The Cedar Log Cabin
The Story of Living In & Restoring a Settler's Log Cabin
Finding a Settler's Cedar Log Cabin
Scouting Trip April 2006
We purchased the log cabin in September of 2006, but that was not the first time I had seen it. In April of 2006, while still living in London, I made a scouting trip to the Bancroft & Haliburton area to check out the area in general and look at a couple of places that were listed for sale. The cabin was one of the places to check out. Interestingly, the real estate ad made no mention that it was a log cabin, let alone a cedar log cabin.
Although the area around the cabin was beautiful, the cabin was very disappointing on the outside, and looking through the windows showed a place in a very bad state of repair. I did notice it was a log cabin, but it was a wreck, with a sagging roof with holes in it, and the logs themselves were painted white on the inside and covered with cement on the outside. I had no idea it was made of cedar.
The yard was a complete mess, with piles of dirt, garbage, wrecked cars and uneven ground with holes in it. The cabin seemed to be set low in the ground with rot everywhere, and trenches around the back of the cabin wall. The whole thing just seemed to be a disaster.
I was not impressed, and made the trip back to London after checking out more of the area around Bancroft and Haliburton.
In September, after all issues regarding selling the houses in London were settled, we moved up to Aylen Lake, just east of Algonquin Park, and rented a cottage as a base to look for a place to buy. Aylen Lake was further north of the area we were looking at, but it was close enough and turned out to be a fantastic lucky break. That time at Aylen lake was very enjoyable. After fixing up and selling the homes in London, then moving, it was a needed rest. Right away, my cat Cornelius seemed to improve - his breathing problems lessened, so it seemed like moving out of the city to the country was a good idea.
Picture of the cottage (beige cottage in center) we stayed at while at Aylen lake.
We rented a boat on a beautiful morning while at Aylen lake.
Pamela with Cornelius on the beach in front of the cottage we rented.
Dogs always took to Cornelius, and within a day Cornelius had a friend to hang out at the beach with.
Cornelius loved spending time on the beach just watching boats and waves. He was so happy here, and it made me feel so good to see him happy and well.
I had never piloted a boat before, but even though I was nervous, this was great fun.
We looked at a few places while at Aylen lake, but none seemed to fit the bill overall. Pamela then noticed that the cabin I had looked at was still for sale. I was not interested, having seen it six months earlier and unimpressed, but Pamela wanted to have a look, so made arrangements with the listing agent for a viewing. Although there were the problems I noted, on the plus side the location and potential was very good. Pamela liked it, and for some reason I was more optimistic seeing it the second time. I think part of the reason was, the area was so beautiful that time of year. We bought it, and were to take possession in mid October 2006.
To our surprise, we found out the cabin had sold after I had seen it in April. The person who bought it was the one who sold it to us. We found out much later from a neighbour across the road, that after buying it and carefully looking it over, the new owner felt it was in such a bad state it was not worth restoring, and he decided to sell it. He had purchased homes and restored them for resale in the past.
Picture of the cabin front taken on the scouting trip in April 2006.
Picture of the cabin back taken on the scouting trip in April 2006.
History of the Cabin
I learned the history of the cabin over the span of a couple years after moving in. I was lucky, in that the neighbour who owned the property behind me, was the grandson of the man who built the cabin, and the couple who lived across the road lived in the cabin many years before. In fact, they were the ones who moved it to its present location. It never even crossed my mind that it might have been moved.
The following information was told to me in bits and pieces over time.
The best guess, is that the cabin was built sometime between 1905 and 1907, by new immigrants to Canada. Their last name was McClean and were Scottish immigrants who landed in Montreal. In Montreal, they got title to a 100 acre property south of Bancroft, in Dungannon county. The story I was told, was that the husband and wife walked from Montreal to the property with a cow. It is approximately 400 km from Montreal to Bancroft.
The first thing they did, was build the cabin from logs on the property. On this property there still are some white cedar trees that are remarkable in size on a steep hill behind the cabin.
They lived in the cabin for a few years, then built a larger house. After they built the new house, the cabin was used as a barn for farm animals for years. After that, one end was removed and it was used as a garage for a tractor after a new barn was built.
In the late 1950's, a 1.3 acre parcel of the original 100 acre property was severed off and given to friends of the family – Bill and Elva Stevens, who were the neighbours who lived across the road from the cabin when I lived there. Bill and nine other local men took the cabin apart, log by log, and moved it to its present location on the 1.3 acre property.
Bill and Elva lived in the cabin for a few years, then moved to the property across the road where they built another house. After they moved, many other owners lived in the cabin.
It then sat empty for 14 years with different owners - none of whom lived in it. One owner dug out from under the main part of the cabin, and put in a concrete block foundation, but stopped at that point.
In the early summer of 2006, not too long after I had first looked at it in April 2006, someone bought the cabin who was a renovator, but according to the neighbours, just decided it wasn't worth the effort after spending a few days looking it over carefully. He put it back on the market. In September, Pamela and I bought it.
The 1.3 acre property that was split off from the original 100 acres. April 2006.
Looking in through back window on the April 2006 scouting trip.
Looking in through front window on the April 2006 scouting trip.
Yard and cabin were a mess. April 2006.
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