A Process Rather Like Launching A Ship

[Image: From Moving House, via the Washington Post.]

I should have posted this a million years ago, but there was an interesting story last month in the Washington Post about a Canadian island being shut off from the national grid, leaving anyone there who has yet to leave almost literally stranded in the dark.

[Image: From Moving House, via the Washington Post.]

“On Dec. 31, the government will cut off all services to the community,” we read, “including electricity, snow removal and ferry service. Residents may keep their homes but will have to use them off-grid.”

One couple, interviewed by the paper, has chosen to stay. They have “spent more than $38,000 on solar panels, generators and other items so they can live off-grid. They’ve stockpiled goods and completed first-aid training.”

A Canadian Gothic remake of The Shining comes to mind. In fact, potential fictional storylines about winter caretakers on remote islands—whether they be science fiction or horror, about international espionage or even a medical thriller—are seemingly infinite.

[Image: From Moving House, via the Washington Post.]

As the article also explains, resettlement programs such as this—where the Canadian government pays for residents to move away from particularly remote, difficult-to-service areas—have “a long and controversial history in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

When the former British dominion joined Canada in 1949, Premier Joey Smallwood struggled to provide services to the 1,200 outposts that dotted the coast. In 1954, he started the first of several centralization programs that gave cash to households from villages with “no great future” to move to government-selected “growth centers.” From 1954 to 1975, roughly 28,000 people from nearly 300 remote outposts were uprooted and resettled, many of them dragging or floating their houses to their new communities.

It’s this last line—“many of them dragging or floating their houses to their new communities”—that leads to the images you see here, screen-grabs taken from a 1961 film called Moving House. “Here,” the narrator says, “moving house means just that… a process rather like launching a ship.”

[Images: From Moving House, via the Washington Post.]

The full film is embedded over at the Washington Post.

One thought on “A Process Rather Like Launching A Ship”

  1. No pun intended, but I found these images, and the story behind them, incredibly moving. And I don’t know that “moving” here means “sad”, necessarily. It’s more about the scale of our lives and how we quantify what really matters to us. The idea that a whole house could be made to look like a gigantic bath toy as it floats away from where it was built is both powerful and amusing, in a dumbfounding sort of way.

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