West Coast cabin – Clayoquot Sound, B.C.

Clayoquot Sound, BC

The cabin is probably the true vernacular architecture of British Columbia’s West Coast and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver must once have had some of these buildings, thought rampant demolition and ugly development are doing their best to eradicate any trace of this architectural past. All that’s left of the cabin is the practice of attaching big cedar decks onto the imported Victorian and Edwardian and Britishy styles that sadly crowd the housing stock where I live.

Meanwhile there’s little to no building code on islands like this one in Clayoquot Sound, near Tofino. Unlike in Vancouver, with its ridiculously restrictive code and its colonial fixation on transplanted European architecture, when you’re out on the remoter parts of the coast you can do what you want. This is why so many of our best architects prefer building cabins to city houses, and we stay bereft of their influence in the city.

These photos are from a remote West Coast island where my aunt and uncle built a small, simple octagonal cabin on log posts that sit on the granite bedrock without even a concrete footing to alter the landscape. (I can only include a few details out of respect for privacy.)

Over the Labour Day weekend we sat on the deck and watched a pod of orcas hunt and jump offshore, smacking their tails on the water.

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Clayoquot Sound, BC

The smooth round rocks are pretty but they serve a purpose: they’re the “laundry rocks,” keeping handwashed clothes from blowing off the deck while they dry.

Clayoquot Sound, BC - kelp in clear water

Clayoquot Sound cabin skylight

Ceiling and tiny skylight in the small sleeping cabin next to the main cabin – my woodworking uncle’s own design and handiwork. He’s a genius. Below, the tiny island deer are pretty tame and sneaky. No dogs or cats are allowed on the island, to protect wildlife.

Clayoquot Sound, deer

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Clayoquot Sound

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Raven on deck. Also saw: kingfishers, kinglets, warblers, sandpipers, little red crossbills, bald eagles, harbour seals, harbour porpoises, orcas and grey whales.

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