Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for the 'Cottage' Category

Nighttime in Paradise

If you’ve known me for at least a few months, or have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably caught on that I’m a pretty big fan of my cottage.  I’ve always thought of it as a magical place, and that stems from a very early age.

When I was a wee lad growing up in the suburbs of Toronto, I firmly believed that God lived at my cottage and He came to the city when we were there visiting.  I mean, where else would God live?  After all, isn’t He a big fan of creation, and where else can you see creation in all its splendor than up there?

Click on photos to see larger versions in a new window 

Tin Roof in a Full Moon

Since I started taking photographs, the cottage has been one of my favourite subjects.  It’s just so different than the things I see everyday.  The old, worn wood of the house and shed, the weathered rock of the Canadian Shield that makes up our front ‘lawn’ and the trees and wildlife are completely foreign to my usual Toronto environment.

Full Moon through Maple and Pine trees

Not to mention the trees and the sky.  On a moonless night, you can see more stars than you could ever count, and when the moon is up and full, you can sit outside and read by the light it throws below.  The way the dusk sunlight dances through tree branches, the sound of the night breeze in the leaves and the hypnotizing way that poplar branches switch from light to dark in the wind as they flip their leaves top and bottom.

Aylmer Road and Hwy. 148 in Fog

It’s safe to say that my favourite time at the cottage is the night.  During the summer, chirping frogs lull you to sleep in between light rainstorms on the tin roof.  Deer and raccoons wander through the forest while bats fly noiselessly through the air over your head.  In the fall, you can see the sky for miles through the leafless trees and more animals are out and about in search of food.  During the winter, the night is absolutely noiseless save for the sound of snow crunching under its own weight.

Now that I’m confident the house won’t collapse, I can safely look forward to a long life enjoying those sights and sounds, sharing them with the people I care about, and trying to capture them as best I can on film.  I just hope God doesn’t mind me crashing at His house.


The Floor You’ve Heard so Much About

So, as promised, here are photos of all our hard work. They’re really low resolution to make loading them in your browser earlier, so you might not get the full effect, but the full size ones will be up on Facebook shortly, or you can invite yourself up to the cottage to see it in person.

Here’s what it looked like before:

So saggy...

Notice how much lower the floor is on the right side of the window than on the left. If there wasn’t newspaper stuffed under the wall trim, you’d see daylight streaming through a large gap. The floor has been slowly pulling away from the wall since about 1950, so this isn’t a new development, but it’s gotten much worse lately. In the foreground, there’s a square cut out of the floor. That’s from a previous attempt at shoring it up.

So we pulled up the floorboards and saved them (because they’re old and look awesome) and pulled up the subfloor (which was just some newspaper and tarpaper over old barnboards) and Ash jumped in to take a look at the rocky, muddy swamp that is the ‘basement’.

The man in the floor

The two support beams in the foreground were so rotten, we basically just pulled them apart with our hands. On the right, there was nothing holding them up or into the foundation (which has long since collapsed), so we realized we had our work cut out for us.

What lies beneath

Here’s a peek under the floor. After decades of shoring up the foundation, the house will finally get the TLC it needs! In the centre, you’ll notice the cinder blocks holding up the beam we cut out. You may have to squint to notice that those blocks are sitting on another set of blocks that are mostly submerged in some icky mire. The water under the house was musty and grimy, but on a hot day, that’s what keeps the ground floor so cool.

Windows help keep bugs out

With the foundation still holding up the house at two corners, the wall is must be pretty solid not have cracked in half like an egg with this much pulled away from it. This was just such a weird scene for me that I took a bunch of photos. It’s the outside on the inside!

We put a board under the outside wall and shored it up with three concrete posts (of sorts) and then tied this frame into the existing unrotted beams, but rather than following the natural slope of the house (which is WAY off), we levelled it out a bit.

A message to the future

We left some messages to future generations of my family, and this is one of them. I’m pretty sure that no one will see this for a loooooooooooong time.


Once the frame was in, it was time for the subfloor. It may not look level but that’s because the far wall was painted with the trim on when the floor was already out of whack. If you eyeball the floor to the window, you’ll see that it’s pretty good.

The finished product

We hid most of the sketchy pieces of flooring under the stairs and matched the flooring as best we could. It’ll need some wood putty and a coat of paint, but it’s not going to fall down anytime soon. Note how the floor meets the trim under the window on the left and how it meets the base of the stairs under our feet. There’s no longer a trampoline at the bottom of the stairs (or on them) and everything is wicked solid. I really couldn’t be happier.

Thanks again to Rob (pictured left) and Ash (pictured top, giving the ‘thumbs up’) for working so hard for so little. You guys will always be welcome at the house, especially when it comes time to fix the foundation on the shed. To everyone else who conveniently had something on last weekend and couldn’t come help, I’m not bitter. You’re still welcome at the cottage… you just can’t walk on our fancy new floor.


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