Lorne Matheson, whose family grew up on the island, said visitors are often enquiring about whether there are places to camp on Pictou Island. He’s hoping this venture provides another place for people to stay while visiting the small slice of paradise.
“It’s quite unique. There’s not too many places like it really anywhere in the world I suppose, certainly not around here. It gives people a chance to get over there and experience the island and see what’s going on. Hopefully they like it and come back.”
While Pictou Island reportedly had as many as 228 residents in the early 1930s, the population today is a handful of families, increasing in the summer. Matheson said they’ve lost some business over the years, naming canneries and several lobster licences as examples. Matheson and business partner Wendy Foley are hoping this helps the island economy pick up.
“The jobs went elsewhere and we’re trying to bring something back, give people the opportunity to see the island,” Matheson said, noting that Foley opened a store there last summer.
While they’re the only ones employed there at the moment, they hope to see the business grow and add more people in a few years. Matheson said they’d really like to see more businesses start up, whether it’s another bed and breakfast or a restaurant.
The campground, which is a short walk from the wharf, will have six wooden tents – each eight feet long and eight feet wide – with canvas at the ends.
Each campsite comes with all the amenities – from mattresses to dishes and cooking supplies, right down to a French press coffee maker.
Campers have access to a common cooking pavilion with two barbecues, cooking utensils, and a sink. There will also be an enclosed fire pit, a solar shower, and three outhouses.
Matheson and Foley said traditional camping has never really been possible on the island as it’s only accessible by ferry and plane, making it difficult to transport campers and all of their gear.
Foley said they’ve simplified the process.
“Everything’s there. They just have to come.”
They’re planning to be open June 2 with lots of building still to take place. One tent has is nearly finished with local hemlock from River John and canvases being sewed locally.
Even without all the tents on the ground yet, they’re already picking up speed, having booked two full weekends already.
The tents are available for $50 per tent per night and can now be booked for dates between June 2 and Oct. 2. For more information visit www.pictouislandwoodentents.com.