Presently Popular

It’s very interesting to me, and telling, that one of the most popular posts on my Blog is ‘Cabins on Crown Land’. I’m sure that some of the interest is from Native peoples, as is supported by the comments I’ve received. However, I think that most of the interest probably comes from people who want to get away from the insanity of our society.

Back in the day, when I was a working stiff, I also wanted a way out, when I had time off, and I, eventually, was able to purchase a piece of property in the bush. It was a three hour drive from my home, at that time, but I loved the drive up there too, so it was no problem for me. I felt that I had finally reached a place that I could do whatever I wanted to do, and it felt good.

Over the years, I was working on this place, on any weekends and holidays that I had. In the beginning, it was just more or less camping, until I decided to put a building up. Even though it was fairly remote, there was a building official for this area and, from what I could tell, he didn’t really care what I did on my place. I had a couple of brief communications with him, and he said that he wanted to see the building, once I had it framed.

So, after I finished the framing, I let him know but, as far as I could tell, he never came to see it or, if he did, he didn’t say anything to me. Anyway, I completed that building, which was classified as a shed, at the time. This is over quite a longer period of time because, like I said, I only came up here on weekends and holidays. It was, however, a very large, and sturdy shed, if you know what I mean.

As time went by, a new building official was appointed, and new bylaws were enacted. It wasn’t that the area was seeing a lot of new influx of population, it was just changing times. Before I knew it, I was under constant scrutiny from this new building official, probably because of a jealous neighbor, who once asked me to sell my property to him, and I declined. What started out as a dream property for me, soon became one problem after another.

I would go up to my place and find that someone had been there while I was away. Sometimes, I knew who it might be, because I saw horse tracks, and the neighbor closest to me did ride horses. He was probably coming by to see what I was doing, so that he could alert the building official, or whoever might cause some grief for me. I also went up one time to find that my building had been broken into, and some items had been stolen. It doesn’t matter how far away from civilization you get, these things happen everywhere.

I owned that property for twelve years, and I did enjoy it very much, for the most part. but when it became less enjoyable, because of other people, I sold it, without any regrets. It became clear to me that looking for a place away from everybody was futile, because anywhere you might choose to go, you will find people, and where there are people, drama follows.

The fact is, you never really ‘own’ anything, it’s all in your mind. I’ve never been as much at peace as I am now, without the need to own a house, or a property, or any other large investment. I have just what I need, and nothing more. As soon as you ‘own’ something substantial, there will be someone who either wants to make you pay, or wants to take it away from you. It’s like the gunslinger, in the old west movies, who is seen as the fastest gun around. There will always be someone wanting to take him down, so that they can claim to be better.

I remember sitting in a high school classroom, and staring out the window, daydreaming about building a log cabin in the bush. However, I don’t think like that anymore. I still love being out in the wilderness, but I wouldn’t want to live like the Alaskan Bush People. I like being close enough to conveniences like a grocery store, it takes some of the harshness out of survival, and allows for more time to enjoy.

I guess that some people might just want a weekend getaway, and that’s why they might be interested in the idea of a Cabin on Crown Land. After all, cottage properties are very much for the well-to-do these days. I always got a laugh out of the media, news, or some other form, mentioning that everyone is headed to the cottage this weekend. Really? How many people can afford a cottage? Most of the folks I knew were just breaking even, and they might be able to go camping now and then.

As far as building a Cabin on Crown Land goes, it’s just not worth it. Eventually, it would be ransacked, destroyed, or worse. These days, because of snowmobiles, and ATV’s, people can get into places that were unreachable before, and they go everywhere. The daydreams of living in the wilderness are just that, dreams. I’ve done enough exploring now to realize that, no matter how far you think you are from civilization, you aren’t far enough.

Any place that is far enough, has very difficult conditions, such as brutal winters, incessant bugs, and no support whatsoever. Can it be done? Sure it can, but at what cost? Some people will say that the freedom is worth it, but there is no freedom in that regard. Wherever you go in this country, or most others, there will be oversight, in one form or another. Hell, the drama of humans is already claiming areas in space, because there’s nothing left on earth to claim.

So, what to do? Well, one of the reasons I stayed here, in Elliot Lake, is that I have access to untold amounts of wilderness, and it costs me nothing. I paddle past million dollar cottages, with their million dollar views, and I don’t have to see the same view every morning I get up. Sure, beautiful is beautiful, but you’d be surprised how fast the ‘same old’ becomes mundane.

From my frugal apartment, I can enjoy unlimited freedom to explore. I can go wherever I want to go, and I can just sit at home when I don’t feel like going. I have all the necessary conveniences I need within walking distance, and I do enjoy walking very much. No one wants anything from me, mostly because I don’t have all that much. In other words, I’m about as close to true freedom as one can get in this crazy world of ours.

So, stop dreaming about a Cabin on Crown Land, and do what I do. Just pick your spot, bring your camping gear up, and enjoy. The next time, choose a different spot, and do the same thing. You see, many people have the idea that the wilderness is not all that accessible, but that’s not true anymore. There are bush roads everywhere, and there are some fantastic campsites along these roads. There’s no need to ‘own’. Owning only reduces the amount of enjoyment you get, and replaces it with headaches.

Having a permanent spot to come to also leads to the ‘same old’ syndrome. Going somewhere new every time is adventurous, and never gets old. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t go back to the same spot, it just means you’re not tied to it. Spoken like a true bachelor, I know. 🙂 What can I say, I’ve taken freedom to the extreme, but it doesn’t have to be that extreme. People with partners can do the same things.

Anyway, I just thought that I would expand a bit on that popular blog post ‘Cabins on Crown Land’. The reason I made that post was not to encourage it, I was just wondering how those cabins came to be. Since then, I’ve been to many, many different places in the wilderness, and I’ve seen lots of other cabins and cottages on remote lakes, that could be accessed by water or air only. The fact is that most lakes, that are a fair size, will probably have some sort of structure on them, no matter how remote they are.

I guess, in a way, it feels a bit ‘safer’ if you have a permanent spot, or if you ‘own’ a property, but this is an illusion. It only strangles the adventurous spirit in all of us and, in the end, it’s actually less safe, in many ways. I would encourage anyone, who is interested in ‘getting away from it all’ to do so in the way that gives you the most freedom, and the most adventure in life, and costs the least. You just have to read through my blog to see how much I’ve enjoyed this lifestyle so far.

Update

Thanks to Peter’s comment below, I’ve now done some more research on the subject of Cabins on Crown Land.  In particular, I found some interesting information on Trapper’s Cabins.  It seems that these cabins can be built on Crown Land, at no cost to the trapper.  Here’s an excerpt from the MNR, which relates to this subject;

Trapline building(s) may be required by licensed
trappers to provide for shelter,
accommodation, safety and efficient trapline
management. The Ministry’s Free Use
Policy PL 3.03.01 provides that buildings used by
a licensed trapper consistent with this
policy do not require land use occupational authority (e.g. land use permit, lease) under
the Public Lands Act.
From here;            http://tinyurl.com/n9ghnht
So, as you can see, this is also a way that these cabins might appear in remote areas, and could very well explain some of the structures I’ve seen in my travels.  Nowadays, you do have to complete a course specifically designed for trapper training, and you need to buy a trappers license, which is about $40.   You would then have to procure an area to trap in.  After that, you can legally put up a cabin on that Crown Land property.
It’s also interesting to note that, in 1997, the rules regarding such cabins were revised so that these cabins could be used year round, which might be of interest to those who would consider going this route, in order to have a cabin on Crown Land.   It is also lawful, and acceptable, for the owners of these cabins, and those accompanying them, to use the cabins for purposes such as fishing, hunting, berry picking etc.  Although it must be kept in mind that these cabins are permitted for the main purpose of operating a trapping line, and this must always be verifiable.  Another little tidbit I just found out, although I’m not certain of the official version, is that the MNR will give a catch ‘quota’ to the trapper, for the trapline, and the trapper must meet at least 75% of that quota, in order to retain the rights to this trapline.  Seems a bit strict to me, but this is the information I came across during my research.
Also, getting a registered trapline is not guaranteed.  There are only 2,800 registered traplines in Ontario, and the MNR controls who gets them.  Even if you get a trappers license, you may be waiting a long time to get a trapline.
So, again, thanks to Peter for bringing up the subject, so that I could do some more research, and find this interesting information.  I will also add this update to the original post; Cabins on Crown Land.
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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Peter Hunkin on January 6, 2015 at 6:43 am

    Enjoyed your post! I was a mining exploration contractor for some 20 years, based primarily in Northern ON. and N.W. Quebec. Small log cabins were not uncommon. Most belonged to trappers and sat on traplines. The trapper owned the cabin but not the line. I can remember a few occasions, when they were welcomed as a temporary refuge from a winter storm. We always left them as we found them, with a note of gratitude and contact information.

    Reply

    • Hey Peter;

      That’s a good point, I never really considered non-Native trappers cabins, and I didn’t ask the MNR about those, although I have seen some shown on MNR maps. I’m thinking that you are saying that the trappers owned the cabin, but not the land, which seems to make the most sense. I’m not sure what the situation is now, regarding obtaining a trappers permit, and cabin, or even if it’s possible. I’ll have to do some more research on that one.
      Yes, back in the day, things were a bit more honorable, when it comes to respect for other peoples property. Like I said in my post, nowadays, with the access to remote areas being much easier on ATV’s and snow machines, you get all kinds of people going deep into the wilderness. I can’t say that I’ve seen cabins that have been damaged myself, but I’ve heard about it, and I have seen the land being damaged a lot. Secluded beaches that were once only accessible by water are now littered with junk, and broken beer bottles, the sand torn up by ATV wheels. Roads that were once fit for your average car, can now only be used by ATV’s because they have been destroyed by those same ATV’s.
      Of course, it’s not all ATV, or snow machine riders that are responsible, but it’s just a sign of the times that more and more people are getting back into these remote areas.

      Reply

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