Some homes are built for people to pause, spread roots, and raise a family. Others are meant for transient folks, such as chefs, fruit pickers, and in this case, dog sledders.
Boyleville Saloon is located 30 km north of Whitehorse in the Yukon. It doesn't have central heating, running water, and there's a blanket stapled over the front door to keep out drafts. The space is small with the kitchen and bedroom in the same room. The bathroom is outside, which may cause concerns on a frosty -40C night. It isn't unusual for the water in the kettle to freeze overnight or the counter to be coated in a fine layer of frost.
The house was built for dogsledders and Kristina Disney (why yes, she is related to that Disney) wouldn't live anywhere else.
Home sweet home.
Kristina moved from Montreal last fall to work as a dog sledder for a Yukoner, named Gerry. He's been racing dogs for years and hires people to help. Before arriving, she wasn't sure she'd made the right choice. But when she saw her new home, she knew it would suit her well for the winter.
"It was a selling point when I showed up. I love it. Everything is rough and simple," said Disney. She cleaned, dusted, and went to the local dump. She found posters, art and plastered the wood paneling with splashes of colour . Sometimes the best decorations are free and come from the trash. The walls are covered in newspaper clippings, Winnie the Pooh quotes, and Aubrey Hepburn.
A warm blanket is a must when you live in a house without a furnace.
Of course, living in a cabin in the woods does come with challenges. Disney says it's important to have a battle plan before you wiggle out from under the thick blankets to start the morning fire. Rule one: Never lose sight of your down booties. Rule two: Make the morning run to the outhouse quick before you freeze to the toilet seat.
A small step down from marble counters and a jacuzzi, but it does the job.
Rule three: Don't let a "fake" kitchen hold you back. Her kitchen is a wood stove and a hot plate. However, that hasn't held her back as she somehow managed to make creme brulèe on Valentine's Day. Just because you live in a cabin in the woods, doesn't mean you have to be uncivilized.
Without a wood stove, cabin life would be dreary. Thank goodness for fire and its cheerful nature.
The cabin was built in 2005 from scraps. The owner and builder, Gerry, used leftovers from previous building projects. The logs, mostly spruce, were milled by a local trapper. It's quite common that northerners have multidisciplinary skills. Disney's neighbour goes to university during the week and teaches how to skin wolves on the weekend for some extra pocket money.
The cabin does have its oddities as the windows are tripled-pained, but daylight is visible through the blanket door.
Although the kitchen is small, how much space do you really need?
Gerry has a fondness for old westerns and decided to bring it to the north. As a seasoned dog-sledder, he needed a dog handler. Someone to feed and help train the dogs. Since he owns an acreage, he decided to build a small cabin for staff. His house is next door, so Disney can get water and do her laundry once a week. If the wind is blowing in the right direction, she can even sneak some wifi.
A typical day for Disney. Dogs, sunshine, and happiness. Life is good.
Disney's time will soon be ending as the season for dog sledding is winding down. She will probably move - maybe she'll work in a nearby bakery. Nevertheless, Boyleville Saloon will remain and Gerry will need another helper. The cabin will become another home for a wandering soul.
Houseporn.ca has also celebrated cabin life with these posts:
All photos courtesy of Kristina Disney
Researched and written by Liam Harrap, a master's student in Journalism at Carleton University