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By Wendy Gabrek
Council has awarded a tender for the reconstruction and relocation of the historic pioneer log house, on the Museum on the Boyne property to, as a sole source, Victor Snow of Sunshine Construction and Restoration for a sum of $105,000.
The tender includes fees to dismantle, store and perform an offsite log restoration.
Dismantlement of the cabin is already underway, with an estimated completion date of spring 2019.
The log house originated on the south part, east half of Lot 11, Concession 5, Essa Township. It was owned originally by the McDonald family and the estimated date of construction is c.1865.
It was donated by Salada-Shirriff-Horsey Ltd. to the South Simcoe Pioneer Museum.
In 1960, the house was dismantled “log by log” and reassembled at the Museum site in June. In 2002, the log house was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
The 1960 reconstruction resulted in a lower than built ceiling height, replacement chinking between each log, a new roof, and a new foundation. The center doorway on the north façade was rebuilt. It also appears that the wall boards from the second floor were used as floor boards on the second storey.
In 1962 a pine floor was added; in 1963 the Museum opened for the season on June 30, 1963.
An October 3, 1963 article titled “Museum Ends Successful Year,” states that the “ground floor of log cabin was furnished”; “shingling of the cabin roof was completed.”
In the 1970s, two windows on the north façade first floor are hand-crafted reproductions; in 1985 the roof was re-shingled; in 1994 a condition assessment report resulted in some repair work and treatment for post powder beetle infestation.
In 1999 the Nottawasaga Inn agreed to finance the cost of raising the house to insert new foundation logs on the north side, and place on a concrete foundation, at the Museum Committee meeting dated December 14, 1999.
Major repairs and alterations were undertaken in 2000, including the center (south) doorway opening was widened for accessibility and the door replaced. The original trim around the door was retained. The hardware was removed from the original door and placed on the reproduction.
A doorway had been built into the west side of the house (said to date to when the MacKenzies used the building as a chicken coop). In 2000, this doorway was removed, and in order to maximize on the natural light for the interior, a single hung, four-light window was installed.
Cedar shingles were installed on the roof, along with gutters, pine fascia boards, and metal flashing. Industrial Roofing Services Ltd. of Concord was the contractor for roof replacement on the log cabin.
Also at this time a poured cement foundation was built to raise the structure to its original height and prevent it from sinking into the ground, and a bottom sill log on the east side was uncovered from the ground but accidentally cut during the foundation work.
This log was one row beneath the existing ground level and gave extra proof that the bottom set of logs had been removed in 1959 therefore dropping the building's height almost two feet. Due to the logs complete covering with soil, it was beyond salvage due to rot and infestation and it was decided to remove it.
Additionally, the original open, board staircase was raised onto a platform and a handrail installed, and an engineered beam was installed at ceiling height of the ground floor to support the second storey floor.
The ceiling was painted using colour-matched latex ceiling paint but the original cream coloured milk paint was left intact.
The original white pine floor joists were removed due to rot and replaced with a cement pad and sawn 2” x 4” lumber The interior walls were whitewashed, and the chinking repaired.
In 2001 the floor was sanded, and in 2002 electrical service was installed between the main building and log house.
Snow, a log cabin heritage expert, has worked with Sunshine Construction and Restoration on a number of heritage log structures dismantling, storage, offsite log restoration and re-construction projects including the Historic Bovaird House and the Pendergast Log House in Brampton, and the First House in Kitchener.
Victor Snow conducted the initial assessment, and will provide heritage consulting services as a sub- contractor to Sunshine Construction and Restoration, throughout the cabin restoration project.
Upon his initial inspection, which cost the Town $20,000, Mr. Snow has informed council that the structure requires extensive repairs before further serious deterioration occurs.
He also said, “[the]current state of roof shingles is a pressing concern. The last time the roof was re-done it was done with the lowest quality shingles. The roof sheathing is one inch pine boards with irregular edges with spacing as much as three. The sheathing is covered with tar paper which effectively prevents the cedar shingles from breathing and drying soon after a rainfall, thereby generally speeding their deterioration.”
Snow also stated that there are no collar ties to transfer the roof load onto the outside walls. Also, gussets installed at the ridge to add additional structural integrity are lacking. This is improper as the weight (particularly when the roof supports a snow load) is being partly transferred onto the ceiling joist towards their centres at the weakest point.
The chinking used between the logs is incorrect. It holds moisture which will further deteriorate the cabin logs. The house also appears to be sinking on one corner.
For the de-construction and detailed inspection of the building materials and any remediation work to the materials as necessary, Sunshine is charging the Town $125,000.
Costs include $60,000 to dismantle, transport and store the cabin, and $45,000 for the offsite log restoration $45,000.
Re-construction, including the installation of the foundation, and the preparation of the heating system will cost $100,000.
While construction is underway, the Museum will continue to operate as usual, including running its March Break Program.
If you would like more information on these or other programs offered through the Town of New Tecumseth call 705 435-4030 ext. 1500 or 1621.
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