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Masset's abandoned airbase brings new residents to Canada's Galapagos

Give Grant Paulson a stretch of ocean to land on any day, even when the winds are blowing across the runway at some of Northern BC's more challenging airports. "It's a whole lot easier to bring your plane down on the ocean, providing the waves aren't too high," says Paulson, who flies a pontoon equipped Helio-Courier H295. Paulson is looking forward to scouting out the landing opportunities around Masset on the northern tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands after taking advantage of a unique real estate opportunity at the former military base

terrace-prince rupert mapPaulson is among 50 people who jumped at the chance last year to buy a well-maintained house on its own lot at Canadian Forces Station Masset. It was one of 190 homes that the military maintained for married personnel at the national Department of Defense "listening post." With the end of the Cold War and computerization, the Canadian and US. Military have scaled back operations and now have about 230 personnel on the site. For under $40,000, Paulson purchased a three-bedroom home complete with its own lot on the former base. Thanks to the Hello- Courier, he will make short work of what would normally be a long trek from his hometown of Prince George with his young family in tow. "If I go by car, it's a good eight or nine-hour drive to the Yellowhead Highway to Prince Rupert from here, an overnight stay and then a six hour ferry ride the next day," says Paulsen. But flying in would take about three hours, which means we could go in for the weekend." While flying over the Coast Range can be a challenge for a novice,

Grant has been flying in Northern BC. since 1976, ten of those years as a helicopter pilot for companies such as Northern Mountain and Trans-Mountain. He liked the mining business so much, he set up his own company, Falcon Drilling Ltd."Flying into mine sites such as the SNIP mine at Eskay Creek left Grant with a healthy respect for how changeable BC. weather conditions can be. "Despite all the work in there, were no major air accidents," he said. In fact there were more people hurt on the ground at the mine site. Grant's plane is a STOL-style craft, giving him the high degree of flexibility one needs for BC. flying. The six-seater aircraft, popular among missionaries in Latin America, can carry a payload of about 1,400 pounds. "It's a bit bigger than a Cessna 185 and has half again as much power." It has also given him access to places that most of us earthbound types can only dream about. I use it for fishing and hunting. "One of my favorite places is the Limestone Lakes area east of Prince George." One of the best times in my life was when we flew into the Limestone Lake area, east of Prince George.

The lake is located at the 4,500 ft. level. It was in July and there was still ice on the lakes, but enough of an opening to set down. We took garbage bags with us and went tobogganing in the snow. We had a ball." The Queen Charlottes offer Grant and his family lots of recreational possibilities, with some of the best salmon fishing in the world topping the list. There are also hundreds of km available for beach combing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing and hiking. Grant plans to scout out the lakes on the archipelago as alternatives to ocean landings. He also expects to be able to moor his plane at the marina near his new vacation home.
Canada's Galapagos: From ..
Prince Rupert your voyage to the "Misty Islands" is a salty experience. These fog-..shrouded waters of the Haida Gwa'ii or Queen Charlotte Archipelago teem with finny fare; salmon, herring, halibut, rockfish, mussels, crab, starfish, sea urchin, octopus.

Armadas of Gray, Humpback and Killer Whales skip along the surface. Seabirds abound, and near Cape St. James, sea lions romp and play. Isolation from the mainland has given rise to a unique subspecies of wildlife. Gwa'ii Haanas National Park Preserve is also called South Moresby. Since the park has no roads or facilities, visitors must be self sufficient. Anthony Island's abandoned village, Ninstints, is a UN World Heritage site. There are over 500 archeological and historical Haida sites.
Contact: Al or Sandra Galbraith, A.J. Galbraith & Assoc.,
Masset:, BC, (250) 626-3880 or 888-300-5557 (toll-free) Masset
website: www.island.net-masset E-mail: masset@island.net

Update: Similar low cost housing is available at Tumbler Ridge, BC. 3 bedoom homes for under $30,000. Contact: A.J. Galbraith & Assoc. 888-300-5557 (toll-free)