NOTE: This is still under construction. A few things (like the pictures) still need to be added.
David & Charlena were born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. We met in 1985 at high school and fell in love. <heart image>
We have 4 children:
Jennifer (28) is married and has given us one grand-daughter, Annabelle (1.5). She was the principal of a private school until Annabelle was born, and now is a stay-at-home mom. <pic of all 3>
Benjamin (27) works with children who have been affected by fetal substance abuse. <pic of Ben & Michi>
Kyle (25) is trained as a heavy equipment operator. He is currently working with us on our yacht. <pic of Kyle>
Rebecca (22) is attending university (from our sail boat), working towards her doctorate in Psychology, specializing in Women's Issues so that she can help women in need. <pic of Becky>
In 2002 we left Toronto and moved to a small community outside Sudbury.
With a large country property, Charlena finally got to have the dogs she always wanted and began dog-sledding. The first year saw the kennel grow from 9 dogs to 19. While it was enjoyable, it was a lot of work, and a year or two later, Charlena decided she would get rid of the dogs. Jennifer's response was "No, you're not!". So Jennifer took over ownership of the kennels, along with the bills. To help cover those bills while she was attending Laurentian University, she began offering dog sled rides to friends and other students.
Early December, 2005, Jennifer and Becky had taken the horses for a ride out back. While walking the horses, Jennifer's horse kicked and shattered the bones in her right arm. It took several metal plates to put the bones back together, and several surgeries to move/re-attach muscles. Then months of therapy and rehab, to regain strength and proper control, but with a lot of hard work, she eventually recovered.
In 2007, while attending Laurentian University towards her BA in Psychology, she officially opened M.U.S.H.E.R.S. Dog-Sled Tours (M.U.S.H.E.R.S. is an acronym for Making Unique Siberian Husky Experiences Running Sleds).
With a five year business plan, she opened her business with the help of a $50,000 loan from the Ontario Government. This was the largest loan ever made to an 18 year old. The business did very well, and she achieved her 5 year goal on the second season. By the third season she had a 1 year waiting list for clients.
Tours were offered Friday, Saturday, and Sundays, and in the 10 week winter season grossed over $100,000.
One of her largest group of clients was a tour group from the Chinese community in Toronto, who would arrive by the bus load (50+ individuals) for a day of dog-sledding, tobogganing, ice-skating, and enjoying the outdoors.
On February 13, 2011 a Chinese TV station in Toronto, WOW TV, visited us along with a collection of other reporters and news persons to film an episode for their show "This Is Canada". The video is below, although a majority of it is in Cantonese, all of Jennifer's parts are in English.
In 2012 Jennifer began to suffer from fibromyalgia, brought on from her horse injury years earlier. She began cutting back on the number of tours, and began looking at selling the business.
From 2000 through 2011 we ran Sudbury East Farms. We raised a selection of animals in a relaxing, natural environment and were Certified Naturally Grown. With over 200 animals on the farm, as well as a small garden area, our goods were in great demand. We raised rabbits, chickens (both for eggs and meat), sheep, goats (producing meat, milk, and yogurt), cows, pigs, ducks and a goose. The animals were extremely friendly and visitors to M.U.S.H.E.R.S. got to visit with our animals as well.
June 29th, 2011 saw Kyle & Jennifer in Sudbury for the day, while Ben cut the grass, Rebecca swam in the pool, and Charlena & David relaxing on the back deck. Shortly before 2:30 in the afternoon, Rebecca walked into the house to get a drink, and on her way back out discovered that the living room had caught fire. An investigation by our insurance company eventually traced the source to a faulty electrical outlet. But at that point, all we new was that the living room wall was ablaze. We made sure everyone was out of the house and called the fire department. David went in with fire extinguishers to try and put out the fire, but with toxic black smoke quickly filling the living room he abandoned the attempt and left the house. <pic of fire>
Living in a rural community means that the fire department is volunteer. As it turns out the worst time to have a fire is the middle of a week day as all the fire fighters are off at their jobs. About 30 minutes after the fire was discovered the first fire trucks started arriving. Over the next short while four local towns sent their entire fire departments to help with the massive blaze. The Ministry of Natural Resources, charged with protecting forests in Ontario, sent out two helicopters to survey the area and make sure the fire was not spreading into the woods. The smoke from the fire could be seen over a 600 square kilometer area.
<pic of remains>By 8pm that evening, the fire was out and the fire fighters left, leaving us with a charred hole in the ground. The house, garage, barn, and over a half dozen vehicles were completely destroyed, with nothing salvageable. 29 years of memories, baby photos, kids' artwork, everything, was all gone.
But, aside from some smoke inhalation to Charlena, Becky, and Ben, no person or animal had been injured. In fact, the farm animals had all stood in their paddocks watching everything burn (luckily the smoke was heading away from them so none of them panicked).
With no running water on the property we had to truck in barrels of water from a farm down the road (a big thanks out to Jeff Fremlin at Fremlin Farms). We had already been considering selling the farm animals, and this pushed us to proceed. We called a person we had been in consultation with previously, offering them 1/2 off our previous offer if they took everything, and took them now. They jumped at the offer and within a week all the livestock had left our farm.
Our insurance company was quick, and treated us well, and 6 months later, we celebrated Christmas in our new house (we officially moved in 10 days later, but we were able to spend Xmas day in the house).
<pic of new house>
While we now owned a beautiful, new, 4500 square foot house, it simply wasn't "home". Our kids who had been staying with relatives in Barrie during the re-build had begun new lives as adults, and within a year had all moved out.
In July of 2014, Kyle was working at the Honda Manufacturing facility in Allison, Ontario as a tow-motor operator, driving trains around inside the plant. Driving home from work one day, while stopped at a red light, he was rear-ended at 80km/h by a driver playing on their cellphone. Kyle suffered a traumatic brain injury and moved home for us to look after him. Two years of therapy at a brain clinic in Barrie, and another in North Bay saw some improvements, but he still suffered. Moving to the boat (see below) has greatly reduced his symptoms and he has now recovered fully.
<pic of boat>In 2015, with most of the kids moved out, we sold our house. We sold not only the house, but everything we owned,all as a package. This included the house and property, as well as everything inside the house like the furniture, artwork, linens, dishes, plus all the items outside the house like vehicles, tractor, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, and a motor yacht.
We then purchased an 11.5 meter Wildcat catamaran sail boat, Sail Quest. After spending some time upgrading nearly everything in the boat, we sailed for The Bahamas. You can view our sailing blog here: www.SailQuest.ca
We left Canada several years ago and spent a few years sailing in The Bahamas. Our blog is here: http://sailquest.ca/