Log Houses: Classics of the North. Rev. ed.


118 pages
ISBN 1-55046-389-6
DDC 728'.37'0971




Photos by Peter Christopher
Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



Flawless photography (112 glowing colour shots) turns this book into a
spectacular art gallery for “loggie” fans. Interiors, exteriors,
construction details, unusual feature, close-ups, and overviews work
together to immerse the reader in the world of “big wood”
architecture. Peter Christopher uses his camera to convey the experience
of log home living—the textures, colour, warmth, stability, and
tranquility that flow from being surrounded by natural materials.

Richard Skinulis’s accompanying text is equally bright and cheerful,
giving quite a lot of information without overdoing the details. It’s
more coffee-table book than construction manual.

The book’s scope is limited to handcrafted log construction, which
eliminates the many manufactured log house kits now becoming popular.
History and traditional workmanship are the criteria for inclusion.

The five types of log construction are explained, illustrated, and
discussed. These include the square-hewn log style with dovetail joints
(traditional in Ontario), and the long-log style with notched or saddle
joints (associated with the Western provinces and Scandinavia). These
two are the most popular and the most impressive. Less space is given to
stackwall, piece-on-piece, and vertical-wall styles.

The text covers the advantages and drawbacks of each of the five
building methods while the photos add powerful, hardworking visuals.

The scope of the work is, apparently, Canada-wide. Some homes have
mountains as backdrops (British Columbia?, Alberta?), there are a few
references to Ontario, and there is a chapter on the unique log cottages
at Lac Echo in Quebec. Apart from that, location is a mystery. The
decision to leave the location of most of the homes vague gives a sense
that the volume is not being fully upfront academically, and tends to
detract from the reader’s respect for the book. We really want to know
if these are Canadian homes we’re examining, or if there have been
junkets over the border.

Apart from that twinge, it’s a welcome window into our (?)
architectural history.


Skinulis, Richard., “Log Houses: Classics of the North. Rev. ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17555.