Mark Coelho and Raphaelle Gagnon are nomadic Canadians working seasonally in the remote northern wilderness of British Columbia Canada, fully embracing the off grid tiny lifestyle that many Canadians seek.
Raphaelle has planted trees in remote parts of BC and Alberta for 9 summers, totaling over 2.3 million trees! Mark is a bush mechanic. During the off seasons Raphaelle travels the world learning languages, climbing mountains and setting foot on many different continents.
Mark and Raphaelle have a 118 sq ft, 1999 Ford E350 van they call home.
“We’ve been living out of the van off and on for the past 4 years, taking it on many adventures from Montreal to the North West Territories to Vancouver Island.”
Two summers ago, they gutted it, insulated it and turned it into their full-time living space. It has a kitchen with a propane fridge, a sleeping area, a wood stove, and a few things you wouldn’t expect.
A quarter of the van is dedicated to Mark’s mechanic workshop, making it convenient to create visions, fix things and build their ideas. He has an extensive tool chest including thousands of tools, mechanic diagnostic equipment, mig welder, oxygen & acetylene torches, 27 gallon compressor… and the list goes on! By trade Mark is a certified mechanic, fabricator and work space designer but is the ultimate handyman.
The two have fun plans for the near future. They are retiring from the tree planting world to embark on a fun tiny house business adventure, including pop up shops, farmers markets and events taking them across the country as van life vendors!
Their new tiny life business and the world’s first off-grid mobile apothecary, Boreal Folk, has Mark and Raphaelle sustainably harvesting botanicals from the Canadian Boreal forest to infuse them into natural skincare products they make in a workshop which is also in their van.
“Living in the van facilitates life in wild places, where we do our best work.”
They spend their days walking in the wilderness, selecting local plants for their cosmetic or medicinal properties and infuse them into their growing line of skincare products. We can’t even imagine how wonderful it must be to ba able to pull over and forage from the wilderness, and create these beautiful products that are all natural! What a life…
The two plan on living in the van for as long as it makes sense to do so. If you’re interested in following Mark and Raphaelle on their adventures, you can do so through their Facebook page.