Beth Boyce and Catherine Gilbert
Research: Luc Demerais
Although the history of the Haig-Brown family has been widely covered, what is actually known about their home, that they named Above Tide?
The Haig-Brown Heritage House as we know it today was originally owned by Herbert Pidcock, who built the first version of house in the early 1920s. Pidcock had obtained the idyllic property, situated on the Campbell River, from one of the area’s early pioneers, Fred Nunns.
When the Haig-Browns moved to Campbell River in 1934, they lived on the property, renting Reg Pidcock’s house that was next door to Herbert’s. Herbert’s house came up for sale two years later, and the Haig-Browns, who had come to love the area, decided to purchase it. Renovations began immediately, with an upper level bedroom being added on for their eldest daughter, Valerie.
By 1940 the house was wired for electricity, and Roderick commented that the lights were “a very real pleasure – a much greater improvement than I had anticipated.” The young couple had ambitious plans and by 1946, decided to build a study, add a dormer, a new entrance and front hall and to expand the kitchen. Due to various setbacks including a lack of money, supplies and help and a major earthquake in June of that year, the major renovations were not completed until 1947.
After Ann Haig-Brown passed away in 1990, care of the house passed to the provincial Heritage Branch. By this time the house needed work and between 1994 and 2003, it was fully restored to reflect the period that Roderick and Ann occupied the house together – the years 1936-1976 – although some imperfections in the building were left intact as they contributed to the historic character of the home. Mary Haig-Brown writes of the house: “Seeing it so well preserved and yet so human is wonderful…Knowing how it functions within the town makes it alive and vibrant to us.”
In 2006, the Museum at Campbell River took over management of the house and grounds for the City of Campbell River. As an extension of museum programming, and keeping in the spirit of the Haig-Brown family philosophy, a Writer in Residence occupies the house in fall and winter. On World Rivers Day (Sept. 29), the property hosts the Haig-Brown Festival, a celebration of conservation and the river. In summer months the house is operated as a Bed and Breakfast, and interpretive tours of the house and property are available through the Museum.