The oldest recorded log home in Ontario dates back to 1816 and points to the “Red House in Perth.” The early settlers built hundreds of wood cabins in the Rideau area. However, few of them have survived to this day. The building materials of their time did not allow for long-term preservation, but the present-day ones do.
In this article, we take a closer look at the history of log and wood homes in Ontario and how log restoration takes place in Central Canada. The history of chinking in Ontario is rich in precious lessons passed down through generations. Today´s wood cabin builders use them to assemble solid log structures able to resist the weather challenges of the Great Lakes area.
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The History of Log and Wood Homes In Ontario
In the early 19th-century, Ontarians would use logs to build everything from houses to schools, shops, barns, and boats. Above all, it was a cheap building material. Very few constructors of that time would attempt building stone houses, for example. Therefore, walking through the Rideau area in the 1800s, you would see plenty of log homes and cabins.
Unfortunately, despite the sheer number of wood houses rising on the Ontario plains two centuries ago, few have survived in their original, unsurfaced form. Some of them have gone through several restoration works. Meanwhile, others have been repurposed as garages, barns, and other farm buildings.
The few surviving log homes in Ontario are simple buildings with a rectangular shape and an end-gabled roof. Most of them have one story or one-half story, with the latter serving as an attic. The interior is also modest. For instance, most have just one or two rooms and a narrow ladder leading to the top floor.
The History of Chinking In Ontario
The interesting aspect of the early log cabins in Ontario is that they didn’t have basements. However, they rested on log sills. The logs were mostly squared and secured against strong winds with dovetailed keying.
These wood homes required periodic chinking to enhance joint protection against weather damage. The traditional Ontario chinking was a mortar mix of clay, horsehair, and wood chips. Also, it varied in width from one log cabin to another.
The roof of a log home would consist of wood shingles. In some cases, the roof would have hollow tree trunks placed at right angles to the roof ridge. In time, technological advancements enabled homeowners to replace the shingles with metal or asphalt frames.
Nowadays, chinking is a flexible, cement-like material that helps cover the gaps between the logs of Ontario log homes. Furthermore, it helps prevent air, rain, snow, and insects from coming inside. Due to its synthetic combination of acrylic or petrochemical elastic compounds, modern chinking lasts longer than traditional chinking mortar.
The History of Log Restoration in Ontario
When looking at the early log cabins in Ontario, you cannot help but admire the ingenuity of the builders. They had to keep their wooden homes perfectly sealed. As a result, the harsh weather conditions specific to Central Canada and the Great Lakes area would not affect them.
Ontario’s climate is under the influence of the cold, dry, arctic air coming from the north. Firstly, this cold air front collides with the Pacific polar air from the western Canadian Prairies. Secondly, it combines with the warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, so the precipitation level increases. As a result, Ontario has humid weather throughout winter and severe storms during the short, but mucky summer.
The wood cabins built in the 19th and 20th centuries had a single untrimmed stone fireplace. It was located in a gable wall that provided heating. Only a few of them had large, stone chimneys. However, the owners replaced them with stone stoves in time.
Contrary to other construction types, log cabins could not rely too much on windows for energy efficiency. Most wood homes had double-hung windows or small-panned sashes. But, these wood coverings did not provide a great deal of insulation in the cold season.
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Most of the wood houses in Ontario, old and new, require chinking. The only exception is the Scandinavian Chinkless wood cabin, which has air-tight notches ensuring perfect insulation.
Log cabins homeowners can choose between classic mortar chinking or modern synthetic chinking. Both materials increase insulation for the wood home, which is crucial during the cold Canadian winters.
When faced with numerous days of precipitations throughout the year, log homes require proper, resistant chinking. Some nostalgic wood cabin owners would prefer classic mortar for the chinking to maintain the home´s authenticity. However, this practice would require more often restoration work, and most likely, it would be more expensive every time.
Modern synthetic chinking may be pricier than mortar chinking. On the other hand, it has better elastic properties. Therefore, it enables the logs to expand and contract without affecting the insulation of the log home.
Many log home owners prefer applying stain or finish over the chinking. For instance, this treatment enhances the weather protection and appearance of their wood cabins. Popular stain brands like Sikkens help preserve the wood for many years against heavy precipitation and insects.
Why Restore an Ontario Log Home?
If you have a log home or a wood cabin in Ontario that needs chinking or staining, you should commence restoration work right away.
A wood home in Ontario, no matter how small, can bring you immense benefits. Firstly, you have a place to retreat from the buzzing crowds of the city and unwind. Secondly, you can transform it into a rewarding source of passive income.
Ontario is home to four of the five Great Lakes and part of the St. Lawrence River. That is to say, it has the longest freshwater coastline in the world. As a result, it is a popular destination for tourists, hunters, and fishing enthusiasts.
You can include your log home into the ever-increasing offer of lake cabins and cottages serving visitors from all over the world. Depending on the position of your wood cabin, you can transform it into one of the many hunting or fishing lodges for rental.
If you are looking to restore a log home in Central Canada, you can always count on the experience of the Ontario log home builders. With an affordable investment in Ontario log home supplies, patience, and dedication, you can transform an old wood cabin into a stunning and long-lasting log home.