A floating “bridge” to bring a community together—literally

There’s always been a genial rivalry between cabin owners on either side of Headwater Lake, B.C., says Pat Bil, who’s  owned a cabin there for the last five years. Those on the “lighter side” of the lake are lucky enough to get the afternoon sun; consequently, cottagers on the “dark side” of the lake would boat over (usually on homemade pontoon-like “barges”) to take advantage of the rays on the longest days of summer. The Lighter Side cottagers—including Pat and her husband, Bill Heinrich—often jokingly chided the Dark Siders for motoring over on their floating patios.

“But one sunny afternoon last year, I thought, How fun would it be to try to ‘bridge our differences’ and see if we could line up all of our floatable crafts to bridge our community together,” says Pat. 

Fighting fires with fiery volunteers

Along with her friend Gwen Chapman, Pat organized Bridge Over Headwaters on the August long weekend. The pair sent out emails to all 32 property owners on the lake. At noon on the Sunday, Bill unfurled a long length of yellow marine rope, stretched it across the lake, and had all the boats take up position alongside. “I counted at least 11 barges,” says Pat. “But people also came in their canoes, kayaks, and tinnies.”

In theory, the plan was straightforward and simple. How hard could it be to line up a bunch of boats? “But it was like herding cats,” says Pat. “It was hilarious to watch.” Eventually, after a lot of hollering and hand gestures, the Lighter Side and the Dark Side were united, a chain of dozens of watercraft connecting the two shores. Mission accomplished. Mostly: “The idea was that afterwards, everyone would come over to our cabin for happy hour and to get a group photo,” says Pat. “Unfortunately, a lot of people didn’t read their emails thoroughly.” Well, there’s always next year!

This story was originally published as part of the collection “Better Together” in the June/July 2020 issue of Cottage Life magazine. Read about other cottagers delivering pizza for a good cause and others working together to fight phragmites.


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