Hard to beat this Haliburton retreat
The Bear Stand, which took five years to design and build, sits on nearly 100 acres of woodland
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.