Direcway Ontario


Dunchurch

Northeastern Ontario
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Log House with high-speed Internet access

  Satellite Internet Service for a Legend in the World of Log Building

Satellite Internet service is wonderful for remote locations that are not served by any other broadband connections. You can achieve blistering downloads on large files over a satellite Internet connection. In the time that I had my satellite Internet dish I saw many downloads rocket through the air at high speed rates better then 1.5mbps.

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Out here it pays to be self sufficient: the nearest town is across the river and down a gruelling four-wheel-drive track - about 2 hours away in the dry season. There's no telephone, no mains electricity, no anything really. Except, surprisingly, broadband internet access, in all its glory. With a satellite dish outside the house, and electricity provided by solar panels and a current inverter, Dunchurch in Rainbow Country - Ontario is possibly the world's least likely broadband Internet nerd.

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Thousands of people know B. Allan Mackie through his log building courses which take place around the world and through the many books he has written. 

Satellite Internet in log house Just recently, I've had the pleasure of corresponding with Allan Mackie through e-mail, as he graciously permitted log-world.com to reprint excerpts from "The Canadian Log House". Since 1997, Allan has been homesteading in Northern Ontario on the shores of Shanty Lake. Last summer, the walls of his new big house, Ardea, were moved onto the foundation beside the lake and the roof is now in place.

Along with June Kingshott of Bracebridge, ON, I made the trek north to spend a few hours visiting with Allan Mackie on his new property. During the 3 1/2 hour drive, June and I had a chance to chat about how she came to know Allan Mackie. She participated in one of Allan's courses in 1976 at Camp Candalore in Dorest, ON. An adult educator by training, June was interested at the time in constructing a log bunkie on her Ontario cottage property. She proved that even a small woman who had spent most of her life in a classroom (gaining her B.A., M.Ed. and then teaching), could handle a chainsaw!

There's something indescribable about the passion held by so many people in the log world for building with logs. And it is this passion that is so evident in B. Allan Mackie. He met June and I out on a side road the  morning we arrived and led us down the freshly plowed 3 km driveway to his country property. Following his 4x4 Pathfinder along the bumps and curves of the narrow road Allan calls "Unnecessary Mountain", I marveled how this 76 year old man manages to do the work necessary to survive on this wild piece of land.

Satellite Internet in log house "I didn't feel it was right to blast through all the rock on this land to make a road, so we just built over it," Allan told me after we'd finally arrived at his small hemlock bunkie on the shores of Shanty Lake. And when June asked what differences Allan had noticed between the years of living in British Columbia and the time he had now spent in Ontario, Allan replied "The quality of wood and how much rock there is here." 

Whenever Allan dug down in the earth while making his road, he hit rock. "There's hardly any dirt. No gravel. Just big rocks and clay. In B.C., there's always gravel to be found."
In this land carved out by glaciers, Allan has managed to overcome all obstacles. Until Ardea is completed, he lives in a bunkie built from hemlock logs. Ardea itself is constructed from pine. There is no hydro, no running water. A solar panel outside the bunkie's front door provides power to run a 12 volt light and his computer. Propane provides additional fuel for refrigeration, stove and more lights. He visits a neighbor whenever he needs to use a telephone. Cell phones just don't work in the middle of the  bush. "I am trying to make as little impact as possible on the land here,"  Allan explained. 

It's rather ironic that he spends the worst months of the year on Shanty  Lake. Most of his teaching happens in the more temperate months of the  year. So, he 'enjoys' his property during the winter.

"I'm off to Germany in April. Then Denmark and Korea. I have to be in Vancouver at the end of August, so I won't get to see the fall colours here."

Over a lunch of salmon sandwiches and freshly made coffee, we talked  about many things. Allan feels strongly that there is no reason for  homelessness in our society. "This is a huge country," he said, "with lots of space if people were given the chance to build their own homes. There are too many regulations. I believe in standards (in building) but not regulations. They just stifle creativity."

After lunch, Allan led us on a tour of the 'big house', Ardea. Although the roof has been installed, the openings still await their doors and windows. A concrete floor with radiant heating has yet to be poured. There is insulation to be installed in the ceilings and boards to be put in place over the fiberglass there. Still to come is the fireplace and numerous other items before Ardea becomes a home.

"There's never enough time." Allan smiled. "But like the Egyptians said thousands of years ago, if I got everything done, then my life would be over."

Standing in what will be the main living area, I looked up and noticed that the main ridge beam had been carved with the names of everyone who had helped in the construction of the house. Allan seemed surprised that I had noticed. "Nobody ever looks up," he said. I notice another one of those jobs that are still left to be completed. Because of scheduling issues, the round log rafters in the ceiling were put up before they'd been completely peeled. Allan already knows several youngsters who will be put to work on that job later in the year.

 Satellite Internet in log houseAnd then there are the beavers. "There was 7' of water down here last year," Allan points out. "Just down in the swamp, there's a beaver dam. We're doing what we can to prevent it from happening again. But, like all the wild animals around, they were here before I was. I'm the intruder."

What I noticed most about this amazing man was his sense of belonging to his place on earth, his calm and accepting manner. His eyes are full of intelligence and you can almost hear the gears constantly moving in his brain. B. Allan Mackie is still teaching, building, writing and finding time to share his thoughts and experiences with others. 

"If I stop doing things," he told me, "I get sick." 

He kindly led the way back down his heart-stopping road, pointing out the tree stump that had been almost turned into a sculpture by a resident Pileated Woodpecker. He climbed out of his vehicle once we reached the end of the road to say goodbye. When I shook his hand, I had the overwhelming feeling that I had just made a strong connection with a kindred spirit. Allan Mackie will carry on with his passion for wood and living, teaching and learning. And the rest of the log world will be better for having him in it. 

In an e-mail the next day, Allan apologized for not putting out the Oreo cookies and butter tarts that he had bought in honor of our visit. He said he'd been overwhelmed by our charm and thus forgot about the sweets. I think it was the other way around. It was June and I who had been charmed! It's not often one has the opportunity to spend such a pleasant afternoon with a man who has become a legend in the world of log building. And to discover that he is a truly great human being.

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