Twenty-seven years ago, Lancelot Press of Hantsport published a little book called Backwoods Cabins of Nova Scotia. It was written and illustrated by Bud Inglis, who was then writing nature columns for a Halifax newspaper.
Inglis traveled through all 18 counties, taking notes and scribbling sketches along the way, talking to the locals for tips and advice. In all, he wrote detailed descriptions of 50 cabins of varying sizes, shapes and uses. And he clearly enjoyed giving each cabin a unique name, if it hadn’t already been given one by its owner.
Some cabin names were based simply on where they were located, as in Cabin off the Aylsford Road, the Reef Island Lodge or the Cabin on Ecum Secum Lake. Not much mystery there.
Others were seemingly named for their builder or a family member: Matthew’s Camp and McCarthy’s Retreat left little to the imagination.
Some names hinted at the cabin’s utility: A Trapper’s Cabin in Richmond County or the Horne Fishing Camp.
But what about Bear’s Tooth Cabin in Digby County or the Cabin Near Lake No-Good, or the Shanty at Snow’s Pool in Guysborough County? If anything, these quirky descriptions hint at some darned good stories.
Inglis himself said it took him 14 months to travel the province and document what he found in the far reaches of our Nova Scotia wilderness. It was helpful that Stora Forest Industries advanced him 500 dollars to help cover his expenses. He traveled by car, boat, canoe, snowshoes – even ice skates once – presumably to reach an isolated camp located at the far side of a lake or harbour.
His book got me to thinking – how many people today are building their own raw sanctuaries deep in the woods ? Or has the ubiquity of factory-made cottages and the convenience of mobile homes relegated to history the days of soul-soothing cabin retreats. Or has wilderness land been priced so high that it is out of reach for most of us?
Inglis captured a way of life that has slipped away, for whatever reasons. He could sense back then that it was disappearing. And before it was lost, he sought to capture what he described as “…the experience of making one’s way in the wild, and to perpetuate the yellow glow of the kerosene lamp, silently casting flickering shadows throughout a cabin, while a deer mouse rummages along a wall beam.”
Most of us could likely do without the mouse. But that yellow glow of a kerosene lamp? Sure sounds appealing, doesn’t it?
Article by Richard Perry. This article was originally found at https://garyrichardperry.wordpress.com/. All photos by Richard Perry.