High and dry: N.B. couple moving on up with RV-treehouse

·2 min read
Tina Arthurs and dog Buddy Love sit in the newly perched RV-treehouse that she and her husband, Paul, built to avoid spring floodwater from the St. John River. (Shane Fowler/CBC News - image credit)
Tina Arthurs and dog Buddy Love sit in the newly perched RV-treehouse that she and her husband, Paul, built to avoid spring floodwater from the St. John River. (Shane Fowler/CBC News - image credit)

The threat of flooding is an annual worry for those living along the St. John River.

But when Paul and Tina Arthurs bought a getaway property in Sheffield, across Rte 105 from the river, in a flood-prone area, they decided they would rise above that worry.

They've stuck their travel trailer on stilts — a dozen telephone poles to be precise.

"I just figured I'd put it up in the air and have something that I don't have to move and I can have the power up there, my well up there, everything is up there and it's not going to get wet," said Paul. "I think it's even higher than my house."

The couple live down the road in Maugerville and have fallen victim to floodwaters before. After raising their home, their next priority was their vacation property about 30 kilometres southeast of Fredericton.

Shane Fowler/CBC News
Shane Fowler/CBC News

The camper is now permanently in the trees, with its wheels hanging about about 2½ metres in the air.

The Arthurs used a crane to place the camper on a cradle of telephone poles, high enough so floodwaters should not be a concern every spring.

"I have trailers and snowmobiles, and you spend hours or days just moving things around during floods," Paul said. "And sometimes you have to do all that and it doesn't even flood."

Inspired by the homes and cottages on stilts in flood plains in his home state of New Jersey, he said the setup may turn heads here in New Brunswick, but it's a common sight south of the borderr.

The Arthurs said the RV-treehouse option was cheaper and easier than building a cottage on stilts, especially considering the current price of lumber in Canada.

"My RV is a winterized package, so it's just the same as a cottage right now," said Tina. "It's all equipped with everything in it. It's even got a fireplace in it.

"The whole idea is being able to use it in the wintertime. We can come here with our snowmobiles, park our snowmobiles underneath here, go up, turn the heat on up there because we will have power, septic, water, the same as you would have in a cottage."

Shane Fowler/CBC News
Shane Fowler/CBC News

The couple currently use a ladder to get into their RV, but are building a series of decks and stairs for easier access. They said they have turned a lot of heads since lifting the camper a few weeks ago.

"It's uncanny the amount of attention that we've got from this," said Tina. She said a lot of locals have taken pictures and asked questions, curious about getting above the floodwaters themselves.

"I think this might actually start a little bit of a trend."

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