Saying Goodbye to the folks of Sanctuary Valley

Lynsey Kitching

Even if you don’t know Gary and Carol Likes, chances are you’ve seen their handywork. Their presence and hard work is seen throughout the town, not only in the beautiful hanging baskets bringing vibrant colours to town hall, the community centre, the RCMP office, outside of Subway, but in most gardens around town too.

Their flowers are sold at the Tru Value, however some decide to take the drive out to the farm themselves, if not only to say hello to the friendly couple, but to enjoy the ride.

You can find the farm, located only a few clicks down the paved highway outside of town, turning right up the gravel hill towards the Bergeron falls hiking trial and then taking a right at the fork in the road down into the valley known as Sanctuary Valley. A little piece of heaven, this valley contains the farm, the greenhouse and of course the friendly dogs that upon driving up, come and greets you with smiles and waging tails.

From the house you see the cliffs of Bergeron high off in the distance, hear the brook that babbles to the left in the forest and smell the clean fresh air.

I remember on my first visit, Carol telling me that anyone who is willing to drive down that crazy road to come and check out the farm for themselves deserves a 10 percent discount.

Though I struggled to accept, sometimes the best answer is just to say well, thank you.

And I’m sure that is what everyone here in town would like to say to Carol and Gary Likes: thank you. Thank you for your commitment to growing beautiful flowers for this town. Thank you for getting the vegetable (especially tomato) plants growing, thank you for taking care of our dogs when we go away on holidays, thank you for creating and maintaining the only greenhouse and kennel in the district.

So where are the Likes’s going?

As I caught up with them briefly just before they were ready to pull out of town, Carol explained, “We’re headed to a new farm where we’ll be the caretakers. It will be a little more relaxing.”

The Likes’ are headed back down south to the US as they do at the end of every summer however this time their return date is up in the air. For the last almost 10 years, the couple has spent half the year down in Oregon and half the year up here in Tumbler Ridge. Gary explained sadly, “I wish we could have just stayed up here, but they won’t give us permanent residency because they said we were too old, we might be a burden to the medical system. We’ve been up here ten years.”

Carol added, “It’s great; it’s wonderful we just love it up here,” she pauses and continues, “Oh, well. I think the US does the same thing to Canadians. So it’s sad, but it’s just the way the world works. We just do what we can.”

Sanctuary Valley will hopefully continue in its tradition fashion, especially when it comes to the kennel.

There is a bid on the property, though nothing is finalized yet. The family who is hoping to take over the farm has helped out the Likes’ before and love dogs.

Carol said, “She [the daughter] has taken care of the dogs when we’ve had to go south and she loves the animals.”

Though they have to sell their farm, this won’t be the last of the Likes’ as they have promised to come back and visit.

As they are about to leave, Carol says, “Oh yes! We have too many good friends up here. We couldn’t just stay away. We promised people. I don’t know for sure when. This has been home.”

Gary added they will be visiting, “more than once I’m sure.”