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27 Years Living On Self-Built Island

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This is the story of a couple who built their very own off-grid island. They’ve been living there for over 27 years now, and have added on quite a bit to it. It’s called Freedom Cove in Tofino, BC.

It all started with a tiny floating cabin they built with driftwood that washed ashore after a storm. And since 1992, they have been living in it and adding on to it. Pretty incredible, isn’t it? Please enjoy the video below from Exploring Alternatives for the full story.

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They Built a Floating Tiny Home, and Just Kept Adding Onto It!

At first, it just started with a tiny house…

But as time went on, they kept adding this and that.

Now, it’s basically a floating estate with everything you could ask for!

VIDEO – 27 YEARS Living Off-Grid on a Self-Built Island Homestead

“I was inspired by birds. They’re the ones who go around and build nests without permission.”


  • Island is now known as Freedom Cove
  • It’s a super-rare place!
  • It’s home to Catherine and Wayne in Tofino, BC, Canada
  • They built it as a man-made floating island
  • It’s a homestead, art exhibit, and home
  • It all started with a small floating home built using wood that washed ashore after a storm
  • They’ve been here (moved in) since 1992
  • Gradually, over all the years, they’ve added on (more buildings)
  • They’ve built a greenhouse
  • Outdoor dance floor
  • A floating farm to grow their own food
  • They used as much reclaim material as possible
  • They use solar, generator, propane, and firewood for energy
  • They operate a floating gallery
  • Learn more below!

Learn more

Exploring Alternatives/YouTube | 27 Years Off-Grid on Self-Built Island | Learn About Booking a Tour to Visit Freedom Cove

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Darrell Doyle
    December 23, 2019, 3:12 pm

    People have been building houses for thousands of years and for some reason now we need a permit. I will agree to areas where homes are close together. I would not want to be next to someone that works on his gas line without real experience. But why do we need permits when we are on acreage, farms, ranches, etc.?

    • James D.
      December 25, 2019, 2:11 am

      There’s a multitude of reasons with varying degrees of justifications…

      -Safety and liability… Reducing chances of things going wrong and making sure everyone involved is accountable if something does happen… Helps keep contractors honest, makes sure DIY’ers follow building codes, etc… Like they say, it’s all lol’s until someone sues or gets hurt…

      -Records, which applies to both property values and liability… Knowing what has been done to a property helps calculate property values, helps subsequent owners know things like what’s beneath them and where would be a bad place to drill, etc.

      -Part of how they fund the bureaucracy that allows them to monitor and enforce the building codes and protect property values…

      -Overlaps other concerns like protecting environment, water rights, helps keep insurance valid, property taxes, resale value, liability if something you do effects your neighbors property or vice versa, etc.

      You can thank irresponsible people, people who will sue for any reason, people afraid of hurting property values or worry about buying a money pit, con people and bad workers how ruined properties, government over reach, etc.

    • Earl Colby Pottinger
      December 28, 2019, 12:05 pm

      I would agree with you if it was not for the fact that people are dumb.

      They build houses in flood plains, then complain about high insurance costs and demand government help when the insurance does not cover flood damage.

      They build on the foot or the very top of a cliff and the are surprised when part of the cliff falls down.

      They build on pilings on the beach (good) but then complain when a storm comes in (bad) and washes away the sand leaving their house feet in the air.

      They build in Tornado Alley, Florida Panhandle (hurricanes), Earth-Quake Zones, Places that have fires all the time, etc,

      People can be very dumb.

      • Sherry
        June 27, 2020, 1:12 pm

        Totally 100% agree with you, the human race is plain Dumb and Ignorant!

        • Eric
          October 11, 2021, 5:42 pm

          Ha ha ha, and you are, by definition, one of them… lol

          I’d agree with you to a point. Some people are dumb and/or ignorant. Some are not… and the rest (which is a substantial majority) are somewhere in the middle. Me? I’m one of the latter and that’s because I know that I don’t know and take steps to ensure that I hire people that do.

      • Stephan of Arkansas
        July 9, 2020, 10:09 pm

        Mr. Pottinger, yes, human beings do some very stupid things generally and in particular when it comes to housing. A major part of it is due to inadequate funds — which is why people seek solutions to avoid purchase of land, which is usually expensive if not cost prohibitive. Another part of it is shortsightedness — as when a financially comfy couple build a house on an ocean beach… and surprise surprise…. have to deal with a category 5 hurricane headed their way. Here in Arkansas, we have deadly tornadoes, which appear to have a mind of their own so one is taking one’s chance just living here — but especially when one mentions living in a THOW or in a”mobile home”. These comments are respectfully submitted.

  • D. Pedersen
    December 27, 2019, 3:53 am

    I would not call this a tiny house. They have build an entire island with several houses. Added up together, it is hardly tiny just because it is rough craftsmanship and pink.

    • James D.
      December 28, 2019, 10:55 pm


      1) It’s multiple structures, they’re just tied together…

      2) Only one of them is actually their living space, rest are what you would have if you were living off-grid on your own property with multiple structures for different activities like a workshop, garden, art studio, etc.

  • Eric
    December 27, 2019, 8:34 pm

    It is a community of…. wait for it…. tiny homes. The fact that they have created an island in the process is moot. If they were on land and of similar distance from each other they’d still be…. wait for it, Tiny Homes.

    Now, where’s that beer I wuz gonna have…???

  • Noel Canin
    December 28, 2019, 11:20 am

    Your dream embodied is just so moving. I love that you dance and that this is part of your living in nature. Thank you so much for posting this video. Inspiring and generates hope in this otherwise horrendous reality.

  • e.a.f.
    December 28, 2019, 5:07 pm

    after 27 yrs. the world caught up. Living on Vancouver Island many of us recall the start of this.
    As I recall they were able to grow their own also. this type of structure is fine in more remote areas, which Tofino was once upon a time. Now Tofino is a popular tourist destination with a housing shortage.

  • Rae
    December 29, 2019, 12:11 am

    Thank you Alex for all the information and inspiration toward the tiny house movement. Because of your site, I was able to start realizing my dreams of off grid living. Still have a long way to go but getting there faster after using your site to get my tiny houses.

    Best regards,

  • Geraldine Nazario
    June 26, 2020, 5:56 pm

    I am intrigued by your living that is talent and that is the grace of God watching over y’all. I wish and maybe one day I will have an opportunity to do something like that or share it with someone. If I ever get a chance I would love to come or see someone’s home or stay a few days at somebody’s house like that just to get a fail to know if it’s for me or not thank you

  • July 9, 2020, 8:04 pm

    Do they own the land? If not, I can’t imagine how the landowners feel about this. Having lived on several waterfront properties, I’m not sure how I feel about this.

  • Marsha Cowan
    January 9, 2021, 5:27 pm

    I have been reading articles aout your “tiny house” on the water since you built the very first one, though I think by the time the article was written another necessary structure had been added. It was fascinating to read about and actually helped push me over the edge to build a tiny house of my own. Boy, would I love to have a tiny house on a lake (sigh). Now you truly do have a small garrison of buildings. It’s wonderful! I love the whale rib bone arch at the entrance. So cool!!

  • Jamie smith
    October 12, 2021, 9:55 am

    Wow, I always joked that I wanted my own island, and you ACTUALLY did it! Bravo!!! It’s amazing, thank you for sharing your dream home island!

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