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

Harrison Hot Springs Elementary will be getting a solar power system this summer. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer) [Harrison Hot Springs Elementary, Jan. 18, 2021]
Harrison Elementary to get solar power this summer

The $300K project will see the school moving towards carbon neutrality

Mackenzie Ashley-Lynn Gilfillan was last seen Jan. 10 in the 45000-block of Menholm Road. (RCMP photo)
RCMP asking for help to find missing Chilliwack woman

Mackenzie Ashley-Lynn Gilfillan was last seen Jan. 10 in the 45000-block of Menholm Road

Chilliwack Chiefs
Chilliwack Chiefs acquire forward Ben Woodhouse from Wellington Dukes

The BCHL club swapped future considerations to the Dukes for the 20-year-old forward

An Abbotsford man was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 3 on Monday, Jan. 18. (Black Press file photo)
Abbotsford man killed in Highway 3 crash near Hedley

Fatality was discovered by passing tow truck driver

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

(Realtor.ca)
Rent dropped to 2019 rates across parts of Metro Vancouver in December: Rentals.ca report

Rent costs have declined since May, a trend expected to continue due in part to the COVID pandemic

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

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

Most Read