Teen, 19, lives on remote island with no electricity and travels 3 hours to go shopping

Ella Genve Shaw, 19, lives on a remote island on the west coast of Canada and says she grew up in a small community of about 15 families with no shops, no internet, and no electricity

Ella has to drive three hours if she wants to go shopping in the next town (

Image: @ellagenve / CATERS NEWS)

A teenager living on a remote island with no electricity has to travel three hours to meet friends and go shopping.

Ella Genve Shaw, 19, lives on a remote island on the west coast of Canada.

Campbell River is the nearest town and a three hour boat ride away.

Ella grew up on the island with her parents and younger sister Arwen, five, and spent her teenage years looking for food, building furniture, and having limited contact with the outside world.

Only a maximum of 15 families live on the island.

The island, which Ella does not want to name, has no electricity, WiFi, shops or telephone reception, so she has to drive to the neighboring town to meet up with friends and buy groceries.

Ella grew up on a remote island on the west coast of Canada


@ellagenve / CATERS-NEWS)

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The family uses a boat to travel between the islands while their mother – Heather, 51 – works on a neighboring island.

Ella, who recently graduated from high school, said, “My mother grew up on the island so it has always been her home. It’s a really close-knit community.

“We have our own boat that we use to travel between the islands and to the nearest town, we would have to take our boat to a nearby island and then take a ferry across.

“It can take up to three hours to get there, and in bad weather we have nowhere to go.

Ella was raised on a remote island by her mother Heather


@ellagenve / CATERS-NEWS)

“In winter we can be stuck on the island for two months, so we need to make sure we have enough supplies.

“All of the food we eat is grown on the island and we have chickens, ducks and other animals raised for food.

“There is a small school on the island with a teacher who teaches all children regardless of their age.

“There were 11 other kids in school when I was there and it would take a 45-minute drive from one end of the island to the other.

Ella says there are about 10 to 15 other families on the island


@ellagenve / CATERS-NEWS)

“When I was younger I finished school and immediately started clearing land and making piles of fire out of trees – it was like a full-time job.”

Ella was nervous about visiting a city as she spent her childhood on the island with limited contact with the outside world.

She charged her cell phone with a car and used candles and flashlights to find her way around at night.

She added, “My parents separated when I was younger and my father moved to Seattle so I could spend some time in a city during the summer months.

Ella says she needs to charge her cell phone with the car battery


@ellagenve / CATERS-NEWS)

“Now I’m traveling, I’m going back to visit, but it’s nice to see more of the world.

“Growing up there makes you very isolated and you don’t have a lot of social interaction, so in my teenage years it was really difficult to be with people and it’s still hard.

“I never learned how to deal with all the stimulation. We have a bar of phone reception in the house – I can’t text or make calls, so it’s very isolating that way.

Ella admits she’s nervous about going to a big city because she grew up very isolated


@ellagenve / CATERS-NEWS)

“The meeting of new people came from leaving the island.

“Much of the island is uninhabited, so we only have one road that crosses the entire island and takes about 45 minutes.

“If people want to buy meat, they have to travel to the city, but much of the meat is hunted or raised.

“Hunting is very common in Canada and is part of our culture. When I was younger, I helped eviscerate the fish, but I never took part in the kill.”

Ella often has to travel to town to buy supplies, including staples and clothing.

She said, “We have to go into town to get more gasoline and essentials.

“Usually it was things like propane, gardening or building materials, and all the food that we longed for that we couldn’t grow ourselves.

“Normally we would only go there once a week. Living there is extremely cheap because you only pay for what you need.

“My parents built our house and bought some land from the government.

“Most of our beds are built and you can bring furniture with you on the boat. When we were younger we had cows that produced milk.

“We cooked on a wood stove and a cast iron pan.

“Keeping in touch with my family while traveling is difficult because they have no signal and I have to wait for them to go to another island to contact me.”

Ella describes the island as the “most peaceful place on earth”.

She added, “There were times when I hated it, especially winter when you were stuck there for months, but for me it’s the most calming and peaceful place.

“I wanted to travel because I really wanted to go out and explore the area. My father has a regular life now that he lives in a city.

“Right now there is a lot of pressure to become greener and more sustainable, but it’s hard for other people to understand my life.

“A lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them! It’s my mother’s safe haven and it will always be our home.”

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