This is the story of a couple’s efforts to raise an old RV from the ruins and the rust, and their gratitude for the good folks who helped them along the way.
The short version of the saga began when Catherine Richard and Chris Laxton left Toronto and arrived on Vancouver Island two years ago to visit a friend.
“Catherine’s friend had recently purchased an old RV and suggested we fix up a couple of RVs together,” Laxton said.
In what’s best described as a case of what’s meant to be, they had spotted an old RV that might fit the bill on a couple of occasions while they were in Vancouver.
“We were driving around one day and it pulled up beside us at a stoplight,” Laxton recalled, still shaking his head at how the chance encounter unfolded.
“We asked the driver to pull over and traded our mini-van for his RV on the spot. I guess you could say it’s serendipity.”
The vehicle, a 1976 Ford Chateau, was in extremely rough shape. It had dry rot throughout and was leaking everywhere.
Catherine said it soon became apparent that tearing it down and rebuilding it practically from the ground up would be a monumental challenge.
“It was impossible to pay for the work we were doing and pay rent at the same time,” she explained.
Enter Mark Peterson, a longtime Langford resident the couple met at the ReStore near his home on Jacklin Road.
“We were driving around with no heater and two new sections held together with plywood at the time,” Laxton said.
The couple started talking with Peterson and described their situation.
“He offered us a hookup to power, water and WiFi,” Richard said. “We paid Mark a nominal amount (to cover his costs) and it turned into a huge friendship. Mark helped mentor us through some of the work.”
“I was in charge of Band-Aids,” said Peterson, who retired after 24 years as a millworker. “I’ve lived in Langford all my life, it’s all I know. I was glad to help a young couple out because that’s what we do in Langford.”
It took Richard and Laxton about 18 months to rebuild the vehicle in three sections, from floor to ceiling.
The project cost about $6,000 including tools, with the couple utilizing recycled material whenever possible.
“I think some people enjoyed seeing us drive around as the work progressed,” Laxton noted.
“Some people probably thought it was an eyesore in the early stages,” Richard added with a laugh. “We’re both artists, so it’s now our studio and home on wheels.”
Before they headed back to Ontario on the weekend, the couple stressed the importance of thanking Langford bylaw officials for their patience and understanding, especially during the ugly, early stages of the rebuild.
“The community’s been super supportive … that’s why we tried to support as many small businesses as we could,” Richard said. “Langford’s such an amazing community. Lots of people have asked us to stay in touch on our journey.”
You can check in with Richard and Laxton on Instagram@blackowl_living.
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