For pretty much my entire life, I’ve made countless treks to a remote family cabin, beyond the end of the road, in pretty much the middle of nowhere.
Door to door, the epic trek takes roughly seven hours, and that’s when the travel gods are smiling. The journey is fraught with major potential delays, including two B.C. ferries, three hours of gut-wrenching turns on the Sunshine Coast Highway, and a final motorboat crossing into the great beyond.
I’ve always believed that was the kind of effort you simply had to endure to reach true, boat-access-only mainland coastal paradise.
On the B.C. Day long weekend, I was shocked to discover a similar scenario exists mere minutes away from my home in East Vancouver.
Our friends Cher and Romain recently purchased their own slice of heaven in a place called Brighton Beach. Ever heard of it? Until recently, neither had I. Brighton Beach is not to be confused with New Brighton Beach, the East Van park and public swimming pool just west of the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge.
Brighton Beach is close by, but altogether different. To get to this hidden, boat-access only-enclave, you’ll need to cross the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge and drive into Deep Cove. That’s where we met Cher and Romain at the marina.
Parking is a major challenge in the now-completely overrun Deep Cove (something about Kate Winslet’s social media enthusiasm for Honey’s Doughnuts?), but luckily my sister lives in the Cove so we had a reserved parking spot.
We tossed our day bags onto Cher and Romain’s boat for the trip up Indian Arm on a brilliant summer day.
Along the way, Romain pointed out spectacular waterfront homes in all manner of designs, some of which included elevators, escalators and helicopter pads. Romain also slowed down to show us the home that was featured in the opening credits of the near-classic Canadian show Danger Bay.
As a kid growing up just outside of Paris, Romain watched Danger Bay on late night Parisian TV. That show, that house and “that cute girl driving the jeep” served as Romain’s first glimpse of West Coast Canada. You can imagine his excitement when, many years later, he ended up living in Vancouver, and now motors his own boat past the “Danger Bay house” on a regular basis.
Within 10 minutes of leaving the Deep Cove dock, we arrived at Brighton Beach. The 22-lot development is just beyond the end of the road on the west side of Indian Arm. The beach rings a beautiful, broad bay buffered by granite cliffs and towering cedar, fir and hemlock trees. A grassy meadow runs down to the beach, with pell-mell cabins built up on either side of a babbling creek. Down on the oceanfront, a large wooden wharf stands sentinel over the cabin-owners’ boats.
I was stunned: we had arrived at a boat-access-only paradise that was a mere 40 minutes door-to-door from East Vancouver.
The dock, like so many others I’ve frequented, served as a community-gathering place of sorts. I met a few other friendly owners, some of whom had been there for 20 years or more, one a dozen years, some just a couple.
Apparently, the Brighton Beach development began in the late 1940s with a group of Second World War veterans. (Of the 22 lots, there remains just one family tie to the original veterans.)
Since then, properties have changed hands many times, and many folks have taken long runs living at Brighton Beach full time.
One large, beautiful two-bedroom home with a drop-dead ocean and mountain view is currently listed at $650,000, meaning it’s just about the cheapest detached waterfront home this side of… Halifax? You just need a boat. And a pretty good line of credit: no mortgages are allowed at Brighton Beach. It’s a corporation that sells shares in the property.
When I asked one resident about the challenges of winter weather, he cracked a beer, took a long swig, belched, and replied, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” Right, then!
We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at Brighton Beach, hiking through the picturesque rainforest valley, swimming in the unbelievably warm salt water and knocking back a few cold ones with the locals under the umbrellas on the communal dock.
By 6 p.m., we were back in Cher and Romain’s boat heading for home. Just before we shoved off, I complimented the locals on their oh-so-close-yet-oh-so-secret waterfront paradise (which, it should be noted, is entirely private property, right down to the dock).
As we motored away, one of them yelled back, “We love it, but just don’t tell anyone about it, eh?”