Squirrel Cove General Store: Cortes Island’s One Stop Shopping Experience

By Roy L Hales

In an era of increasing specialization, some remote locations are developing in the opposite direction. In addition to the services you might expect, Squirrel Cove’s General store is also a gas station, post office, liquor store, gift shop, hardware outlet, building supply store, shellfish interpretive centre and it hosts one of the island’s finest take-out food providers. It has become  Cortes Island’s one stop shopping experience.

Cortes Island’s One Stop Shopping Experience

Some of the things you expect in a General Store – Roy L Hales photo

“We’ve made a lot of changes in the store. I have visions for what I would like it to be. I get the same sort of satisfaction from that and dealing with people. I couldn’t be in the back office shuffling paper, it doesn’t give me the buzz that I need,” says Curt.

He currently works 12 to 14 hours a day. These are similar hours to those Curt put in while travelling around the country building sports floors in gymnasiums, but he used to take time off between contracts. Now he works seven days a week.

Yet Curt describes the challenges as insignificant compared to the welcome he has received from the community.

“I’m totally happy that we’ve done this. Next to finding Terri, my wife, this is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

The View Is Unbelievable

Looking back from the Shellfish Interpretive centre to Squirrel Cove General Store – Roy L Hales photo

“The view here is unbelievable and my bedroom looks out on it … Every morning I have a deep appreciation of where I am and it changes by the hour … I’d love to change my cash register around, so I am looking out the window …. This is where my photography background comes in. I appreciate  the change of the light. The first thing in the morning it hits the [Klahoose] village. It’s this beautiful colour, beautiful light. You watch it go across the bay all day long and it ends up with the orange and the pinks hitting the mountains on the other side.”

Someone brought in a photograph of what the building looked like during the 1920s. Curt would like to restore the deck that once went around the front and open the store up so that people can take their coffee outside, enjoy the scenery and visit.

“In the summer I would love to have a stage set up and have music and people could just come and jam.”

Could Not Work In More Populated Areas

Some of the building supplies Curt talks about in the podcast – Roy L Hales photo

Curt admits you probably won’t find a store like his in more populated regions like Victoria or the Lower Mainland, but as long as they are responding to local needs there will always be room in places like Cortes Island.

I interviewed him  last March. People familiar with the store may notice that some of the things he describes as plans, in the podcast above, have already been done. One of his plans has also changed.

The podcast above is half of the program broadcast on Cortes Community Radio, CKTZ 89.5 FM, on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. You can access the other half here.

Top Photo Credit: The Government Wharf, as seen from Squirrel Cove General Store – Roy L Hales photo

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