Jim Saunders didn't want his Aunt Sheila to leave Labrador, so he built her a place to live

Sheila Saunders's nephew feared that the family land might have to be sold off, and his aunt might have to move out of town to find an affordable place to live.
Sheila Saunders and her nephew, Jim Saunders, pose for a photo outside Sheila's new house. (Bailey White/CBC)

It was a part of their family history, and no one wanted to give it up.

Sheila Saunders lived in the house her parents built back in the 1950s when families from coastal Labrador first moved into what was then simply known as Happy Valley.

It wasn't fancy. The little house was built on a wooden foundation using whatever materials were on hand in those days. Over six decades of harsh Labrador winters, it fell into disrepair.

The house Sheila's father built was 60 years old and the roof sagged. The Saunders family didn't know how many more winters it could stand. (Submitted)

"The old house, when it leaked, it just made me feel so bad. I used to clean so much and I just couldn't get anywhere with it," Saunders said.

Her nephew Jim Saunders feared the worst — that the family land might have to be sold off, and his aunt might have to move out of town to find an affordable place to live.

When his mother approached him about building a new house for Sheila, Jim didn't hesitate.

No house? I'll build one, insists family member 1:27

His parents chipped in $5,000, and Jim enlisted local contractors to quickly build on the same land.

"Obviously there's a cost involved in it, but the priority was that Aunt Sheila was safe and comfortable," Jim said.

"She deserves it. She deserves to have a good life."  

About the Author

Bailey White

CBC News

Bailey White is co-host of Labrador Morning on CBC Radio One. She's based in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.