Renting out housekeeping cottages was a lucrative business in the 1950s. Cars had just become good enough to drive the hundreds of kilometers from the hotter parts of the US, air conditioning was not yet widespread, and air travel was out of reach for most. So renting a cottage for a week in Northern Ontario was a good way to escape the heat.
Early on, cottages were simple affairs, with no indoor plumbing and just bare stud walls on the inside. Land near water was still relatively cheap, so building cottages to rent out was good business.
By 1980, when my parents bought Amogla camp, most of these camps were still operational, but in decline. More vacation options had become available, air conditioning made the heat more bearable, and a younger generation didn't like to use outhouses. More recently, an increasinlgy dificultUS border, slow US economy and low US dollars have not helped matters either.
Today, very few of these camps are still in business. Neither is Amogla camp. My parents are retired from running it. If we ever sell the place, whoever would buy it is most likely to sell the cottages off individually. The price that people are willing to pay for a cottage they own is way out of proportion to what people would pay to rent one.
But in the early 1980s, we started building fancier, newer cottages on the camp, demolishing the old ones and recycling much of the wood for the new ones.
The cottage at left is cottage #2. It was built in 1983, and was the third new cottage we built at Amogla camp (the cottages are numbered by position, not building date). All photos on this page were taken in 2012.
I think this cottage is the cutest of the seven, so I decided to do a bit of a tour of it for this website. It's a cool cottage from a woodworking perspective.
My dad made panelled shutters for the first four cottages. After that, he switched to a much simpler design.
The first three cottages had fancy patterns painted on the shutters, although the weather has taken it's toll. The shutters on the right side are completely under the porch roof, so they never get rained on. All the windows are under a roof overhang to some extent, and with the shutters closed about 7 months of the year, all the wooden windows (built by my dad) are still in good shape after nearly 30 years.
We never really liked doorknobs that much, so my dad made wooden door latches for all the cottages. This is one of my favourites. From the outside, it's just a slider, but inside, there's this nice lever arrangement for operating the sliding bolt.
More on wooden door latches
The dining table, with a solid 40 mm (1.5") maple top. The chairs are cool but a bit on the bulky side. They were inspired by a local woodworker, Paul Asam (one of the Asam brothers). I don't remember my dad ever making chairs like that for customers.
The sitting area, or "living room". The painting at right on the wall is one of my paintings, but not one of my better ones.
My dad always built coffee tables that were a bit tall. The idea was that you could actually use it as a table, not just as a footstool.
Sometimes it gets chilly in the morning, so all the cottages have a wood stove. The wood stove is sort of based on the German masonry heater, or "Kachelofen" idea. But it's really just a brick enclosure with a barrel stove inside. The brick enclosure has vents at the top and bottom, so convection causes good air flow around the stove. This keeps the stove a bit safer. Sometimes tourists, unfamiliar with wood stoves, would fill the stove with wood, light it, and then when it gets too hot wonder "how do you turn it off"?
The cottage framing is mostly post and beam style. These ceiling beams are the floor joists (no decorative beams here), and the floor boards are the sub-floor for the upstairs. We had to be careful to keep these beams and boards clean when we did the framing.
The kitchen. With avocado green appliances. My parents bought used appliances where they could, although the green actually goes nicely with the wood.
The bathroom. Nothing special. The bathroom is on|
the main floor, and the bedrooms upstairs. This made this
cottage less popular with some guests.
|Cottage #2 is one of just two cottages with an upstairs.|
The master bedroom. I think this is the nicest bedroom in the whole camp.
The glass door goes out to the balcony.
The balcony never got used very much, but without the balcony the cottage would not have looked quite right.
The view from the balcony.
These internal doorknobs are pretty cool.
More about wooden doorknobs
The second bedroom is a bit odd shaped, and has a slightly narrow single bed on one end ...
The view from the back bedroom is onto the creek and the wooden bridge.
What's neat about the shed for this one is that it's cantilevered off the main foundation. The knoll of land that this cottage was built on was too small for the shed, so it just sort of hangs in the air, built on some beams extending from the main foundations.
Of all the cottages at Amogla camp, this one has not given us any foundation problems, thankfully.