Cochrane's well-known log house being moved to new location
Thursday, Sep 21, 2017 06:00 am
A fixture on the Cochrane landscape will rumble down the road to its new home next week to make room for an eventual twinned highway through town.
“It was home for 28 years … I felt like I was the gateway to the community to a certain extent,” said Holly Strand, who first moved into the quaint log home at 124 1A Highway East in 1989. “I feel really blessed that I had the privilege of living what I consider to be the entrance to the town of Cochrane.”
Built in 1986 by businessman Ken Waddell, the house that sits proud on a sloped portion of Highway 1A has been one of the first buildings to greet travellers as they come down the Big Hill into Cochrane.
Waddell constructed the building to be a show home for the now-defunct company Canalog. The structure was one of the first homes of its type to offer engineered 10-inch pine logs as part of a pre-manufactured kit, rather than handcrafted materials.
“We put it together in one day,” he remembered.
After using it as his office for two years, Waddell sold the approximate 960-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom place – which Strand originally rented when she first moved to Cochrane.
She purchased the house from her landlord a few years later and continued to live in it as the town continued to grow around her.
“Cochrane was just over 4,000 people when I first moved in. I’ve gone from looking to see who was driving by to, ‘Oh my God, it’s just non-stop traffic,’” said Strand. “The town has grown dramatically in that time.”
With the explosive growth of town, she knew the log home wouldn’t be hers forever – in fact, she said the provincial government began approaching her to purchase the land and building to make room for possible highway expansion as much as 14 years ago.
“I knew that it was going to happen – it was just a matter of time,” she said, adding she was officially asked by the province in April to sell the home by fall, so she put the little log house up for sale earlier this summer.
That’s when Waddell, now 72, realized he had an opportunity to buy his beloved house back.
“I really liked it. I wanted it back again,” he said. “I just thought it would be nice to have it ... just fond memories.”
Strand said she received more than 300 calls in three weeks from interested buyers – and seven firm offers were put on the table – but Waddell was the lucky one to secure the house again as his own.
Now that he had the prized property back in his possession, Waddell still needed to figure out how to move it off the land. So he called McCann’s Building Movers – a family-owned company that has been moving structures of all shapes and sizes in Calgary and area for more than 50 years.
Co-owner Pat McCann said he knew right away the house was structurally sound enough to move in one shot – especially with the rare surprise that the man who built the original home was the one who wanted to do it.
“This is a funny story … (to be) moving it for the individual who actually built the house,” he said. “We had engineer drawings of when it was built and how it was built, so that helped us.”
Though the town of Cochrane says there is nothing imminent in terms of twinning the highway, McCann and his crew are now getting ready to move the log home out of Cochrane next Tuesday and into Bearspaw, where it will take up residence on a 15-acre parcel of land Waddell owns near the Bears Den Restaurant.
The company will use a unified hydraulic jacking system to raise the structure off the basement, then set it down on piles and rollers. The house will then roll off the foundation and on to wheels and be hauled along the highway by two huge trucks.
McCann said he estimates the home, which is made with heavy logs but no drywall or stucco, to weigh about as much as a Calgary bungalow.
“It’s going to be a little tricky getting off that hill onto the 1A,” he said, adding climbing the Big Hill is also a unique challenge, but one he’s ready for. “We have brakes on all the wheels … We have supports that will not make it slide down.”
Once the house arrives at its new location, Waddell said he’ll rent it as a family home and increase its footprint to 1,600 square feet. He hopes to eventually turn it into a clubhouse for Bearspaw area seniors.
“I just love it so much,” he said. “It’s a one-and-only.”