Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Log Story, continued

McDougal House, Glengarry County, 1825, UCV
This summer I have fallen in love with log. Those little brown boxes, so often rebuilt as local centennial projects, never called to me in the same way as a brick or stone home from the 1830's to 1890's. Now I appreciate that my feelings echoed somewhat those of the log dwellings' builders, UEL's who were forced by circumstance to use the ubiquitous native timber for their first rustic shelters. In their minds was always the dream of a better home, a fine structure of brick or stone, a dream realized in many cases only by the generation which followed.
Louck's log barn, UCV
Folks turned their backs on the humble sheltering log dwelling as soon as prosperity allowed. Most were repurposed as sheds for livestock and farm storage.

Of course, this log thing started with Shannon Kyle's Ontario Architecture course through Mohawk College. As I learned about colombage and Swedish keying I acquired a visual vocabulary which I now use to appreciate details, to augment my initial emotional response to a building. (I remember a years-ago language development course, and the critical role of labelling in early language learning.)
'Glengarry School Days' Schoolhouse, UCV

McDiarmid House, 1864, from Stormont County, UCV
Log buildings are so tactile too. I appreciate the weathered texture of old log buildings through an appreciative Braille of dovetailed corners and weathered woodgrain, adze marks on rough hand-hewn square logs warmed by summer sun.

I am still unpacking from a visit to Upper Canada Village earlier this summer. It is old house heaven for me, and for the rescued homes moved to the site and recreated with stories depicting life in the 1860's
(I'm having lots of fun with Peter John Stokes' sometimes acerbic reminiscences of the project in his 2012 book A Village Arising). More, much more, later.

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