In 1999, I built a yurt in northern Cape Breton.
Actually, my little round cabin bares little resemblance to the nomadic tents from the steppes of Mongolia. Those are made of felt. Mine is a wooden structure built from plans drawn by the late Bill Coperthwaite, founder of the Yurt Foundation, who I visited with my father in the outback of Maine when I was a child.
I used an old wagon wheel for a skylight, an old power pole cable for a tension band, wide pine boards on the interior, cast off slabs on the outside, wood shingles on the roof. All told, it cost a few hundred bucks in materials. And I worked on it for two summers, when I had time between fishing and my other projects. Friends lent an occasional hand.
The building caught the imagination of the community’s children. People used to drive down the Cove Road to take a look at the “flying saucer” that had landed in the field. Once it was built, I never locked the door. It became a favorite spot for many. The round wooden interior has amazing acoustics, like being inside a drum.
In 2003, when I left for South Africa, I got a man with a big tractor to help me move it to a more protected spot behind my father’s house. There it stands still, with an amazing view of Bay St Lawrence and the setting sun, snakes and wasps nesting in the wagon-wheel-spoke rafters, a cozy bed for whomever needs it.