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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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