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.
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.
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.
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.
"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
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
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.
And 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.