Greetings from Canada
Notes from a Past Master’s daughter, and Liveryman – Elisabeth Finch
Elisabeth with her father, PM Geoff Marsh, to her right on the day of her admission to the Livery in 1996 and the late PM John Jones to her left
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada has been our home for over 17 years now. The plan was for me to be a Liveryman-abroad for just two years, but when my employer said I could stay, there was little hesitation before David and I decided to stay put in the city that offered so much to our family. Our two boys, who were just two and five when we came here, were also very much in favour of the decision – more skiing, soccer, cycling, all in such wonderful scenery, sounded good to them too.
I came to the Livery as the youngest offspring of Past Master Geoff Marsh and Past Mistress Ann Marsh, and having studied metallurgy and materials science at university. I worked in the metals industry for 11 years before doing a career-diversion into the world of cross-border international tax and it was this second career that brought us to Canada, with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Although I work with clients in all industries there is no doubt that I feel most at home when I’m advising clients in manufacturing and processing industries – just a little bit of “back to my roots” makes the work extra rewarding for me (and I hope for my clients as well!)
Our most recent family project here in BC has been to design and build our ‘forever home’ on the coast near Vancouver. Three years ago we discovered a village on the coast that seemed like a place we would like to live in retirement. Two years ago we bought a half acre lot and I am writing this from the comfort of a beautiful, and nicely sustainable house that has been built to our very precise specifications.
Perhaps inspired by Geoff’s early study of water usage in a family home (“Water for Six” – if any of you remember this publication, I was represented by the pram on the front cover!) we took some steps to be careful with water use. This is important because the area suffers from chronic water shortages and the local government isn’t taking enough steps to address this. The region is called the Sunshine Coast for good reason – the climate is milder and dryer than Vancouver and its environs, and suffers from a lack of investment in rainwater catchment. So we took the matter into our own hands and every drop of rain from our large expanse of roof is collected and fed into a grey water catchment tank. The plumbing in the house is also designed to re-use water. Grey water from sinks, basins, bath and showers is also routed to the grey water tank. This water is then used, with minimal processing, to flush the four WCs in the house (yes, we’ve designed the house for guests – friends and family all are expected). If the grey water runs out, the system automatically switches to feed the WCs from mains supply but we put in a really big tank so we hope that this doesn’t happen too often.
Right now, in the middle of a normal BC spring, we’ve been flushing on grey for six weeks and we are proud of our slightly murky WC water. The building inspector who came to sign off on the construction and issue the occupancy permit was impressed by the simplicity of the system, as are we. Our next project may just be to lobby the authorities to mandate grey water recycling in new builds. It will only be part of the solution to water shortages, but it could be a really important step.
Greetings from the Finch family here in Canada. We are staying safe and well and we wish the same to all the Livery and their families.