Sunset at waterfront cottage rental on Manitoulin Island, Northern Ontario Canada


Providence Bay,
Manitoulin Island
Ontario, Canada

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History of Black's Bay
The 24 Years of Construction

  In 1980, my young family planned a tenting vacation on Manitoulin Island. We read about land for sale in local paper. We came, we saw, we decided.  We purchased 113 acres of virgin forest during 2nd week of vacation. We camped out in tent on our own land for 3 days before the vacation ends.
This is a picture of the unopened Concession Road in 1980.  This road was originally created around 1960's by chain sawing all the trees down, then sending in a bulldozer to push all the stumps out of the way.

In 1980's, the speed limit for 4 x 4 trucks was about 3 mph, picking your way between the trees, stumps, rocks, cracks, & bedrock outcroppings.

After all the difficult road work was done by manual, back breaking work over a 15 yr. period, we bought a tractor with a grader blade(~1998).  I'm sure there's logic in there somewhere

Still, the locals tend to stay off this road, and it is very private.  Wildlife use it as one of their main travel corridors.

Surveyed and cut West property line from Concession Rd. to the waterfront. Build rock cairn on waterfront to mark location of property line. Build garden shed as temporary storage for tools, etc.
Surveyed and cut East property line from Concession Rd. to the waterfront. Build rock cairn on waterfront to mark location of property line. Buy 14 ft. travel trailer to stay in when at property, instead of tenting.
Start surveying for ideal road location to waterfront. Cut first 200 yards of road with chainsaw.
Bring 3 month old son to property for first time. Cut another 200 yards of road with chainsaw.
Return from 1 yr. job posting in France, back to Canada to have vacation on property. Clean up road and property lines.
Cut 500 more yards of road with chain saw, shovel gravel into holes left by rocks removed from road.

Things were not always so easy.  From 1980 to 1984, there was major work to be done building the road down to the waterfront.

Rock removal on Black's Bay roads was done the old pioneer way (shovels, picks, pry bars, winches, and lots of sweat). Twenty-three years and many tons of gravel later, we have a Concession road that we can all be proud of.  Our mini-van regularly attains speeds of 30 to 50 km/hr (30 mph) on this road.

Here we can see just one bolder (estimated at 1,000 lbs.) being removed from the intended path of the road using a 2 ton winch and a few helpful trees as anchors.  Suction in the mud made a force over 5,000 lbs. necessary to move rock.

Chaining bolder to Jeep, rock dragged Jeep along ground as I winched, instead of removing rock   Chaining hoist to tree, I removed tree by roots instead of moving rock.  Chaining hoist to three big trees simultaneously finally moved rock.  Two more hours of winching finally had rock at side of road.

Approximately 100 boulders this size were moved to the side of the road  Thousands of smaller rocks were removed by hand and shovel and back filled with sand; providing a smoother ride.

We finally reach the waterfront on foot with road clearing via chain saw. Site selected for camp and the planned site for the cottage. Seven month old daughter visits property for first time. Trailer is hauled half way down road over stumps, set up as temporary camp.
Whole road is made passable for Jeep at dead crawl. Jeep drags trailer to waterfront camp location over stumps, rocks, & holes.
Road is made barely drive-able for 4 x 4 vehicle and large construction materials trucks. Located sandbar close to cottage. Designed and build outhouse as training project for learning carpentry before tackling cottage construction.
Original plan was for 12' x 12'=144 sq. ft. temporary camp. Discussions with relatives switch design from temporary camp to main cottage for 28' x 20'= 464 sq. ft., then expanded again to "T" shaped design. Received Letter of Conformity from Manitoulin Planning Board, and we're off!

Main beams installed between 10" diameter Sono tube foundations, and floor joists laid.  Sub-floor put on main floor joists, first floor walls built, used spiral staircase (150 pieces with no diagram nor instructions) was erected and dismantled 4 times before we get it right, large cedar beams are ordered and installed in kitchen on main floor, 2nd floor joists and flooring are installed, "chicken coop" built over top of spiral staircase, 2nd floor encased in plastic to protect from snow and rain over winter. Build manual water pump station at camp and " water line to lake (we finally have water !). Build benches at firepit.

2nd floor walls built, floor joists for loft installed, attic roof trusses ordered and installed, roof shingled during November snow storm to get cottage closed in before winter hits
More work inside (partition walls in 2nd floor) & outside.  Improve road to 5 km/hr speed limit for most sections.
Improve road so building materials can be more easily brought in to site (can now make 15 km/hr on most sections), clean up land around cottage site. Inside of cottage is used to store building materials while living out of trailer. Paint exterior of cottage.
Work on inside of cottage. Small piece of glass purchased, hole cut in sheathing, glass stuck to sheathing with calking to create first window in cottage. Used propane stove and fridge purchased from next door neighbour, refurbished, and installed in kitchen. Kitchen counter made out of 2 x 4 and wall sheathing. Wood stove added to cottage.  Cottage set as my full-time permanent residence.
 Three double bunkbeds constructed so we can now sleep 12 people in cottage. Foam rubber purchased for sleeping comfort. Build outdoor stone firepit. Add 4 more temporary windows in cottage.
Install kitchen cabinets and countertops in kitchen. Move sink from old rough countertop to new system. Design and build lakewater pumphouse, install water lines to lake, install gravity-feed water tank in attic, connect up water system to provide running water at kitchen sink. Install Yagi antenna on roof of cottage for cell phone connection.

Survey and cut new road for tractor access to orchard. Clear land and built 1 acre orchard and plant 15 apple trees. Designed and built 16 ft high water tower for 10,000 lbs of water & tank as a water supply for the orchard. Ran water and electrical supplies from pumphouse out to orchard. Design & install automatic irrigation system to water trees throughout growing season, even when nobody at cottage.

Designed and built outdoor shower and observation platform at beach. Invest in gravel for road, 1" layer everywhere, blasted rock was used to fill in swamp for road passage, improve road. Road now good enough for 15 km/hr on most sections.
 Buy tractor to help build road. Road now good for 20 km/hr on most sections. Designed and built deck for trailer. Design and build new wood shed. Working inside cottage.
Design and built 640 sq. ft addition (Phase II) for cottage to add entranceway, Mudroom, bathroom, utility/workroom, basement root cellar, and 2 bedrooms on 2nd floor.  Install preliminary electrics and lights in cottage.

Solar hot water heater at outdoor shower
Designed and built cedar decks for cottage and 2nd floor balcony. Purchase and install real windows and doors for cottage. Designed and built instantaneous water heater for outdoor shower. Installed electrical cable from generator shed to trailer and to outdoor shower. Buy grader blade for tractor to grade road. Road now capable of 30 km/hr on most sections. Make 6 Muskoka chairs & urethane.

Nov., 2001
Completed vinyl siding and cedar decks on cottage. Installed linoleum in Mudroom and bathroom, installed electrical panel in cottage and underground electrical supply cable from generator shed to cottage, installed 5 smoke detectors, did electrical wiring in bathroom, built and installed wet wall for bathtub & shower. Added extra fence at bottom of orchard fence to keep bunnies out. Dug up 600 rocks to ring bottom end of fence all around 1 acre orchard. Plant garden inside orchard for onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and peas. Extend irrigation system to water garden. Wrote Operating Manual. Purchased batteries and charge controller for solar electric power system. Started to actively search for people to rent cottage. Purchased & installed patio furniture on West deck & at trailer. Go fishing & catch 16 lb lake trout, 23 lb. Salmon, and 9 lb salmon. Bought deck flowers and planters. Built swing & climbing rope for kids.
Installed drilled water well, pump, freeze-proof outdoor hydrant, and underground water line with electric tracing to cottage; providing us with a year-round water supply. A pressure tank and pressure switch was installed on well water supply so additional pressure can be achieved for shower. A shutoff valve for attic tank was installed at main floor to allow easier showering & prevent overfilling of attic tank. A start delay control system was added for the well pump to protect it from low voltage starts during generator startup. The bathroom tub, shower, toilet, sink were all completed. A propane-fired 50 USG hot water heater was added for hot & cold running water. A propane shutoff valve was added to kitchen stove to prevent purging of propane from gas line; helping light propane heater more readily. The ladder to the attic was replaced by a stairway. The large room on the 2nd floor addition was divided into 2 separate bedrooms with a stud wall. The second floor North wall was insulated. Half wall height drywall was installed on the two second floor bedrooms. A cell socket adapter was added so that cell phone can be connected to POTS phones throughout the cottage. Lock boxes were installed at the gate chains and the cottage to facilitate remote access to site & avoid re-keying. A 16' canoe was purchased with paddles, safety equipment, bailer, and 3 personal flotation vests. A 24" chainsaw was purchased as a backup to our old reliable 16" saw. Country garden of garlic, onions, beans, peas, and squash were planted. Deer crops (eg. grass seed, turnip, etc.) were planted in clearings leading to orchard (for deer & geese). Flower gardens were renewed, and planters were added to the deck. Balusters were completed on outside deck stairways. 400 watt wind generator was purchased for installation out at the waterfront. A 5 watt solar PV panel was purchased for running recirculation pump at outdoor shower solar water heater. 12 Volt DC pump for 3 USGPM was purchased for use as pressure control on cottage water using attic storage tank instead of generator and 12 USGPM well pump. A 3 furrow plow was purchased for the tractor for use in planting crops in clearings. 400 watt wind generator on a 45 ft. tall tower was erected at the beach.  Attic water tank placed inside emergency overflow container to prevent spills & water damage inside cottage.


Solar PV panel being added to roof of cottage

Putting the 160 watt solar panel on the roof of the cottage, Oct. 2004

Electric water heater installed in basement for excess solar/wind/generator power utilization to heat domestic hot water. Solar panels, batteries, hooked up to wind tower generator. Power line from solar/wind power system was connected into cottage. Critical Load electrical panel installed in cottage. DC water pump installed in basement to enable indoor showering without running the generator. Hot water to kitchen sink installed. Grape vines planted in orchard. New 1" diameter water line installed from well hydrant to orchard water tower. DC battery moved to basement, charger and charge controller installed. Digital battery status meter & start/stop switch for DC water pump installed in dining room corner. Yagi cell phone antenna re-aimed to Mindemoya cell tower for better reception.  New support stand for solar water heater at outdoor shower built.  New recirculation pump and solar electric power installed at outdoor shower.  Trailer refurbished.  Elevated platform for solar batteries at beach (winter wave & ice protection) installed. Cottage re-wired for compact fluorescent lights & receptacle in every room, tied to critical load electrical panel.

Cottage is now 100% powered by solar/wind power system.  Gasoline generator is now only required for emergency backup power, and high power draws (ie. table saw, etc.).  All other electrical load is supplied by wind/solar power system.

Install drywall on one side of all interior walls. Install bedroom doors.   800 Amp-hr AGM (Absorbed Glass Matt) batteries purchased and charged, installation to cottage basement as main DC power supply for cell phone, DC emergency lights, and emergency AC supply. Six loads of sand added to beach front for our own "sandy beach".

Finish installing bedroom doors on master bedroom & 5th bedroom, Insulate attic & loft with spray foam insulation. Inspect graywater system.  Double solar PV capacity to 900 watts.  Purchase & refurbish larger propane fridge. Install high speed satellite Internet. Install eavestroughing.  New dining room chairs.


Done   Replace 400 watt wind generator on 3 yr maintenance retrofit. Winterize water lines with self-limiting electric tracing & thermal insulation. Upgrade wood stove hearth floor, & chimney. Upgrade cell phone.

Close in walls & floors on orchard water tower.

Install weather station and wind speed anemometer. Install automatic temperature controller for outdoor shower to regulate solar water pump to maximize heat gain from solar hot water heater. Do more electrical wiring inside cottage.


Redo kitchen with addition of microwave above stove, new countertops in granite-like cement, water purifier, dishwasher, rim joist insulation, close in skirt on crawl space under cottage, safety railing cables on spiral staircase, buy clothes washer/dryer (awaiting electrics upgrade before installation, design solar water heating, design hydronic radiant floor heating system, complete Orchard water tower.

Movie Clip


Size Format Approx. Download Time
with 56k modem
BBay Lodge Main Building  This movie is obsolete (dated Summer 2000), showing the cottage during the construction phase, just after the framing of the new addition was completed.

Since then, the exterior windows & doors, cedar decks, linoleum in the bathroom & mudroom, and the inside bathroom have been completed.  The still pictures on the main website are the most up-to-date.

BBay Lodge is a 2,032 sq. ft. cottage on 3 floors with a kitchen, living room, dining area, mud room, utility/workshop, bathroom, cellar, conference room/bedroom, and 3 bedrooms.

Later the conference room/bedroom was sub-divided into 2 more bedrooms.

708 KB  Quicktime Movie 160x120
44.1 kHz mono 16 bit
2 min 6 sec
 2.0 minutes
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Latest Update: April 26, 2013 11:24:24 -0400