We found a hermit camping on our new property. Didn't see that one coming.
It has been my wife's dream to purchase a piece of property on Prince Edward Island since childhood. Her family is from there and so she grew up spending summers clamming at the beach and mocking the popularity of Anne of Green Gables. So this past fall she got a great deal on twenty acres of mixes brush and organic fields overlooking the Pisquid River. At first my enthusiasm didn't exactly match Alana's for the property purchase. I like P.E.I. and greatly enjoy our vacations there but had no real desire to buy a chunk of its red soil to call our own. To help convince me it was a good idea, Alana reminded me of how Aldo Leopold, an American conservationist, purchased barren land and brought it back to its wild state - and gained content for his best-selling book A Sand County Almanac (1949). Leopold is a hero of mine and the mere mention of him and the ecological restoration of his property gained my enthusiasm for Alana's P.E.I. land purchase twofold. I flew out to meet her and my daughter who were vacationing there with family and deal with all the paperwork involved in the land purchase.
I was at the airport waiting for my flight when I got the call from my wife stating their was a bit of a setback. It seemed someone else was living there; a squatter who had erected a tent inside the half-collapsed homestead on the front corner of the property. Alana. with my seven year-old daughter and overly shy Springer Spaniel, had gone out to check things before going to the lawyer and real-estate offices. When she approached the old building Alana heard a rustling noise coming from inside. She thought it was a raccoon who had taken up residence but still decided to yell out a "hello." She got a "HELLO" back. Alana, and especially my daughter, freaked out and ran back to the road to speed back to Charlottetown and report the squatter. The real-estate agent contacted the RCMP and plans were set to remove the homeless person from the property.
Surprisingly, I wasn't all that shocked about the event. After all, what do you expect when land with an abandoned home just sits unused. We weren't even in a rush to kick him off. It was pouring down rain and when the RCMP suggested we wait until the weather improved before they had the squatter removed, we agreed wholeheartedly.
While waiting out the poor weather, I went to CBC Radio in Charlottetown to do my regular syndicated camping segment and made the mistake of blabbing about our new property visitor to the host of Island Morning. Our squatter quickly became big news across Prince Edward Island. It was either a slow news week or hermits living in abandoned homesteads are a rarity out there. The next morning it was headline news on CBC Radio and throughout the print media. CBC Radio Squatter Story Squatter Surprises New Landowners
The RCMP made a visit to the property on the first sunny day and suggested the hermit move on. There was no issue; he even apologized. We then returned to the property a couple of days later and except for a couple of bottles of Methenol hydrate (and oddly an empty bag of fertilizer) the squatter left no evidence of his time there. I joked with Alana, saying our first lodger could have paid his rent by becoming our personal lands keeper. After all, we had lots of work ahead of us to bring the land back to its natural state - for starters, remove the abandoned building before another illegal tenant moves in.