Hard to beat this Hal­ibur­ton re­treat

The Bear Stand, which took five years to de­sign and build, sits on nearly 100 acres of wood­land

Toronto Star - - HOMEFINDER.CA - GE­ORGIE BINKS This in­ter­view has been edited and con­densed.

Ris­ing out of the Hal­ibur­ton High­lands, The Bear Stand — named for the area’s past hunt­ing legacy — is a spec­tac­u­lar re­treat.

Built for Sharon Leece and her hus­band, Joe Ma­grath, who grew up spend­ing sum­mers in the area, the 3,300-square-foot home sits on nearly 100 acres of wood­land. It has 1,300 feet of un­in­ter­rupted shore­line on Con­tau Lake, and Crown lands be­side and be­hind it.

The home’s lower level con­tains the liv­ing and din­ing spa­ces that look onto the lake and a rock face with ex­pan­sive win­dows. The fo­cal point of the main floor is a dou­ble-height gran­ite fire­place. There’s one guest suite on the lower level and an­other on the up­per level, where the mas­ter suite is lo­cated, along with a bunk room, and a den with a view of the lake and the sur­round­ing for­est.

The Bear Stand, three hours north­east of Toronto, is avail­able for rent and also fea­tures a pri­vate sauna, ofuro soak­ing tub and hot tub.

Build­ing ma­te­ri­als in­clude lo­cal blue gran­ite for the fire­place, cedar ex­te­rior sid­ing, Dou­glas fir glu­lam beams, wire­brushed wal­nut floor­ing, benches and bar tops re­claimed from a nearby farm. The Bear Stand took five years to de­sign and build and was com­pleted in 2016. Robert Miller, prin­ci­pal ar­chi­tect, and pro­ject man­ager Kyle Phillips, both with the Se- at­tle firm Bohlin Cy­win­ski Jack­son, an­swered a few ques­tions about The Bear Stand.

What was your in­spi­ra­tion for the de­sign?

Robert: We spent quite a bit of time with Sharon and Joe and their daugh­ter on the site, hear­ing sto­ries about them grow­ing up there and how the fam­i­lies used the lake. That was re­ally an in­spi­ra­tion be­ing on that site, try­ing to con­nect with the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

The fire­place is mas­sive and dra­matic — how did its de­sign evolve?

Kyle: The fire­place is a cen­tre­piece of the liv­ing space — it grows out of that camp­ing idea where ev­ery­one is gath­ered around the fire­place.

Robert: There’s a lot go­ing on there. It’s dou­ble-height, dou­ble-sided with a sky­light above, which brings light down to the base of the stonework. If you walk around the fire­place mass, you have a screened-in porch out­side with a fire­place there, as well as one on the sec­ond floor in the mas­ter bed­room.

What chal­lenges did you face?

Robert: There are se­ri­ous rock out­crop­pings; that’s one of the beau­ties of the area, but also one of the chal­lenges … We knew there would be rock there, but we didn’t know the qual­ity … They ended up hav­ing to blast out ad­di­tional rock just be­cause the rock had been frag­mented a bit.


The blue gran­ite dou­ble-height, dou­ble-sided fire­place, the cen­tre­piece of the liv­ing space un­der a sky­light, opens to the liv­ing area, the mas­ter bed­room and first-floor pa­tio.

The Ja­panese-style ofuro tub pro­vides a na­ture-in­fused el­e­ment of seren­ity. Right, the re­treat’s de­sign and ma­te­ri­als blend with its sur­round­ing nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

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