• Illustration of Alex Cuba by Lake Kathlyn, Smithers, B.C.

    Illustration: Kyle Scott/Can Geo

I’m originally from Cuba and was barely 24 when I came to Canada. From the very first time I visited, this country took my breath away. 

After living in Victoria for four years, my wife and I made the decision to move to Smithers, B.C., to be closer to her family. We have a summer cabin a few kilometres outside of town at Lake Kathlyn. It’s my favourite place to go — I just hop on my scooter and ride out there with my guitar slung on my back. The cabin sits on the lake’s edge, right at the foot of Hudson Bay Mountain. It’s a very small cabin, with just one bedroom, a bathroom and kitchen, but it’s in a beautiful environment. I feel very lucky to have nature so accessible. The loon, a beautiful, magical bird, comes around quite a bit. A few years ago, I started imitating the sound they make, and sometimes I’ll get a reply back. 

I go to Lake Kathlyn any chance I get, especially when I’ve been on the road touring for a long time. On hot days in the summer, we swim, hike, fish and make fires to roast food. Once in a while, I’ll relax with a Cuban cigar and an IPA beer and just jam out with my guitar. It’s a peaceful place, and I’ve written a number of my songs there, including “Vale Todo,” the opening track of my fifth album, Healer.

Moving to Smithers was one of the best decisions of my life. Many industry people think it doesn’t make any sense to move to a remote area as a musician because you’re supposed to stay in the city if you want to continue finding success. But I didn’t buy into that fear. Instead, I said it was time to put my family first. And Smithers has made me very creative with my music. I have the time to do it, and now I have the concentration.

— As told to Kiley Bell