Shannon and Terry Keough formed the Wildfire Gypsies after their home was destroyed in a 2015 forest fire. Tom Best photo

Wildfire Gypsies turn loss into inspiration

The Keoughs have found adventure in the wake of personal tragedy.

The last few summers, no one has been needed to remind us of the dangers of wildfires and the havoc that they can wreak up us. Here in the Bulkley Valley we’ve been lucky and have been able to avoid the destruction that these fires can bring.

We may have been lucky but not everybody else has. Meet the Wildfire Gypsies.

When I was first assigned to find out about this fascinating musical couple, I was thinking more along the lines of the cultural group that is also known as the Romani. After listening to their latest album, Wildfire Gypsies, I was a bit confused.

The music was much more like the Maritime melodies that I grew up hearing. Fairly simple, lilting tunes that told easy stories to understand and certainly not hard on the ears. Not a hint of the eastern European background I was expecting.

Artists Terry and Shannon Keough have a gripping tale to tell. Those fires we read about and see on the news became an integral part of their lives in 2015 when fire swept through their southern B.C. home and completely destroyed their house.

They were fortunate to have insurance coverage but when they had a chance to look around and consider what they would do next, the rubble that was left of their home was not a very attractive site.

“When we looked around, it was all burned out and we couldn’t see living there,” said Terry.

The next step was to consider what to do with their family, which includes two daughters who live with them. The result was a plan to travel across the country and see some of those things that many people never get the opportunity to visit and enjoy.

For example, the Maritimes had some relatives so they headed out and enjoyed that part of the country. It offered structures and people unlike anywhere else but whose influence we experience on a regular basis. For example, you might be able to see the occasional covered bridge in other parts of the country but nowhere will you find the number that are still available to view in New Brunswick.

On the other hand, you can’t find mountains anywhere else like in B.C. Now they spend winters skiing and snowshoeing in Osoyoos with its relatively mild winters and beautiful snowy hills. Summers afford the chance to head out in their “modern day gypsy caravan” seeking adventures throughout this great country.

Along the way they write and play their music and experience whatever happenings they can enjoy.

This is not just a pair of mature hippies looking for new things to do. Fate has given them an opportunity to do what they want to do and they have jumped at that chance. This summer Smithers was a destination because in the past, they could not spend the time here they would have liked.

Find out more about the Wildfire Gypsies at their website wildfiregypsies.ca.

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