Great Gray Owl History
FIRST 3 YEARS
Logging & Conception
The first year was spent doing bureaucratic work, and putting together the blueprint. Acquiring a logging permit was one of the tougher bureaucratic chores for the Great Gray Owl. Because of our location in Atikaki Provincial Park, it was tough convincing the government to allow us to log. In the end, we were given a permit to cut down green trees for the strong beams, rafters, and joists that make the Great Gray Owl so solid. Our logging crew spent the next few seasons in the forest (mostly around Moosehead Bay) cutting, debranching, and peeling majestic White Spruce and Jack Pine trees. Those were to be the walls of the cabin. For our 2×4′s and other boards, we used fire-killed trees. These trees, many of which are still standing, were killed in the 1980 forest fire that ravaged our area. However, the wood has been maintained and makes gorgeous boards. What separates these boards from normal ones are the markings and insect holes. The colorful designs have created a very unique feel for our cabin.
Clearing the Area
It took two full summers to log the bulk of the necessary wood to construct the Great Gray Owl. However, clearing the site where GGO now stands was relatively easy (pictured above). First, the thin trees were uprooted using a hand winch and a little elbow grease. This enabled us to clear the layer of topsoil without any hassle. We avoided leaving any stumps which could hamper the construction. Next, a basement was dug. The basement houses the compost bins for the composting toilets.
Building the floor was a big job, but one that went rather smoothly. It took only a few weeks to pour cement foundations, construct beams from 2×8″ boards, cut and plane the floor boards, lay them down, and finally sand it all. The sheer size of the overall floor should be easily grasped by looking at the picture on the right!
The logs were quickly put together on the other side of the lake, but this time using spikes and nails! This pretty much concluded the first year of construction (fourth overall). We were very proud of our accomplishments at this time. We finally had something to show for those three long years of preparing natural materials, getting permits, and completely designing the layout. The dream was becoming a reality!
In the second season of construction (fifth overall), we began by adding a second floor to the structure. We started as soon as we got to the lodge. The early season construction started off by adding the second floor and roof.
The longest log in the Great Gray Owl measures 56’6″. This is the one that everybody is struggling to place on the supports (above left). A second beam had to be used to cover the whole length of the Great Gray Owl. Thousands upon thousands of board feet were used to cover the roof. Two layers of insulation were added before the tin roof was finally placed.
COMPLETED FRAME STRUCTURE
Construction of the structure was completed in mid-summer 1995. However, there was still a lot of work to do. The inside had to be finished, the electrical system had to be installed, and a water system had to be installed as well… In fact, these were some of the only materials flown in. We were constantly hauling couches, chairs, mattresses, wiring, and batteries to help complete the 5-year project.
Solar panels were installed on the top of the hill behind the Great Gray Owl. The baseball-infield sized rock provides the perfect wide open area for the solar panels. Our furnace is placed in the “Little Hooter”, which is connected to the main structure. We also added a second Hooter in 1999 to house the backup generator and batteries. Our first guests arrived at GGO in late summer of 1995 (it was 95% complete at the time). Our gracious guests were honored to cut the ribbon and officially commence the future of outpost camps everywhere…
TOTAL BOARD FEET
In all, over 35,000 board feet (12″x12″x1″) of fire-killed logs were used in the construction of the Great Gray Owl. Another 25,000 board feet of green logs were used in the construction. The Great Gray Owl Wilderness Adventure Camp is truly one of the great log cabins in Canada.
UNIQUE AND AMAZING
Come experience the most unique experience in the Canadian North! The versatility of the packages ranges from outpost to housekeeping to American Plan to Platinum Plan. The Great Gray Owl is a truly wonderful destination. We are proud to have the pioneer in mini-lodges. It will be imitated, but never duplicated. If you have been there once, you are sure to come back!
Great Gray Owl:
It took 5 years of careful planning, logging, and construction to complete this bold and ambitious project. It was the original view of the owners to build this private mini-lodge on the opposite side of the lake. Because of the exclusivity clause on Aikens, it took time before the government allowed a second structure to be built on the lake.