Log Homes of Que­bec

Rem­i­nis­cent of pioneer days, these cozy dwellings em­anate warmth

More of Our Canada - - Content - by Perry Mas­tro­vito, Laval

Pho­tog­ra­pher Perry Mas­tro­vito of Laval shows us why, from pioneer times to mod­ern day, log homes have been a main­stay in Que­bec.

In Que­bec and through­out much of North Amer­ica, the first log homes erected in the 17th cen­tury by newly ar­rived set­tlers from Europe were often just small, sim­ple, rus­tic square log cab­ins. Built with hand tools such as saws, axes, chis­els and planes, these cab­ins pro­vided the new­com­ers with a ba­sic roof over their heads to stay warm, dry and safe. In many cases, these crudely built cab­ins were just tem­po­rary shel­ters or homes for use while the con­struc­tion of a more prac­ti­cal and larger square log ( pièce sur pièce) fam­ily dwelling was tak­ing place nearby. Af­ter­wards, these makeshift cab­ins often be­came barns for keep­ing live­stock.

In my book Log Homes of Que­bec, you’ll dis­cover sev­eral pièce sur pièce log homes from the 1800s, and more re­cently built round log homes of var­i­ous styles. While some homes are used as pri­mary res­i­dences, oth­ers are hol­i­day get­aways and week­end re­treats. Although most of the homes are lo­cated in bu­colic and se­cluded sur­round­ings in var­i­ous re­gions of Que­bec, a few are sit­u­ated on res­i­den­tial streets.

Many of the older pièce sur pièce log homes were re­con­structed from two or more orig­i­nal homes that were pur­chased in one re­gion, taken apart, then trans­ported to a new site to be re­assem­bled as one res­i­dence. In many in­stances, the new own­ers them­selves erected these old homes with help from fam­ily mem­bers and friends, or from skilled crafts­men.

For some own­ers in search of

au­then­tic­ity, the in­te­rior decor takes years to com­plete. In fact, I came across a cou­ple who searched for close to 30 years to find all the pe­riod ac­ces­sories and fur­nish­ings ( door­knobs, chan­de­liers, bed frames, ta­bles, chairs, earthen­ware, win­dows and even an­tique tele­phones) for their cherished 190-year-old home.

There are also some pièce sur pièce log homes from the 1970s and ’80s pro­duced from milled logs and ad­ver­tised in mag­a­zines as easy, build-it-your­self pre­fab­ri­cated kits. Ini­tially, these kits ap­pealed to those who were handy with wood-cut­ting tools or in­spired to live more har­mo­niously with Mother Na­ture. Some of these homes are built with so much at­ten­tion paid to the ar­chi­tec­tural de­tails, both on the in­side and out­side, that they are often mis­taken for an orig­i­nal pièce sur pièce log home.

Although these kits are still avail­able to­day, new de­signs

range from tiny cab­ins to full­size opulent homes that in­clude a dou­ble-car garage. The milling process is now state-of-theart, and the logs are uni­formly pro­duced in var­i­ous lengths, sizes and pro­files ( D- shaped, flat, square, rec­tan­gu­lar or round) to suit any taste, bud­get or floor plan.

Many of the more re­cently built round log homes are sump­tu­ously de­signed with large rooms, open floor con­cepts and panoramic win­dows. These are built us­ing the Scan­di­na­vian method. As the name sug­gests, this build­ing tech­nique has its roots in the Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries and is pop­u­lar the world over. One of the most vis­ually im­pres­sive char­ac­ter­is­tics at­trib­uted to this style is the ex­tended in­ter­lock­ing outer and in­ner sad­dle-notch wall corners and the size of the hand- stripped logs used, up to 122 cen­time­tres in di­am­e­ter and larger. Often equipped with the lat­est tech­nolo­gies in terms of com­fort, with coun­try- themed fur­nish­ings, the in­te­rior decor in these lux­u­ri­ous homes is the em­bod­i­ment of rus­tic chic.

A new trend of­fers a hy­brid­style log home that uses not only round logs but also tim­ber, posts and beams with a mix of con­ven­tional cladding ma­te­ri­als. Ver­ti­cal or hor­i­zon­tal brightly coloured wood and alu­minum sid­ing, brick and stone are har­mo­niously and es­thet­i­cally in­te­grated. This saves on main­te­nance and costs. There are two fine ex­am­ples of this fea­tured in my book. Fi­nally, there is one log home that, on the out­side, re­flects a def­i­nite me­dieval ar­chi­tec­tural in­flu­ence, putting it in a class all by it­self.

No mat­ter the style, shape or size, how­ever, for many peo­ple a log home re­mains the ul­ti­mate wish-list type of shel­ter to live in, or to have as a re­treat. A home made of logs tran­scends prim­i­tive cabin de­sign, but it is rem­i­nis­cent of the pioneer days and af­fords a way of liv­ing that’s un­like any other.

In ad­di­tion to a log home’s ap­peal­ing aes­thet­ics, it is hard to re­sist the al­lure and warmth em­a­nat­ing from wooden sur­faces and struc­tures, in­clud­ing the dis­tinc­tive aroma that each type of wood re­leases into the air. Wood grain, whether smooth or rough, in­vites one to touch it and feel rus­tic beauty in its purest form. The pres­ence of wooden floors, stairs, handrails, posts, beams and tim­bers—along with wooden fur­ni­ture— warms up the am­bi­ence in any type of res­i­dence, but it’s es­pe­cially no­table in a home built with logs. ■

Clock­wise from top: Cozy log home in a small town in the Mon­térégie; the late af­ter­noon light en­hances the sense of warmth this cabin con­veys; a wrought iron me­dieval-style chan­de­lier in a Mont-trem­blant home.

Left: a lux­u­ri­ous grand stair­case ex­tends to the up­per floor of this sump­tu­ous log home; above: a peace­ful im­age of a cabin re­flected on a calm lake at dusk.

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