Forest House Suite
Forest House is a wilderness lodge located in the heart of the Boreal Forest on the shore of an unnamed lake in Northern Saskatchewan. The log buildings and the surrounding gardens have been lovingly carved from the Precambrian rock over the last three decades. Everything from the sun-lit dining room, to the wilderness trails, to the solar-powered electrical system, have been carefully located and constructed to showcase the many natural attributes this gorgeous place has to offer.
An interesting story.....
Deb Peters and Rick Kolstad began building Forest House 30 years ago. The place as it stands today is a testament to their vision and their skill as stewards of the land and master.
The dream began more than 35 years ago. Rick was travelling around western Canada looking for a place he could build his private sanctuary. On the advice of a friend he headed into northern Saskatchewan. That lead him to the MacLennan Lake area. After spending a summer canoeing and exploring the area, he chose a spot on the south shore of a small nameless lake.
Rick attempted to get a lease on the property. The government representative said no leases were available at that time. And he added with a wink, "Don’t you dare go out there and build a cabin without a lease".
Rick gathered up his log working tools and headed out to his chosen nameless lake. Soon a small well camouflaged cabin was built. To make it difficult to see Rick did not peal the logs and covered the roof with moss. It wasn’t until several years later that Rick was able to get a lease on the property.
That first fall Rick met Deb in La Ronge and convinced her to join him in his dream. They moved out to Rick’s newly built log cabin a few days later with a winter’s supply of food. Rick tells a story from their first winter: He had been ice fishing on a nearby lake. After catching enough trout for several meals, he began the snowshoe journey home. It was well after dark by the time he crossed the portage into their lake. He could see the light of the coal oil lamp in the window of their cabin across the lake. He knew that the love of his life was working in that light baking bread for him. And he had just caught fish. Rick said that he could imagine no better feeling. And so Rick and Deb lived like this for the next several years in their little cabin on the shore of their nameless lake.
It didn’t take the two of them long to realize that the spot Rick had chosen for their cabin wasn’t the best spot on the lake. They looked longingly at a rock bowl on the north side of the lake. The snow was gone from this spot more than a month sooner than their hidden place on the north side. Deb was dreaming of gardens and flowers. Rick was dreaming of basking in the warm spring sunshine. It only took a visit to the government people in La Ronge to get their lease transferred to this preferable spot. A new, bigger, better cabin was built partly from lumber from dismantling the original cabin.
Deb immediately began the process of making soil. There is almost no natural soil in this region of the north. They had already began composting at their old site and Deb hauled canoe loads of soil across the lake. She spent days getting soil from crack in the rocks, sifting out the small stones and mixing this with compost. It was a time consuming task. But the result was that soon Deb was able to grow some of their own vegetables. The gardens grew as they were able to produce more soil. Now, 30 years later, their gardens are the envy of everyone.
Rick and Deb realized their cabin was too small. They began the construction of the Lodge. While the Lodge was being constructed a dream started forming in Rick and Deb’s collective minds. Couldn’t this be a place where people could come to relax and reconnect to the natural environment? Couldn’t this be a place where people could come to learn about the boreal forest? Couldn’t this be a place where we could demonstrate sustainable living? The more they discussed this dream the more Rick and Deb believed they should work at making this dream a reality.
The process of turning their place into a business took quite some time. They had to get the proper licensing. They had to increase their capacity. There were many things that had to be done to make it legal and ready for guests. But in the late 90s they opened their doors to guests. Those who came discovered a place beyond their imagination. The beauty and serenity of the spot was a surprise.
Forest House was purchased from Rick and Deb in 2009 by my friend, Ric Driediger, owner of Churchill River Canoe Outfitters. My wife, Velda and I visited Forest House that summer as "test guests" for the new owners. I fell in love with the beauty, serenity and peacefulness of the setting and the forest around it. This inspired me to compose a collection of pieces about our stay, entitled "Forest House Suite".
Since my first visit to Forest House in 2009, I have been back three more times. Sadly, my last visit in 2016 was to document the changes caused to the area by a massive forest fire in 2015. Fortunately, the lodge and outlying buildings were saved,
After the Fire