Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Northern vision

A remote retreat brings all-season luxury to Long Lake

For many people building a cottage in Ontario, minimizing the dreaded cottage commute is a big deal. After all, who wants to spend more time than necessary on a cramped highway every weekend? But for intrepid souls who crave nature, heading farther north is worth the extra mileage. Stephen and Eva Taylor, who recently built their dream cottage with Beaver Homes & Cottages in a remote area outside of Sudbury, Ont., fall into the latter camp, and they love the land so much that they decided to make their new build an all-seasons retreat.

For the nature-loving couple, the northern landscape and its wildlife were a big part of the draw. Particularly in the early spring, it’s common to see moose trot through the roadside brush along Highway 69, while black bears poke their heads above the jagged granite walls that line the blacktop. “It’s true wilderness,” says Stephen. “It’s got the pine and the granite and the birch trees and all the wildlife that’s characteristic of Northern Ontario.”

The water and its wild surroundings provide plenty of opportunities for embracing the outdoors, and the Taylors and their five children and eight grandchildren routinely partake in standup paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, or fishing for bass off the end of the dock. “Between the canoes and the kayaks, we spend a lot of time on the water,” Eva says.

While the “hidden jewel” of Long Lake might feel remote, the Taylors also love being a short drive from Sudbury’s restaurants, street festivals, and farmer’s markets. “We’re about 15 minutes from a pretty major city,” Stephen says. “So even though you’re away from it all, you’ve got all the amenities of being back in civilization.

During the day, the couple’s towering windows might overlook a spectacular lake lined by conifers and rugged granite, but for Eva in particular, it’s after sunset that the remote region’s true beauty emerges. “The night sky is amazing up here. One of my favourite things to do is go out on the lake at night and float on my back and look up at the Milky Way. When you see that enormous wave of stars over your head, it’s really quite something.”

But a love of nature wasn’t the only reason the couple chose Long Lake. They both had a history that they wanted to preserve, not just for themselves, but for their family. “We brought our children here as babies,” Eva says. “And now they’re bringing their children here as babies, and we’re getting to enjoy the whole process all over again.”

“The property here has been in our family for about 65 years now,” Stephen says. “My dad bought it in the mid-1950s. At that time, the original camp that was on the site had no electricity, no running water, and literally had a wood-burning stove and an icebox where they delivered blocks of ice to keep things cool.” Add to those amenities kerosene lamps for lighting and, of course, a trusty outhouse in lieu of indoor plumbing, and you’ve got the quintessential cottage experience that many Canadians grew up with. But after Stephen inherited the rustic “camp” in 2013, he and Eva envisioned a way of honouring it while creating something fresh that they could enjoy well into the future. “The plan was to demolish it and rebuild to do something that suited the property,” he explains.

To bring their vision to life, they needed to enlist the right team. At the Spring Cottage Life Show, they met Jeremie Sally, the Beaver Homes & Cottages Design Consultant at Evan’s Home Building Centre in Sudbury. After a glance through the Beaver Homes & Cottages Design Book and a deeper dive into the models on their website, Stephen and Eva knew they’d found their team. Taking the Ashland model as a starting point, they were able to play around with its design features, bringing them closer to what they had in mind for the property. “The really nice thing about the design book is that they can pick features from different models,” Jeremie says. “Then we can pull all of those elements together and come up with a customized design for them.”

Aside from helping people choose the design features that suit their property, Jeremie also assists with the project’s various contractors and ensures they have the right supplies. “When I first met Stephen and Eva, they had a good sense of what they wanted from their cottage, but they weren’t familiar with the local builders and contractors,” Jeremie says. “Our philosophy at Beaver Homes & Cottages is to provide quality skilled help for our clients. We have builders that we work with day to day on multiple projects, so our clients can be confident that whomever we suggest is going to be a quality builder.”

After some calls, Jeremie suggested Sudbury-based contractor Kevin Radey. Of course, since the Taylors lived 400 kilometres south in Oakville, Ont., they could only visit the site every couple of weeks. That meant Kevin and Jeremie first needed to build trust.

“Trust is the most important thing when it comes to building a house for someone,” Kevin explains. Fortunately, that trust came quickly. “It was a great collaboration between Jeremie, who handled the design and the supply of the materials, and our builder, Kevin, who was responsible for the construction,” Stephen says. “Those two fellows worked hand in glove and did a great job of executing the project.”

With Jeremie’s and Kevin’s help, the Taylors laid out their hopes for the property. Part of that vision included a new cottage that would be fully winterized—and big enough to comfortably host their large family. A walk through the spacious interior reveals not only a keen eye for detail, but an understanding of how the cottage should function. The open-concept kitchen area serves as a hub for family and guests, and both the kitchen and the loft space above it offer stunning views of the lake through a wall composed almost entirely of windows. The kitchen flows into a seating area whose focal point is a stately, stoned-in fireplace, which warms both the main area and the four-seasons sunroom on the other side. Other details, like an ICF foundation, heated floors in the bathroom, body jets in the shower, and split-system heat pumps for heating and cooling, give the cottage both luxury and convenience. And above it all is perhaps the most awe-inducing feature: an expansive peaked ceiling of pine boards. Carefully placed lights embellish the wood’s natural warmth, while a 38-foot structural beam of BC Douglas fir completes the cathedral-like appearance.

So did the final product remain true to the Taylors’ original vision? “Eva and I had a clear idea of what we wanted—the warmth that we wanted to create through the use of natural materials—and the guys did a great job of executing that,” Stephen says. “And Kevin and Jeremie were really helpful in finding ways things could be improved or simplified. Sometimes it was cost savings; other times it was just about creating a better finished product.”

Perhaps most telling is that, while the gorgeous view of the lake is a focal point from within the cottage, the view of the cottage from the water is every bit as striking. “If you go out on the lake at night in a canoe, or even if you’re swimming and look in it, the whole camp just glows,” Eva says. “It’s really lovely.”



















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