The Cottage at Backwards Bay

The story of The Land and The River

Thousands of years ago, near where the Ottawa River flows past Pembroke, a conflict arose between the River and the Land. The Land boldly said “you will not pass,” and the River replied “oh yeah?” The River and the land twisted and turned as they wrestled for control. The River split into many fast flowing channels and the land threw out islands spiked with boulders, pines and irony. Eventually they settled their differences, but the irony persisted so that today, the cottage sits on a Québec island looking east to Ontario while the waters of Backwards Bay flow upstream along its shore.

The cottage is part of this ironic context. It is not a house but rather a place where laughter and wilderness play. The cottage sits tall, nestled into a hillside amongst the pine and spruce. Its entry is through an outdoor living room that sits below a treehouse bedroom slung between the main cottage and a cluster of tree-like poles.

Inside, glassy walls and a high vaulted ceiling blur the line between indoors and out. Like the River, the stair twists and turns around a rustic shelving unit stocked with books, games and videos, essential to cottage life. The stair leads up to a bridge that crosses the space to the tree house bedroom. Below the stair connects to a secondary bedroom suite for visiting friends and family.

The electrical needs of the 1,360 sq. ft. off-grid cottage are served by a gang of photovoltaic solar collectors on the steep south roof. A propane generator provides a seldom-needed backup for extended periods of cloudy weather. The deer look after the lawn maintenance. 

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