Ed’s hands once helped build multi-million dollar homes

Ed’s hands once helped build multi-million dollar homes

Man comes off the streets and onto Woodwynn Farms

Woodwynn's Richard Leblanc swaps places with Brentwood Bay's 'the guy in the white van' for Journey to the Edges campaign

The Peninsula News Review’s Erin Cardone is the first reporter to talk to “Ed,” who is half of a campaign to raise awareness of Woodwynn Farms.

Editor’s note: Ed is an alias, used to protect the identity of the man in this story.

As they stomp up to the red farmhouse door, mud clinging to their boots, Ed and Sue talk fences. They’ll need to install a barrier on the farm soon, maybe today. The pigs and ducks have already been fed.

Hours earlier, Ed awoke in his bed – in a bedroom – including pillow, blanket, and a bathroom nearby.

It’s an average life, quite normal for most. But for Ed, it’s a far cry from what his life has looked like these past two years.

He had just started a new carpentry job when a rung of the ladder snapped beneath him. Ed, then 56, fell and his foot broke.

“I was out of work,” he says. “I had just started a job. An hour into the job the step on the ladder broke.”

Next, the hydro was cut off in the house he rented. Then he was homeless, living from his white Chevrolet van, usually in Brentwood Bay, the community he’s called home for 27 years.

For Ed, trading homes with Woodwynn executive director Richard Leblanc, who now sleeps in Ed’s van is about awareness of homelessness, how homeless people are treated, the importance of Woodwynn and the unavailability of jobs. He has no criminal record and no addiction issues. He wants people to know that homelessness exists on the Peninsula – not just downtown.

“There’s more homeless people out there than you actually think. … They want to live just like you do, but they just don’t get a chance. This thing at Woodwynn is such a good thing for everybody, but in [Central Saanich] they say, ‘Not in my back yard.’ Open up your eyes and give your head a shake.”

Calls to potential employers have turned out fruitless for the carpenter. At 58, he’s too old to be in demand.

For now, Woodwynn’s wooden farmhouse painted white with the red door is home. On the livingroom couch, beneath framed words such as “love” and “respect,” Ed pauses from his story, looking down to hide the tears that streak his cheeks, then continues in broken sentences.

“Being here on Woodwynn Farms, it’s awesome. Such nice people. I can’t thank them enough. House. Warmth. I can cook and just the people themselves. Awesome. Their hearts are so big.

“I don’t know what I’d be doing. Still living in my van, going to the library all day long, then wait for the sun to set so I can park. That way nobody harasses you.

“Ah man. I do not recommend it to anybody, living out there.”

Two years of homelessness in the van he shared with his shaggy 16-year-old dog Kye, reshaped Ed.

“It made me a better person because now I know the answers I didn’t know before,” he says with a little bitterness. “When you look at somebody don’t judge him by what he does. You can’t judge a book by its cover. There’s some really nice people out there on the street. Some of it is their choosing and some of it is not.”


Good neighbours

On Monday, Feb. 20, Ed was invited to Mark’s Work Wearhouse in Sidney.

There, staff put $500 worth of work clothes into his cart.

The owner, Doug Bateman told Ed, “We’re your neighbours and this is what neighbours do.”

Just Posted

BC Housing has brought in sanitation trailers to the former Mount Tolmie Hospital site so its current residents can access clean water, showers, sinks and toilets after a collapsed sewer pipe impacted water service to the building. (Google Streetview)
Mount Tolmie Hospital homelessness shelter using sanitation trailers after pipe collapse

Travelodge shelter residents faced intermittent hot water supply in late May, early June

COVID-19 exposures have been reported at Colquitz Middle School and Tillicum Elementary School, both on June 14. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
Two Saanich schools report COVID-19 exposures

Exposures reported at Colquitz Middle School and Tillicum Elementary School

Staff will be reviewing public feedback from second-stage designs for cycling infrastructure in James Bay, part of the City of Victoria’s 32-kilometre network. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria sends James Bay bike lanes choice to next phase

Design modifications based on community input to be delivered to council this summer

An eastern cottontail rabbit on the UVic campus. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
Wild rabbits persist at the University of Victoria

Feral rabbits are still absent, but another non-native species has arrived on campus

With local high schoolers unable to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions, Amica Douglas House celebrated the momentous occasion of eight of their dining room servers. (Courtesy Amica Douglas House)
8 Greater Victoria teens don fancy dresses, celebrate grad with seniors

With celebrations nixed, Amica Douglas House hosts event for its serving staff

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Photos displayed at a vigil for former Nanaimo outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found June 3 and whose death RCMP are investigating as a homicide. (News Bulletin photo)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

Syringes prepared with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine are seen at a vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Vaccine first doses now available for walk-ins on Vancouver Island

People aged 18+ can walk in for their first COVID-19 vaccine

Most Read