Recently we collaborated with Coast Realty Courtenay on a special gingerbread house project. This is part of the annual Odlum Brown Christmas Village hosted by Crown Isle Resort. The houses are sold by silent auction to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Comox Valley. As I cast about for inspiration, I came across a much-loved local historical site: “Baybrook”, the Comox home of legendary naturalist and conservationist Mack Laing.
Laing and his wife, Ethel, built the house in 1922 at the mouth of Brooklyn Creek using a kit that was ordered from a catalogue. For the next 27 years, Mack Laing lived there, writing fourteen books and over a thousand journal articles. It was his dying wish that the house be turned into a natural history museum. Until last month, this vision and the very existence of the house itself were in jeopardy. Originally set for demolition, the house has been granted a reprieve due to the hard work of the Comox Valley Naturalists Society and Project Watershed. A team of biologists, planners, historians and engineers assessed Baybrook and found it to be structurally sound. Comox Town Council granted about a year to conduct market analysis of its tourism potential and to source funding for its restoration.
I went for a walk to see the house, found it an utterly charming spot, and decided then and there that it would be a great model for our gingerbread project. Have a look at these photos of the house in its full-scale and gingerbread incarnations. By the way, the latter is made of 100% edible materials.
Many thanks to Rob & Theresa Phillips, Tracy Hopkins, Andrena Koch-Schulte, Travis Stevenson and Coast Realty of Courtenay for sponsoring this tasty bit of history. I’ll leave you with a quote from Thoreau that is found on a plaque at the house site, words that inspired Mack Laing’s life and work:
“Simplify, don’t waste the years struggling for things that are unimportant. Don’t burden yourself with possessions. Keep your needs and wants simple, and enjoy what you have. Don’t fritter away your life on non-essentials. Don’t enslave yourself for luxuries. A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can do without. Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes. Live in the present, enjoy the present. Simplify your life. Be not simply good, be good for something.”