Advertisement

A woman who lives on a remote Canadian island with 15 other people says grocery shopping takes 8 hours, and twice a year she's stuck in isolation due to the weather

A woman smiling whole sitting on a snowmobile and holding a fishing rod.
Dominique Nobes frequently travels by snowmobile when Lake Temagami is frozen.Dominique Nobes.
  • Dominique Nobes lives on Island 203 in Lake Temagami, Canada, with 15 other permanent residents.

  • Weather conditions are difficult, and twice a year she's stuck at home for two weeks because of ice.

  • Grocery shopping takes eight hours and mail is tricky. Despite the challenges, she loves the island.

Even going grocery shopping is an adventure on Island 203 in Lake Temagami, Canada, which is so remote it doesn't have a street address, Dominique Nobes told Insider.

On the left, Dominique. On the right, a snowy landscape.
Dominique Nobes shares the island with 15 other permanent residents.Dominique Nobes.

Dominique, 32, and her husband, Rielly Nobes, share the island with 15 other people, but in summer — the busiest time of year — there are 60 other residents, she said.

The mainland was home to around 800 people and was a 13.6-mile drive away, she added. Before Island 203, Dominique used to live in Manitouwadge, a small Canadian town in Ontario.

Dominique, who shares videos about island life on TikTok, where she has more than 100,000 followers, said she made the move alongside her husband and his parents on April 4, 2018.

She said they had a neighbor who lived pretty close in the summertime but still felt private because they couldn't see the neighbor's home behind the trees.

She added that they moved to Island 203 because they wanted to be self-employed and now have a small business renting out cottages on the island.

After an eight-hour-long day of grocery shopping 62 miles from home, Dominique and Rielly drag their groceries — and dog — in a canoe across thin ice, Dominique told Insider.

A man dragging a canoe with groceries and a dog across a frozen body of ice.
Sometimes Dominique and Rielly Nobes have to drag their groceries home.Dominique Nobes.

Just before winter and spring, the ice on their remote island was too thin to ride a snowmobile across but too thick to boat through, she said. Dominique said her husband typically dragged the canoe and tapped the ice three times before he walked across as a precaution.

Dominique takes the groceries home in the winter by snowmobile, and when the lake isn't frozen in the summer, she uses a boat, she said.

When the couple first moved in, they realized they forgot to bring sugar with them, she said. They drove into a nearby town the next day and faced their first culture shock — there were no grocery stores.

A map showing where Lake Temagami is.
Lake Temagami is in northeastern Ontario, roughly 310 miles from Toronto.Sama Ansari Pour.

Something else to get their head around was being stranded on the island for up two weeks at a time, which Dominique has called "ice-lation," she said.

Twice a year, in winter and spring, they're trapped in their 500-square-foot home for roughly two weeks while the ice is freezing or melting, she said.

She added that rotten spring ice — ice that doesn't have any structural support and shatters — is generally what causes accidents to happen. They avoid traveling around this time.

Their first "ice-lation" happened within a month of moving to the island. But looking back, she said, they were overprepared as they had bought lots of groceries, from fresh food to items that last.

It took a while to get their grocery shop just right — an art Dominique has perfected over two years. "We were almost preparing for an apocalypse more than we were preparing for real life," she said.

On the left, a woman. On the right, a man shopping.
Grocery shopping typically takes the couple eight hours.Dominique Nobes.

They would buy things for their pantry just because they lasted for a long time, like dry beans, but would never use them, Dominique said.

"We've realized since then that we don't always need to be prepared for six weeks of isolation," she told Insider.

Their grocery shop, which they do fortnightly, takes a little longer than most people's, but Dominique always has a plan for their eight-hour-long trip to the store, she said.

Before she goes, she looks at a map of the layout of the store, Dominique said. Then she plans their meals for the next two weeks.

On the left, Dominique is driving. On the right, the egg section of a supermarket.
It's a 62-mile drive to the grocery store.Dominique Nobes, Brandon Bell/Getty Images.

They pack their grocery bags and two big coolers with them. They have to take this to the truck by snowmobile in the winter, Dominique said.

Since it's such a long day of shopping for groceries, they try to pack in as much as possible, such as a dentist appointment, to save money as gas is "painfully expensive," she said.

They spend around $200 a week on groceries and gas as they're not always able to get things on sale, she added.

It's not just the remoteness that can make things more difficult — Dominique is always at the mercy of mother nature. Sometimes she has to ride her snowmobile in the middle of a blizzard, she said.

On the left, Dominique wearing a frozen face covering. On the right, Dominique fishing
Dominique wraps up warm.Dominique Nobes.

"It can be scary, for sure. Sometimes you see a puddle, and you're thinking, 'Is that a puddle or is that a hole in the ice?'" she said.

In the winter, it takes her around six minutes to get dressed in her seemingly never-ending layers, she added.

She said she starts by putting on a pair of wool socks and then long underwear. Then she adds a base layer on top, like a long-sleeve top. After that, she puts on her actual pants and a wool sweater. Wool is still warm if it's wet, which she appreciates, she said.

After this, she starts to put on outerwear, she said. She puts on her boot liners and boots, and adds snow pants on top of that. She said she adds another layer and her coat if it's really cold.

She also wears a scarf or neck warmer and two pairs of gloves, and complements it with a helmet — safety first, she said.

Everyday things like mail can be tricky, as they don't have a PO box, rural route number, or street address, she told Insider.

On the left, a snowy landscape. On the right, Dominique on a snowmobile.
Receiving mail can sometimes be tricky because of the remoteness of Island 203.Dominique Nobes.

Instead, Dominique and Rielly use their fire number — a number representing their home in case of a fire — and then use Lake Temagami as their street address, she said.

"A lot of the time, companies are like, 'You didn't give me a real address.' And I'm like, 'I did. It's a real address, it's registered,'" she said.

If it's being delivered by Canada Post, it's not an issue – Dominique and Rielly just collect it from town. It gets complicated with other shipping companies, she said.

In 2018, for example, she ordered her wedding dress from Budapest, Hungary. When it arrived in Ontario, it suddenly got lost, she said, and it took weeks of contacting people back and forth to finally find it.

It turned out the wedding dress was in a town an hour and a half away. "It was a whole ordeal for them to even deliver it to us," she said.

Now, they have the phone numbers of the freight companies and get in touch ahead of time. Despite the difficulties, Dominique shops online 70% more on Island 203 than she did living in a town, she said.

Despite having 15 permanent neighbors, Dominique has a better sense of community living on the island than she ever did living in a town, she told Insider.

Dominique, her husband and dog.
Dominique and Nobes.Dominique Nobes.

"When you live somewhere like this, I think you automatically have a sense of having everybody's back," she said.

Dominique recently broke her leg and was immediately flooded with support from her community, she said. She runs a small landscaping business in the summer, which would be difficult to do with a broken leg.

"Everyone was like, 'We're going to come and help you. We don't expect to be paid,'" she said. "It still blows my mind that they did that for me."

When she broke her knee seven years ago while living in a town, her neighbors didn't check up on her and she never had a sense of community there, she said.

Even though life on Island 203 can be challenging at times, Dominique loves it. It's peaceful and private, she said.

On the left, the couple and dog walking. On the right, a fox.
Dominique loves the easy access to the outdoors.Dominique Nobes.

One time, Dominique was stuck with no water in the winter as everything was frozen solid, she said. Thankfully, they got water from a friend, which they would then boil.

But despite occasional plumbing issues, harsh weather, and long grocery trips, it's worth it, she said. The island has lots of animals, like black bears, squirrels, and hummingbirds. At night she also hears wolves and coyotes — but hasn't actually seen one yet.

The best thing about living there is the easy access to the outdoors, she told Insider. She can hike, fish, and always feels immersed in nature.

Read the original article on Insider