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home of the week
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630 Tinker Rd., Mayne Island, B.C

Asking price: $4,495,000

Taxes: $8,998.20 (2022)

Land size: 52.7 acres

Agents: Jason Choi and Trent Rodney, Royal LePage Sussex

The backstory

Louis and Linda Racine call their first visit to Mayne Island a “pinch me” moment.

There, on a mountaintop 500 feet above sea level in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, the two found a hideaway with 52 acres of forested land and a house designed by Blue Sky Architecture.

The couple had travelled extensively after retirement and along the way they talked about settling down in Italy, Portugal or New Zealand. In 2017, they were living in Vancouver and thinking about their next adventure. Before they made the move overseas, they decided to explore the Gulf Islands off Vancouver Island.

Mr. Racine is a Quebec-born entrepreneur who launched a business in the stage-lighting industry. After a career supplying light shows for rock concerts and live events, he was ready to experience some downtime in a tranquil setting.

Ms. Racine, a native of Montreal, also craved a quiet sanctuary.

“We did not know that you could get such a place so close to Vancouver,” Mr. Racine says of the Mayne Island retreat.

A road at the base of the mountain rises up through ancient forests to the summit. Mr. Racine was smitten by the view, while Ms. Racine loved the fragrance of the forest and the unspoiled landscape.

“It was a feeling that was almost spiritual. You’re surrounded by nature,” she says. “You see the ocean and nothing else is there. It’s so calm and soothing.”

The couple purchased the property and considered renovating the 1993 house – or even tearing it down - but once they moved in, quickly realized that the building’s perch could not be improved upon.

The panoramic views from inside the house take in the Gulf Islands and the water to the south, while the natural landscape surrounds the house to the north, explains Mr. Racine.

“It was really positioned incredibly well between two ridges,” Mr. Racine says. “It’s amazing how it’s oriented to the light and nature.”

The couple began a conversation with architect Clinton Cuddington of Vancouver-based Measured Architecture and quickly felt a connection.

In 2019, they decided to preserve the existing architecture while paring down the details to suit their more minimalist aesthetic.

“It was our chance to create something significant,” Mr. Racine says.

The house today

  • 630 Tinker Rd., Mayne Island, B.C.DAN KIRCHNER/Handout

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Blue Sky had designed a house in modern West Coast style, with curved walls, a warm wood interior and a swooping roof to match the mountain’s slope.

The Racines favoured a more open plan and a very spare interior that would keep the focus on both the distant and close-up views outside.

They described their lifestyle to Mr. Cuddington and waited for the architect to return with a pile of sketches.

“We let Clinton have some fun,” Mr. Racine says.

The Blue Sky architects had been careful to conserve the fir trees that have been standing 500 years or longer. The Racines were adamant that no trees should be cut down to make way for any changes.

“We live with the trees very close by,” he says. “This is something that was sacred. Everyone agreed to that from day one.”

The exterior of the house was modified slightly to create more angular shapes and the red cedar vertical siding is stained black.

“It’s very sculptural,” Mr. Racine says.

Inside the main wing of the 2,829-square-foot house, walls were taken down to make the living area, kitchen and dining area a more open space.

A corner of the living room that juts out towards the edge of the precipice was opened up to create an outdoor deck.

“Now it’s one of our favourite places to have a matcha tea after our morning walk,” Mr. Racine says.

The positions of the kitchen and dining room were reversed so that the kitchen could accommodate a large island.

A hallway leads to the more private bedroom wing of the house. The primary bedroom has views of the water and a dramatic ceiling that follows the curvilinear roofline.

After dark, that portion of the building seems surrounded by the night sky, creating the feeling of hovering in a spaceship, Mr. Racine says.

“It’s a very good place to see the stars.”

The ensuite bathroom was reconfigured to add a rain shower and a standalone bathtub next to the window.

The view often includes ravens, eagles and vultures soaring on the wind currents outside.

“Very often, when we’re in the bathtub, you can have six or seven of those majestic birds putting on an air show,” Mr. Racine says.

An upper level provides two additional bedrooms, an ensuite bathroom and a deck.

Throughout the house, concrete floors and white walls create a calm backdrop, say the couple. Built-in cabinets keep rooms free of clutter.

“We’ve always been passionate about design and minimalism,” Mr. Racine says.

There’s also a separate guest cottage with 661 square feet of living space.

The Racines, who walk six to 10 kilometres a day, sometimes head down the mountain towards the town, but they often meander through the forests on the property. They don’t have to worry about cougars, bears or wolves on the small island.

“We follow the deer trails,” Mr. Racine says. “We just follow their lead – they made the trail for us.”

The home’s position provides complete privacy, yet the trip to stores, restaurants and the amenities of town takes less than 10 minutes by car, says Mr. Racine.

A float plane takes passengers to Vancouver in about 20 minutes, with scheduled service twice a day, he adds. For a more leisurely ride, a ferry transports people and cars.

The best feature

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The home’s position provides complete privacy, yet the trip to stores, restaurants and the amenities of town takes less than 10 minutes by car.DAN KIRCHNER/Handout

The Racines never tire of the view.

“It can be very dramatic sometimes,” Ms. Racine says of the shifting sun and clouds. “Sometimes you’re above the fog.”

Mr. Racine says the sun’s rays in the morning and evening add texture to the rocks and trees.

“I’m very sensitive to the quality of light,” he says, recalling his decades of creating ambience with artificial light.

With no other buildings around, the moon glows in the darkness, Mr. Racine says.

“When you’re in the city, you can miss the fact that the moon is out. Here, you can’t. The moon is part of your life.”

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