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Log Housing: Revival Of A Nearly Lost Art

Peter Cote

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FEBRUARY/MARCH 1980      v10 n2-3 p11  
October 15, 1979 marked the start of an eight week CMITP contract for Log Housing Construction on the Waterhen Lake Indian reserve. A total of 17 trainees from the Meadow Lake District's and 10 Indian Bands participated in the initiative.

Waterhen Lake Indian Reserve is located approximately 80 kilometers north of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. Some of the finest spruce timber in the province is found on the Reserve, making spruce trees is the largest natural resource of economic significance to the Reserve.

Initially, Chief Sid Fiddler from the Waterhen Lake Band expressed concern to the Meadow Lake District Chiefs, regarding the crucial housing needs and the limited amount of capital monies allocated to the District Bands. Meadow Lake Pre-Fabricated, which had provided pre-fabricated housing to the ten Indian reserves, would inevitably close down and the Bands would have to come up with an alternative.

With log housing construction considered cheaper and superior to frame construction, a course was designed to develop the necessary lost skills for building log homes and to regain a lost art of the Indian people. On behalf of the Meadow Lake District Chiefs, Chief Sid Fiddler submitted a Log House building construction proposal under CMITP, to the Meadow Lake CEC.

Because of the nature of the proposal, two instructors Mr. Jim Durham and Mr. Tom Heintzman, were hired through the B. Allen Mackie School of Log Building and Environmental Centre, from Prince George, B.C. These instructors have years of experience in log house construction and both possess formal carpentry qualifications.

Chiefs involved in spear-heading the CMITP contract represent the following reserves: Chief Sid Fiddler, Waterhen; Chief Ray Mitsuing, Loon Lake; Chief Ernest Sundown, Joseph Bighead; Chief Peter Crookedneck, Island Lake; Chief Leon Cataract, Tumor Lake; Chief Jerry Noultcho, Dillon (Buffalo River); Chief Frank Iron, Canoe Lake; and Chief J.B. Sandypoint, Patuanak.


Log Housing trainees and instructor
Back row, left to right: Lloyd Lasas, Leonard Vincent, Martin Fiddler, Butch Iron, Charles Whitehead, Thomas Bear. Centre row, left to right: Joseph Whitehead, Tommy Fiddler, Micheal Martell, Roderique Martell. Front row, left to right: Instructor Jim Durham, Gordon Fiddler, Alex LaRocque, Percy Alexander, Joseph LaRoque, Clarence Derocher, and instructor Tom Heintzman.

-photo by Meadow Lake Progress