Survivalists and hobbyists in Canada say they have noticed an increase in interest among Canadians to learn more about survivalism techniques since the pandemic began. Dave MacDonald, shown in a handout photo, teaches surivivalist courses in Manitoba and says some of his class sizes have doubled and quadrupled. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dave MacDonald MANDATORY CREDIT

Survivalists and hobbyists in Canada say they have noticed an increase in interest among Canadians to learn more about survivalism techniques since the pandemic began. Dave MacDonald, shown in a handout photo, teaches surivivalist courses in Manitoba and says some of his class sizes have doubled and quadrupled. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dave MacDonald MANDATORY CREDIT

‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst:’ More Canadians interested in survivalism

Some survivalists may be prepping for the end of the world, but for others it’s about being prepared

Many Canadians were not prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, but Dave MacDonald wasn’t one of them.

While some people rushed to stores to buy toilet paper and food, MacDonald was living peacefully at his remote home in southern Manitoba with his wife and two sons.

They live “off-grid” near the town of Lac du Bonnet and grow about half their own food in their backyard. MacDonald also hunts.

“I don’t even need toilet paper,” the 55-year-old says.

“I can use snow, leaves or my hands. Snow is most stimulating.”

MacDonald is a part of a growing community of survivalists or “preppers,” who ready themselves for possible catastrophes that could crumble governments and infrastructure.

Some say they have noticed an uptick in interest in the movement since the pandemic began.

MacDonald, who teaches survivalist courses, also had a long career as a search-and-rescue specialist with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

“I’ve seen plane crashes. I’ve seen boats on fire. I’ve seen people fall overboard. I’ve seen helicopters crash. I’ve seen trains derail. I’ve seen factories explode. I’ve seen wars break out everywhere,” he says.

“People get themselves into trouble because they figure, ‘Oh, that’s never gonna happen to me.’ And then when it does happen, because it does happen, they’re not prepared.’”

COVID-19 is one of those events that people weren’t prepared for, says MacDonald, who believes that’s why many have enrolled in his International Canadian School of Survival.

He teaches firearm training and basic survival skills such as food rationing, land navigation and building fires. The number of students in his courses have doubled — and in his online classes they have quadruped — since the pandemic began.

Some survivalists may be prepping for the end of the world, but for MacDonald it’s about being prepared.

“There are three classifications: emergency survival, primitive living skills and bush craft. I teach mostly emergency survival. Bush craft is when you’re out in the wilderness and refining your skills in the wilderness. And primitive living is when people want to do things the old-fashioned way.”

ALSO READ: More than 15,000 people have died in Canada due to COVID-19

Ryan Pearce, 35, of Saskatoon doesn’t live off-grid. He says he is a hobbyist who enjoys learning bush craft.

His online group called “Preppers & Survivalists of Canada” has more than 6,000 members. Since the pandemic began, the group has seen a 50 per cent increase in participants, he says.

“Some of them are moms asking, ‘How do I refrigerate my meat like our grandparents used to do?’ or just preparing food out of your gardens or hunting,” Pearce says.

Jonathan Rawlesis a co-founder of a website called Survival Realty based in the United States.

More Americans and Canadians are buying remote properties in rural Alberta and British Columbia, he says.

“Since the coronavirus pandemic and panic started, we’ve seen our web traffic for interest in rural off-grid remote survival properties double,” Rawles says from his home in Idaho.

Many buyers are attracted to the simple way of living that survivalism offers, he adds.

“We see people concerned about the virus being in a densely populated city. But then we also see people who now have freedom to relocate and live where they want to be because of remote work,” Rawles says.

“And so this has been something that’s really pushing people to make changes perhaps they’ve been intending to or wanting to for a long time.”

The Canadian government recommends people be prepped for at least a 48-hour disaster, MacDonald points out.

“You should be prepared to scoop your family and move out of an area if there’s a natural or man-made disaster. And then you need to sustain yourself for 72 hours and hope for the best, yet prepare for the worst.”

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Port of Prince Rupert has experienced another year of increased cargo volumes, shipped through the city, with more than $50 billion in international trade facilitated through the area, the Port Authority announced on Jan. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Port cargo volume growth continues despite pandemic obstacles

Prince Rupert Port authority announces $50 billion in international trade

The IIO B.C. is seeking witnesses to an arrest made in Penticton on Nov. 8, during which the male resisted and sustained a head injury. (File Photo)
The Independent InvestigationsOffice of B.C. released a report on Jan. 18 that a Prince Rupert RCMP officer is cleared of any serious harm wrongdoing from a May 29, 2020 incident. (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigation clears Prince Rupert police officer

IIO investigated May 29 incident where woman fell 25 metres in Prince Rupert

Face masks are required to be worn in all SD 52 common areas such as hallways. School District 52 announced on Jan. 15 three different schools in Prince Rupert all had a member of the school community test positive for COVID-19. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
3 Prince Rupert schools have positive COVID-19 case(s)

Letters sent home to families in three Prince Rupert schools announcing COVID-19

Power outages affected thousands of BC Hydro customers in the north on Jan. 14 (File photo) (File photo)
Power outages affect thousands of BC Hydro customers in northern B.C.

Transmission failure led to outages in Prince Rupert and Port Edward

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

The IIO B.C. is seeking witnesses to an arrest made in Penticton on Nov. 8, during which the male resisted and sustained a head injury. (File Photo)
The Independent InvestigationsOffice of B.C. released a report on Jan. 18 that a Prince Rupert RCMP officer is cleared of any serious harm wrongdoing from a May 29, 2020 incident. (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigation clears Prince Rupert police officer

IIO investigated May 29 incident where woman fell 25 metres in Prince Rupert

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read