Where does “Chica in the Creek” come from? My friend George Smith called me that when a group of us travelled together in Cuba years ago to celebrate our friend Evi’s 50th birthday. (“Chica” is an informal Spanish way to address a friend like saying: “Hi buddy.” “The Creek” refers to Roberts Creek, where I live.) I liked the rhythm of the term, so I use it here where I post fun stuff on events and thoughts related to life in the Creek.
Welcome to “Gumboot Nation”
I love where I live, in Roberts Creek, BC, on the west coast of Canada. We’re an unincorporated town of about 3,000 on the mainland northwest of Vancouver, yet most people think that we live on an island. You can only get here by plane or boat — there is no road access to or from the city. We’re part of what’s called the Sunshine Coast, roughly 75 miles of towns, coves, and communities. We’re a great mix of folks from retirees and summer cottagers to artists, teachers, and people who love the outdoors, from kayakers to back-country skiers.
Sometimes living here feels like a magic bubble of friendly warmth and natural beauty. Many residents fear overpopulation and pollution and don’t want others to know how great it is here. Yet it’s not all idyllic: we’ve had logging in our watershed and of old-growth forest plus air-quality concerns from so much wood-stove smoke and from backyard burnings.
Thankfully, in Roberts Creek, development is limited. But elsewhere on the Sunshine Coast, especially northwards in the Sechelt and Pender Harbour regions, more and more new developments, including time-shares, are catering to wealthy outsiders. Some follks, who have lived here since the 1970s, think that the area has already changed too much.
I’ve been “in the Creek” for almost a decade and still cherish the community. It retains values planted here from the sixties and early seventies, including a strong conservation drive, seed-sharing, sustainable living, and maintaining a small ecological footprint. Roberts Creek is home to Canada’s first rural co-housing community. Informally, Roberts Creek is dubbed “Gumboot Nation” and gumboots remain a popular sentimental symbol for we “Creekers.”
Each year, our annual Higgledy Piggledy Parade features someone striding at the front in gumboots, holding high the Roberts Creek flag that bears a gumboot image. We have the Gumboot Cafe and Restaurant, gumboot earrings . . .you get the drift. This makes me think of the symbolic union “The Conch Republic” that people in Key West, Florida created to define themselves. Or the term ”Cascadia” used to represent the Pacific Northwest region in Canada and the U.S. I like it when residents in a single region create their own group meanings and associations for where they live beyond political and geographical boundaries. People, of course, can take this to the extreme, resulting in elitist isolationism, border spats, and ultimately, war.