Float Cabins on Powell Lake - Tiny House Blog

Float Cabins on Powell Lake

By Margy Lutz, Powell River, BC

Float cabins on Powell Lake in Coastal British Columbia come in many sizes and styles. Originally they were bunkhouses or working structures for logging camps, or inexpensive weekend fishing and hunting retreats for mill workers. The cedar log floats and cabin materials for these original cabins came from the surrounding forest. A few old timers still remain if you know where to look.

Old Cabin

One of the smallest cabins was owned by Jess, a neighbor of ours in Hole in the Wall. He always said, 8X10, just like a picture. He built his very small cabin in his back yard just after he was out of high school. As the story goes, his cabin became part of a Powell River festival parade as he transported it to Powell Lake. Rather than wait, he joined the procession, letting everyone see his pride and joy.

Jess's Small Cabin

Jess's Small Cabin

Before 2000, the float cabins on Powell Lake were not regulated. You could build one and place it in a location of your choice. Now the cabins and their water lots are registered with the Integrated Land Management Bureau of British Columbia. There is also a moratorium on the number of cabins, which now stands around 200. Because no new cabins can be added, you will find owners such as Jess replacing or remodeling their old cabins.

Jess's Remodel

Jess's Remodel

While there are a few large and spectacular cabins on the lake, most are modest weekend and summer getaways. The majority are of wood frame construction because weight on the float is a big concern. This style also allows for easy insulation, especially for cabins that will be used throughout the year. Metal roofs are popular, but you will still find some cedar shake shingles. Our cabin is a basic 20 X 21 cabin (see my previous posts “Our Little Cabin Up the Lake” and “Living on the Water” for more details). A peaked roof gives us just enough room for a sleeping loft. Most of the cabins are owner built, so you will find many of this style.

Peak Roof Style

Peak Roof Style

The barn style cabin is also popular. That’s because you get more space and headroom for a second story or loft. This is helpful because most cabins are set up to handle lots of family and friends. We don’t get much snow is our area, so a steep roof isn’t necessary. One thing that is necessary is a covered porch. We call ourselves the Sunshine Coast, but our other name is the Raincoast.

Barn Loft

Barn Loft

This barn style cabin is one of the rentals available on Powell Lake. You can get more information at www.floatcabins.com. Information about houseboat and cabin rentals is also available at www.lakesidefloatingvacations.com. It can be a very economical way to have a vacation and get a taste of float cabin living.

Barn Style Cabin

Barn Style Cabin

West coast style cabins have lots of windows for light and lake views. All cabins are off the grid, so natural lighting in all rooms is very helpful. This style also allows for high ceilings in great rooms and lofts with good headroom.

West Coast Style Cabin

West Coast Style Cabin

Thanks for coming up the lake with me. We have a unique lifestyle and community. It’s a bit history, a bit back to the land (so to speak) and very relaxing. You can find more information about float cabin and off the grid living at http://PowellRiverBooks.blogspot.com. For information about my husband Wayne’s Coastal BC Stories, come to www.PowellRiverBooks.com. Up the Lake and Farther Up the Lake have lots of information about our cabin life on Powell Lake.

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Christina Nellemann - December 4, 2008 Reply

Thanks Margy for the information and pictures. It seems to be a whole culture up on your lake. Very interesting.

Home Design - December 4, 2008 Reply

I liked the pictures very much.

Thanks for posting.

Denise - December 4, 2008 Reply

Someday….I’m going to get there. The views are stunning.

links for 2008-12-04 | jordoncooper.com - December 4, 2008 Reply

[…] Float Cabins on Powell Lake (tags: design Canada architecture) […]

Margy - December 6, 2008 Reply

Thank you to everyone for the visit and comments. If there are any questions, I would be glad to answer them. — Margy

Vacation Rental Owner - December 15, 2008 Reply

The views here really are stunning and staying in a float cabin is a very different experience from anything else. The serenity of the lake will re-energize you and the natural beauty will make you never want to leave. I love this place – I can’t wait to get back!

John Hunter - March 8, 2009 Reply

Hi Margy……I enjoyed your article on here…i am looking for a place on Powell Lake..floating or land!!!.

I grew up in Powell River and often went “up the lake” in friends cabins…our family first came to Powell river in 1920…in fact…my grandfather had the first house with electricity in Westview!!!

i wold appreciate any info you may have..

thanks……John Hunter….

cameron Lloyd - March 16, 2009 Reply

The lake is the best!!! We have spent 2 years on are rebuild.
We have watched Jess’s progress in hole in the wall. Good for you,all the best in 2009.


Margy - April 2, 2009 Reply

Thanks Cameron – stop by on your way up the lake and say hi. If I am thinking of the correct cabin, you are the farthest up the lake. I know you enjoy your place as much as we enjoy ours. Yes, Jess has been very busy with his cabin remodeling. He may lose the record for tiny float cabin, but I am sure he is going to enjoy all the new space and the sleeping loft.

For John and anyone else interested in purchasing a cabin up the lake – Float cabins are now considered part of the real estate market. Some even make it to the multiple listings like this one http://www.powellriverrealestate.com/detailed.php?view=7123. Of course, many are sold via the local newspaper, the Powell River Peak http://www.prpeak.com. Hope this is helpful.


phil doucet - October 21, 2009 Reply

just wondering about laws? we live in a houseboat in okanagan and will be getting kicked out soon, this is our home. we presently canoe to land and have no issues with continuing this. how houseboat/floathome friendly is powell lake? what is the weather like?

camper trailers sunshine coast - April 25, 2011 Reply

nice picture.the lake is the best

Tyler - April 17, 2012 Reply


I am also a big fan of Powell Lake. Unfortunately, I haven’t lived in Powell River for some time now, but would love to return and go up the lake for a long weekend.

If you or someone you know would be interested in renting their cabin out for 3 or 4 days please pass them my email address (trh_86@hotmail.com). I would be very interested.



Annie - May 27, 2012 Reply

Does anyone know of any lakes in the Pacific NW where houseboats are still unregulated? It’s my dream to be able to build a houseboat and just plop in down in a lake somewhere. I can’t believe BC allowed this up until 2000.

mary - May 11, 2013 Reply

i just want you you know how much you help me. i watch your video over and over. it gives me a peace and escape from my world. i loss my only child 2 years ago. she died from cancer at 25. my life is a painful day to day living. when i watch the video i am able to step out of my reality. i wish i could be there but it is not possible. to have your story helps me very much. i have a grandson that i am raising so there is no chance to leave home for 6 months because of his school. thank you for sharing. to dream of living in your float cabin is like a micro vacation,

jeff - November 9, 2014 Reply

the link to the rentals is an american site and is very hard to even figure out where the cabin rentals for powell river even are.

Theresa - February 25, 2017 Reply

I was wondering about renting a cabin up Powell lake and could use any info on this subject. Thank you! Theresa

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