Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pick up Sticks

I  used to pass them by on my way to impressive places like Crysler Hall and Cook's Tavern at Upper Canada Village, hastening to connect with domestic interiors and costumed interpreters. But thanks to Shannon Kyles' Ontario Architecture course, I have grown to love log buildings. And not before time, I think. I have just finished researching PEC examples for Orland French's upcoming book 'Wind, Water, Barley and Wine', and this very morning am writing (or am supposed to be writing) about an outstanding Mel Shakespeare rebuild in Hastings County, for 'Country Roads' magazine.

But although I still have to check my notes before pronouncing on Swedish keying or colombage, I confess to a completely physical love affair with log buildings. A feast for the senses they are, soft weathered grey, radiating the warmth of the sun on their smooth flanks, their voice the midnight snap of frost or the creak of wood on wood as doors open and feet tread their glossy plank floors.

So far in their past is life as living breathing beings in the vast forests which are part of our collective settlers' memory. So inaccessible is the desperate UEL experience of felling these giants and forcing them to our will as simple shelters. Now we love them with a Walden Pond sort of nostalgia, or a craftsman's appreciation of the artistry of their construction. Hard for us now to remember how quickly the UEL settlers wanted to move on, to recreate the fine Georgian frame or stone houses they left in that other country before 1784.

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