts. Many additions adorn these posts today. They tell a story of the two families that have loved this A Frame.

In October of 2019 a memorial service was held here for Tom and Barb. Their friends and family and ours joined in celebrating the lives of these wonderful people. Tables and chairs sat under white umbrellas, while loved ones toured the A Frame reminiscing about their memories. The family dog attended as well, wandering the property and drinking out of the pond. As though he had never really left.

A tree has been planted by the A Frame in memory of Tom and Barb. On special occasions you will find flowers left at the base of the tree. A plaque reads, “the song has ended but the melody lingers on“. So fitting as the enjoyment of this A Frame continues for our family and yours.
Christina Tarrant – www.stonesthrowcottageretreat.com

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