Nfld. & Labrador

Self-isolation has Port Blandford man out in the cold — and it's where he wants to be

Blaine Tucker of Port Blanford had nowhere to self-isolate when he returned from Fort McMurray so he's staying in a prospector's tent in his driveway.

Blaine Tucker is living in a tent for 14 days while fiancée and child stay inside the house

Blaine Tucker's nine-year-old golden retriever, Cooper, keeps him company while he's in self-isolation. (Submitted by Blaine Tucker)

A man in Port Blandford, N.L., is taking strict measures to keep his family safe while he self-isolates.

Blaine Tucker is living in a prospector's tent in his driveway until his 14 days are up, on April 8.

"If I tried hard enough, I'm sure people would have offered me a place but this is … where I want to be. I want to be here with my family," he said.

Tucker, an operator at a Suncor camp in Fort McMurray, Alta., knew he had to self-isolate from his fiancée and child when he returned to Newfoundland and Labrador but said there was nowhere in the house to safely keep his distance. When his fiancée suggested the tent, it seemed like the best option.

The prospector's tent, also known as a Labrador tent, is made of fire-retardant canvas and has no floor. Tucker said some men in the community helped set it up while he was still away. There's a bed in there from the house, a chair and a collage of family pictures to remind him why he's doing it.

The tent is equipped with a small wood stove but it needs to be filled every hour and with all the wet weather the past few days, Tucker admits it's been hard to keep the place warm. 

It's been cold in the mornings but Tucker says it's a small price to pay knowing his family is safe. (Submitted by Wanda Williams)

"I try to stay off the floor … and me and my puppy, Cooper, we stay on the mattress the most we can, although the blankets are a bit damp."

Tucker does have access to a bathroom in the basement of the house, which he said is separate from everything else.

He may be in isolation but Tucker does get help from others.

People in the community drop off food and supplies in the driveway and his fiancée, Wanda Williams, leaves his meals outside the door. 

Tucker's daughter, Ella Rose, will celebrate her first birthday this week. He won't get to hold her but they'll have a visit through the living room window. (Submitted by Wanda Williams)

"We talk through the window a couple times a day," Williams said. "And we Facetime at night when he's in the tent."

It's been pretty challenging at times but she said they're trying to make some fun out of it too. 

"I told people I should have thought of this a year ago," she joked about Tucker living in the tent.

Tucker said it's surreal to be so close to his family but still separated, especially from his daughter, Ella Rose, whose first birthday is Friday.

"It's like I'm in a dream. Like I can't touch my daughter — but she's so close — or even my fiancée," he said. "It's a living nightmare. I'm hoping this will stop soon."

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Cherie Wheeler is a Corner Brook radio producer working with CBC Newfoundland Morning.

With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning