Arnaud Wilmotte and Lucie Valerie at home in Telkwa. (Tom Roper photo)

Arnaud Wilmotte and Lucie Valerie at home in Telkwa. (Tom Roper photo)

Wilderness man and Yukon lady end up on Main St. in Telkwa

Tom recounts the story of Lucie and Arnaud

I first met a very interesting couple when they rented our cabin we had built along the Telkwa River. The cabin had its own special view of Hudson Bay Mountain and was semi-private from the main ranch house. We had some animal traffic — moose, deer, and bear — to retain a bit of a wild flavour just five kilometres from downtown Telkwa.

Arnaud Wilmotte and Lucie Valerie were in the midst of moving down from Dawson City Yukon. I love that place and have been there four or five times. Why would they leave that town and why would they choose Telkwa to hang their hats is always a question I have in my little brain.

Arnaud was born in Belgium and always felt he was born in the wrong place. He was attracted to the wilderness and the empty places of the world. He has travelled it all from South America to Africa and many stops in between. Arnaud spent five years in the Norwegian Arctic. He ran sled dogs, he lived alone and really loved his lifestyle. Eventually, he made his way to the Yukon, he was going to paddle the Yukon River by himself and that’s what he did.

Oddly enough, Lucie was born of similar circumstances. “I never felt I was in the right place, even as a young girl,” she said. “I wanted to leave Germany. As soon as I was old enough to leave home I did just that and never looked back.”

How could these two people from parallel universes meet?

Well, it seems Arnaud had just arrived in Dawson City off his Yukon River float. Lucie had lived in town for several years. She had a property on the west side of the river. She had a gold claim, but she was not a Cheechako. She had spent 10 winters in the Yukon.

Arnaud stepped into the trading post looking for a place to store his canoe and fell head over heels. Now, the story could end there but we still have to get to Telkwa.

Lucie had a beautiful place and the two of them worked hard together to make it even more beautiful. They lived off-grid. They looked after sled dogs and built a cabin together. Probably the only drawback was the dependency on the ferry to get over to town for supplies. Winter was OK after freeze up, but spring thaw could be four weeks or better before the ferry could operate.

All issues were solvable, of course, until the little ones came along.

Now it’s not just the two of us, they said, it’s the three and even the four of us. After an emergency and having to rent a helicopter to get the babe to a hospital, it was time to reconsider their location. Where can we move to that can supply our needs, a connection to the north, close proximity to wilderness and small town facilities for the kids to thrive?

“So, this is where the Telkwa River Ranch fits into the picture,” Lucie said. “We drove the entire province looking at communities and locations where we could find happiness and the cabin on the ranch gave us just that feeling. We then found an amazing house to purchase on River Street in Telkwa with amazing neighbours. We are close to all the amenities and close to the wilderness. The kids have found friends, Arnaud has found work and a new chapter of our lives has begun. We are not the type of people to look back with regret. It was a wonderful time and emotional to sell the Yukon, but as life changes we adapt and look forward to new adventures.”

Thanks you two — I mean four — and the best for the future.

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