Dear Friends: When I wanted to salvage a wrecked log cabin and bring it home, my husband thought I was off my rocker! Now it’s a charming addition to our acreage, and a perfect home for my favourite Canadiana collectables.
About fifteen years ago, I caught wind of an old log cabin in our town that was going to be bulldozed to make way for new development.
When I first saw it, I wasn’t impressed.
The roof was shot and it was in pretty rough shape.
The cabin had belonged to former newspaper publishers Ron and Belle Ede, and rumoured to be an old trapper’s cabin before they acquired it. I just couldn’t bear to let this piece of local history disappear.
I convinced my husband that we could use it for a garden shed.
We hired our young friend Chris Hamp to dismantle it, numbering all the logs.
When he finished, he then moved the logs into our yard.
Chris then set about reassembling it. Of course, this turned out to be a much bigger job than we anticipated. He peeled the logs, added a new cedar shake roof, new windows, and a little front deck.
By the time he finished, it was far too nice to use as a garden shed, so we turned it into a bunkie instead. It’s now a beautiful addition to our acreage, both inside and out.
I had the pleasant task of furnishing it with many of the vintage items we already owned.
LOG CABIN TOUR
Welcome to my log cabin! Please duck your head when stepping through the front door — it’s on the short side.
The floor couldn’t be saved, so we built a plywood floor, painted it ochre, and covered it with an old rug that had been rolled up in a closet for the past twenty years. (I knew that rug would come in handy sometime!)
The colours really work with the golden hue of the logs.
These bunk beds once belonged to my little daughters. On the bottom bunk is a Hudson’s Bay Company blanket that I bought at a local garage sale for five dollars. Since my forefathers were Scottish immigrants who worked for The Bay, it’s a nod to my own heritage.
This papoose carrier was something I purchased at a local second-hand shop. The owner told me it came from the Northwest Territories.
We owned two pairs of old snowshoes from my husband’s sojourn in the Yukon when he was a young man.
There’s even a story behind this window. Since the glass in the old log cabin was broken, local pioneer Ray Crook, now 101 years old, gave me this window to use instead. His family owned Crook’s Cabins in Kootenay National Park, and it came from one of the original cabins. (Ray worked at a local prison camp for conscientious objectors in the Second World War. To read about his experiences, click here: The Guys Who Wouldn’t Go.)
The steamer trunk was brought over from Scotland by my great-grandfather. The wooden bench came from a lawyer’s office in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, where my mother worked as a legal secretary. The goatskin (which I refuse to have in the house, although I think it looks appropriate in the log cabin) was from a mountain goat killed by my youthful husband when he used to hunt.
In the corner cabinet is my small collection of royal memorabilia and copper pots.
Kids always get a kick out of playing with this miniature wood stove which I found years ago in Mexico. Apparently it actually works, although we have never tried lighting a fire in it.
I have so many books in the main house that I was happy to move some of my Western-themed collection out to the cabin.
This view shows the front window. Underneath is an an old wood stove, salvaged from a nearby farmhouse that was being torn down. In order to use the stove, we would have to run a stovepipe up to the ceiling and cut a hole in the roof. If we did, the cabin would be winterized.
These tiny cowboy boots were worn by one of our little daughters when she was two years old.
“The Rattler” is the name of this bronze sculpture, a gift from my dear departed Dad. The cowboy is aiming over his shoulder at a rattlesnake.
I have a weakness for old coffee pots, but so far I’m holding the line at three.
I’m not sure where these came from, but my mother wore these beaded moccasins around the house for years.
Our youngest daughter Melinda caught this jackfish in Turtle Lake, Saskatchewan when she was just nine years old.
My Dad burned this little poem into a chunk of leather and gave it to me many years ago. It’s one of my most cherished possessions.
This dreamcatcher, or perhaps it is a mandala, was made by an artist in Kimberley, B.C. and given to me by my friend Eileen Fiell, along with the moose antler on the front deck.
Eileen thought the antler went with my cabin. I think it adds a certain panache!
Two of our kids found this longhorn skull on a riverbank in Mexico. When we told them they couldn’t keep it, they cried so hard that we ended up smuggling it home.
I’ll conclude my cabin tour with this quote:
“Our objects, bibelots, whatnots, and knickknacks say the most about who we are. They are as honest as a diary.” — Charlotte Moss
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FROM MY MAILBOX
After reading my blog post titled My Lifelong Quest For Curly Hair, newsletter subscriber and fellow vintage enthusiast Lee Anning of Creemore, Ontario, sent me a bundle of “hair clippings,” all fascinating advertisements for hair products of the past. Thanks so much, Lee!
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WHAT I’M READING NOW
I’m immersed in pioneer history. Having just re-read Guy Vanderhaeghe’s wonderful book, The Englishman’s Boy, which won Canada’s top literary prize, the Governor-General’s medal, when it was published in 1996, I’m now reading another of his novels which I’m enjoying even more than the first.
The Last Crossing describes the journey through Western Canada of two brothers, sent out from England to find the third brother, who has gone missing. The author has been described as “the master of the metaphor” and every page is a delight to read. (Just in case you think the Canadian West was a romantic place before 1900, this author dispels the myth — it was also home to many murderers and deadbeats escaping from the Old World.)
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TONY CASHMAN!
My old friend Tony Cashman of Edmonton, Alberta turned 97 years old on April 29, 2020. When I called him to wish him Happy Birthday, he jokingly said his birthday theme song was “The Wreck of the Old Ninety-Seven.”
Tony was the navigator in a Halifax bomber and completed a full tour of thirty trips. He then went on to become a celebrated author, journalist, and historian. And although his eyesight is failing, he still types letters on this very same typewriter by touch alone! Read about his wartime experiences here: Life as a Halifax Navigator.
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VETERAN WALKS FOR FOOD BANK
Royal Canadian Air Force veteran Jim Ashworth, who lives right here in Invermere, British Columbia, is 101 years old AND he plans to walk 101 blocks to raise money for the local food bank!
He hopes to walk four blocks every day until his goal is completed. Please show your support by donating online here: Columbia Valley Food Bank.
I wrote about Jim’s exploits flying a Hurricane over Burma in the Second World War on my website earlier, and you may read his story here: Boat-Busting in Burma.
Both Tony Cashman and Jim Ashworth are truly members of The Greatest Generation.
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HAPPY VICTORIA DAY!
Here in Canada we celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday each year on the Monday before her birthday. It’s a statutory holiday and for most Canadians, this long weekend (often called “The May Long”) kicks off our short summer season.
Born on May 24, 1819, Queen Victoria reigned over the British Empire for 63 years, seven months and two days.
She was the longest-reigning monarch in British history, until her record was broken by her great-great-granddaughter, our current Queen Elizabeth, on September 9, 2015. (I suppose it’s too much to hope that we might get another statutory holiday called Elizabeth Day!)
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Friends, I chose the title for this newsletter because I expect that by now you experiencing some of the symptoms of cabin fever. Aside from wishing every day that the weather here would just WARM UP, my husband and I are still enjoying the down time. For exercise, we have been splitting (him) and stacking (me) a mountain of firewood, so if we aren’t able to travel next winter, we’ll be warm and cozy at home in front of the fireplace.
Until June . . . yours in peace and harmony, Elinor