This Scandinavian-style log cabin is in a league of its own — not just because of the spectacular size of the logs, but for the type of wood used and the way it was built.
Some of those logs, especially those adorning the front porch, are an amazing 122 centimetres in diameter with flared ends. In fact, all the logs used for the structure are of substantial size. Each piece was hand-peeled, hand-cut and assembled with utter precision, following the natural shape and size of the wood to ensure a perfect fit.
And while this log home may be traditional in design, calling it a cabin would be a stretch. Situated in the upper Laurentians near Mont-Tremblant National Park, the house has three levels and boasts five bedrooms, three bathrooms and an adjoining garage for a total of 1,840 square metres of ground space.
Having a basement is rare in this type of construction, and this is where four of the five bedrooms (which were unfinished when the photographer visited) are situated.
Everything is monumental in this luxurious home, from the logs to the wood-burning fireplace in the living room. A system of conduits and fans radiate the heat throughout the house. Set in the cathedral ceiling of the living-room, the fans can be operated by a small generator in case of a power failure. The house is also equipped with an electric furnace that is rarely used.
“In winter, we can leave the house for a week and, when we come back, it is still warm,” owner Cosmin Curechean says.
The stones around the fireplace are very old, some even showing fossil markings of prehistoric plants. The same stones border the counter in the kitchen, where the countertops are made of two thick slices of tree trunk for a unique, rustic look.
These unusual countertops were cut from the log standing on the right of the kitchen entrance, which shows a similar pattern at the base. The logs inside the house are stained and varnished, giving them a warm sheen. The varnish was applied to make cleaning easier. Outside, they are only stained so the wood can breathe. The dye used is water-based and ecological.
The builder, Log Homes Canada, is a family-owned, award-winning company based in British Columbia. So it is not surprising that the company used Western red cedar, which happens to be that province’s official tree. It is a tall, majestic breed that can grow as tall as 60 metres and live as long as 1,000 years.
The wood of this genus has many qualities. Cedar does not rot, which is the reason it is used for roof shingles, wharfs, pontoons and terraces, among other things. It doesn’t shrink as much as other wood species such as white pine, which is commonly used for building log homes in Quebec. And it retains heat efficiently, a real bonus in our climate. Finally, insects and other bugs are repulsed by the scent of the red cedar. The essential oil of the tree is actually used in insecticides, and cedar is often employed in walk-in closets and linen chests. These characteristics make it an ideal building material. But, of course, it has to come from what seems far away, on the other side of the continent.
For Log Homes Canada, however, Quebec is almost next door. “We ship all over the world,” service manager Shane Kutzer declares proudly. The company’s log homes can be found in Japan, Germany, Mexico, and even in Israel.
Customers can choose from a wide range of existing house and cabin models, or provide their own floor plans. The house is then assembled on the company’s building yard in the Fraser Valley. The whole process can take as long as two or three months, depending on the size of the home.
Once the structure is complete, it is dismantled, packed up and shipped — usually by truck in Canada — to the customer’s site. It then takes one to four days for the company’s workers to put up the structure.
It might seem like a complicated and expensive process, Curechean says, but it is not. Because the material comes from another province, he explains, Quebec customers pay the federal GST but no provincial tax, which represents substantial savings. Another factor is the low cost of heating thanks to the superior insulating property of Western red cedar logs. Curechean adds that the price — which includes custom design, shipping and installation — is quite competitive.
Log Homes Canada provides the shell of the house, which is the roof, walls and stairs. The customer is in charge of everything else, including plumbing, wiring and floor coverings. In this home, larch from Abitibi was used for the floors. This wood is tough, waterproof and durable.
A detail of the ceiling shows the craftsmanship of the builders. With such a sturdy frame, this cabin could last for many generations. The stairs lead to a mezzanine lit by a window overlooking the Laurentian forest. It is a favourite spot for the family to read and relax. A door on the left gives access to a bedroom and playroom located over the garage.
In the main bathroom, a combination of larch wood and ceramic tiles was used for the sides of the bathtub and the floor. The copper sinks with traditional hand-painted colourful motifs were imported from Mexico. The tiles of the backsplash were chosen with care to almost match the grain of the wood.
When Curechean decided to build a log home in 2011, he did extensive research online and in magazines, learning a lot about the industry in the process.
When he finally selected Log Homes Canada, his house was the first to be built in Quebec by the B.C. company. Curechean was so impressed by the result that he joined the team, becoming their representative in the province. His log home is now a model home for prospective clients to visit.