Romance of the log cabin

Heather Howard stands with her father’s own “drawknives”, which are traditional woodworking hand tools used to remove the bark from fallen timber. Many of the tools were integral in construction of log cabins in the Robson and Canoe Valleys. / EVAN MATTHEWS

by EVAN MATTHEWS

The McBride and District Museum and Library has its newest exhibit ready to view, and you can even be part of it.

Romance of the Log Cabin, an exhibit started by Elsie Stanley of McBride and Art Carson of Valemount, intends to showcase the Robson and Canoe Valleys’ log cabins and structures.

The goal is to photograph and showcase as many of cabins in the region as possible before the cabins deteriorate or become dilapidated, says Stanley.

“It’s a historical thing for me,” she says.

“Our family likes to go to an (old trapper’s) cabin up near Valemount. We would check on it every summer and make sure it’s doing okay,” she says.

One summer, Stanley recalls hauling roofing material up to the cabin to replace the existing, deteriorating roof.

It’s the same love and respect inspiring log cabin renovations — shared mutually by Stanley and Carson — that Stanley says inspired the exhibit, Romance of the Log Cabin.

The project started with Stanley wanting to photograph a log cabin she had lived in on McBride’s Westlund Road, she says. Stanley and her sister went to photograph the one, and the project grew from there, she says.

Some of the log cabins depicted in the exhibit. / EVAN MATTHEWS

Stanley put out a public call, she says, asking for suggestions as to which log structures would make good photography subjects. People started giving her more ideas and information, and the project continues to grow even now, she says.

“That’s why we put the project in the museum,” says Stanley.

“We want more stories, and I’d love for people to bring their own pictures and put them in there too,” she says.

While many folks idealize the idea of a “romantic” log cabin, Museum Curator Heather Howard says the reality can be far different.

“There is a city’s romantic view of a log cabin that it’s beautiful, peaceful and quiet, even idyllic. The reality is far from that, often,” – Heather Howard, McBride and District Museum Curator

Each structure comes with its own unique history and story, something she says the artists try to draw out in their photography.

“There is a city’s romantic view of a log cabin that it’s beautiful, peaceful and quiet, even idyllic,” says Howard.

“The reality is far from that, often,” she says, pointing to the oldest inhabited log house from either Valley featured in the exhibit. Each cabin has a history, she says.

The 100-year-old cabin, Howard says narrowly escaped a fire, which claimed the properties barn and other surrounding structures. Yet, the cabin somehow survived.

“People have the perfect, romantic view of it now, right?” Howard asks.

The Romance of the Log Cabin exhibit runs at the McBride Museum until the end of June.