Settling In to Kilgii Gwaay

I continue my account of two weeks volunteering on an archaeological project in Gwaii Haanas with some information on our luxurious camp. We were fortunate to stay at a cabin, formally termed by Parks Canada as the Ellen Island Operations Station. Ellen Island is known in Haida as Kilgii Gwaay which is also used as the name for the archaeological site that I was working on, located around the corner from the cabin. The cabin is the southern centre for field operations within Gwaii Haanas park. It has been designed as a comfortable and convenient place for staff who can be away from home for several months of the year.

The cabin design, by architect Malcolm McSporran, is based on traditional Haida two-beam houses.  This one is 1200 square feet and sleeps eight. It includes two bedrooms with bunks, a mud room, utilities room and living area with kitchen in one corner and office in another. It has solar power that runs the lights, radios, fridge, wood stove blower, recharging of batteries and laptops, the electric components of a composting toilet system and pressurizes the water system. Water is collected from the roof. Cooking and hot water is from propane. The interior is brightly lit by large skylights and with the northern latitudes electric light is not often needed during the summer.  Apart from the propane and maintenance requirements, this building is pretty much self-sustaining. It really is the most comfortable accommodation I have ever had in the field and is so much superior to tents that it is not really comparable. I have spent several years in total living in tents, and am so thankful to not have to do that here, especially in the rain.

This link catalogues my posts on the project and will grow as I post more.

Front porch, outhouse in distance.


Front porch, showing structural corner post and beams.


Interior living space


Communal snoozing after the long trip down to the cabin.


I was accompanied on this trip by Tansy, one of the Quimper Hittys, who is presenting a parallel series of blogs about the trip from a doll’s eye view which will eventually include more views of the cabin, or at least the views from it. You can find those posts here.

Canon 5Dii, Nikkor-N 24mm/f2.8 lens and SMC Takumar 200mm/f4 lens.




7 thoughts on “Settling In to Kilgii Gwaay

  1. The cabin is wonderful. I really like the weathered coloring of the exterior.
    I’m amused that it sleeps eight, being only slightly larger than my apartment – which I feel is cramped with two humans and two small furry beings. But then, we all pile into one bed rather than bunks.
    I love the first image.


    • Thanks Ryan. Redcedar weathers beautifully and lasts much longer if it is untreated and well ventilated than if it is painted or stained (which traps moisture in the wood).
      I like that first image too – it was an afterthought, and initially more about boat. But I am not sure I had enough context to post properly without it.


  2. The cabin is really beautiful. I wish they would build more houses like this instead of the huge, oversized one family houses they build around here. I like the last photo,too, and your socks.


    • Thanks Ken. I wish they would build more like this too, and of this size. There is no need for most people to have 3 or 4 thousand square feet, unless they have a whole bunch of kids.Also, the architecture of this place is much more interesting than the standard house (let alone ‘cabin’). I really hanker after a place like this to live in, if only …
      Those socks are some of the most comfortable I have ever owned.


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