'Finally it's our time to be together': Married couple talks about retiring to life in the bush in the N.W.T.

·2 min read
Richard and Barb Mercredi tend to their traplines while living in their cabin for six to seven months out of the year. (Submitted by Richard & Barb Mercredi - image credit)
Richard and Barb Mercredi tend to their traplines while living in their cabin for six to seven months out of the year. (Submitted by Richard & Barb Mercredi - image credit)

Barb Mercredi isn't ready for spring yet.

She and her husband, Richard, are elders in Fort Smith, N.W.T. and spend their winters living off the land in a 900 square foot cabin. It's about 60 kilometres away from the town, and there, they lead a vastly different lifestyle than when they're in town during the summer.

"I usually get up a little bit before Richard and put on the coffee," she said, while explaining what a typical day in the bush is like.

"I make breakfast, and then I have to wash the dishes … I go down to the lake and get the clean water. I do the dishes and then I get ready and then we go."

Together, the couple checks their traplines.

"We have a 60-kilometre circuit that we do every couple of days," said Richard Mercredi.

"Barb helps me while I'm setting traps. She brings me steaks and lynx bait and different things," he explained. The couple was back in town for supplies recently, and shared their story with Loren McGinnis, host of CBC's The Trailbreaker.

They also cut wood when they're out.

"We work together. We put the wood in the sleigh and make whatever trips … back to the cabin. I usually split the wood and Barb stacks and piles it," he said.

The Mercredis will have been married for 52 years as of October. They've been retired for 13, and said they don't take the trapping too seriously.

"Every once in a while we'll take a little time off and do a little bit of ice fishing or stuff like that and or maybe go for a snowmobile ride," said Richard Mercredi.

They have no phones, but will occasionally watch a DVD on a TV that's in the cabin. Together, they trap. Together, they cook. Together, they read books.

"Finally, it's our time to be together I guess, and do the things we wanted to do," he said.

They had considered buying a camper and a truck when they retired, but figured they'd get more use out of a cabin in the bush.

"We've been going for roughly 13 years, together all the time, and I just love it out there," Barb Mercredi said. "We're on a point, so you're looking out over the whole lake and then the rocks, the trees, you know ... it's just totally amazing."