Couple moves to distant village and travels 10 hours to buy food

A couple who used to live in Vancouver, a city with 675,000 inhabitants in Canada, moved to a place so remote that now, every time the food runs out, they have to face a 10-hour journey to the nearest city. The village of Yukon, with 90 inhabitants, is in the far north of the country and is so small that it doesn’t even have signs with street names.

Hilary and James Messer-Barrow have always been an “urban” couple. Now 33, she says the extreme lifestyle change was difficult, but now, three years later, she has fallen in love with her new home and says she never wants to go back to the city.

Their lifestyle, however, requires a lot of planning, as Hilary and James need to make sure they bring enough food to last them about two months every time they go to the grocery store. The village’s only gas station usually stocks two or three cans of beans or pasta.

The nearest grocery store, hardware stores, vets, dentists, hair salons and hospital are all in Whitehorse, a five-hour drive away – but the community has a vital advantage in having a health center with a nurse.

In a report to Insider, Hilary says she was shocked when James, who works for the federal government, told her they had to move to the Yukon in January 2019.

“We had to buy a lot of warm clothes to prepare for minus 47 degrees in winter,” she said. “I thought it would be so lonely. But it turned out to be the best thing.”

four hours of light

The couple had to adapt to the short days and learn to cook and make the most of their shopping trips. In winter, they only have four hours of daylight – and it takes Hilary and her husband two days to complete the trip to the supermarket.

When it’s cold, the couple book a hotel to stay overnight due to the long trip, while in summer they sometimes camp to save money.

“The supermarket is 285 kilometers away and it took us five hours to get there,” she explained. “We go every six to eight weeks and I keep a log of everything we need. Our van is also equipped with a well-stocked emergency kit and we always have our satellite communicator to send the necessary messages as we don’t have cell phone for most of the trip,” he said.

“In winter, we need to be extra careful about properly packaging our vegetables. If not, they can freeze and become basically inedible. In summer, we keep our dairy, meat and frozen items carefully packaged in refrigerators so they don’t spoil.”

According to Hilary, although the trip is long, every minute is “spectacular” as they can make the most of the natural landscapes. Some images are posted on her profile on Instagram. In summer, the couple has a vegetable garden where they grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables. “I’ve never really cooked before, but now I do everything,” she commented.

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