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Whistler's HemLoft goes to Canadian Wilderness Adventures

Treehouse to join CWAs collection of recycled and repurposed buildings in the Callaghan Valley
LOFTY LOCALE The HemLoft is being removed from the Kadenwood area this weekend so it can be relocated to a new location. Photo by John French

UPDATE - Earth Day, Monday, April 22

The HemLoft is down now. Check for details of the future plans for the structure on Thursday.

UPDATE - Saturday, April 20

HemLoft creator Joel Allen has announced the egg-shaped structure he built in the Kadenwood forest will be taken over by Allan Crawford of Canadian Wilderness Adventures (CWA). Crawford said last week that he intends to add the HemLoft to his collection of recycled and repurposed buildings at the CWA tour operations in the Callaghan Valley.

A team of people is going take the HemLoft down soon.

More to come.


Allan Crawford went back out to the HemLoft this week for another visit when he heard the legendary little tree house in the forest is going to be relocated soon.

When the owner of Canadian Wilderness Adventures (CWA) heard that Joel Allen, the builder of the HemLoft, wanted to pass on the "secret" treasure in the Kadenwood forest to a new owner he started immediately thinking of how he could make use of the HemLoft. Crawford's friends had similar thoughts.

"I've had just about everybody I know either put on my Facebook or phone me or text me to go get the HemLoft," said Crawford Monday afternoon after spending the entire previous night editing video footage collected as part of the 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown.

CWA has a number of reclaimed and recycled buildings that are used by the backcountry touring company, including the log building that sat unused for years at the corner of Highway 99 and Cheakamus Lake Road. Crawford bought the former Whistler Chamber of Commerce building, disassembled it and relocated it for use in his operations. He has also converted a number of used shipping containers into operations buildings.

"I'm a big kid and when I first heard about the HemLoft, of course, I went and did my treasure hunting to find it and got there pretty early on," said Crawford. "I was fascinated. It brings you back to your youth."

Crawford added that he is willing to pay to become the next owner of the loft.

Joel Allen has confirmed that the egg-shaped structure is coming down this weekend.

After he listed the HemLoft on a Craigslist page featuring free items in Whistler last week he was swamped by people expressing an interest in owning the structure. Speaking from Salmon Arm, Allen said he's now taken the ad off Craigslist because he might sell the structure.

"I'm considering taking money for it then giving 50 per cent to an organization in Whistler such as AWARE (The Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment)," said Allen.

His original plan was to give the materials away as a do it yourself project for the new owner. That changed after he started getting responses to his initial announcement that he planned to give the HemLoft away.

"In a full-circle type of way, I've decided to return the HemLoft to the place from which it came; since I acquired most of the materials for free from Craigslist," Allen wrote in a letter to Pique last week.

The high level of interest and offers of money caused Allen to reassess and look seriously at the money offers.

He said he has shortlisted four or five possible new owners. One of the possibilities, said Allen, is the proposal he got from Crawford.

He said other options he's considering include a proposal to turn it into a public art piece and he's considering a private resident's proposal as well.

"There is also a proposal to have it in a university setting as well," said Allen.

He hopes to make a decision on the future of the HemLoft this week. Allen's Whistler contacts have indicated that interest has risen the last few days.

"I got some feedback from someone who went to visit the HemLoft yesterday (April 15) and they said it was a line to get in of 15 to 20 people," Allen said adding that the HemLoft has "had a really good run" but now it's time to get it to someone who will fix it up and keep it maintained.

Crawford said if CWA gets the tree house it will be kept in good shape and it will continue to be something people can visit every day.

"What I was thinking about doing was maybe setting up a fund, something like $2 from every person we take out there would go towards grants for people that want to build projects like that," said Crawford.

He also said he'd like Allen to be the person to reassemble the HemLoft if CWA gets it because he believes nobody else would put the same amount of passion into putting the loft back together in its second location.

"It is going to be a really tough decision," Allen said of the ultimate fate of the HemLoft.

He is inviting anyone who is interested in helping to take the HemLoft down Saturday morning to contact him. Those interested are asked to send an email message to Allen said he'll respond with information on where to meet and when.