When Cam Green spent summers at the family cottage on Balsam Lake, he and his friends built tree houses using found materials.
“That was something that was a big part of my childhood,” the co-owner of Fort Treehouse Co. says.
Now, he and wife, Lauren, are embarking upon building a multi-unit treehouse lodge in the Haliburton Highlands.
Minden Hills council approved their rezoning request at an Aug. 31 meeting. The Greens can now apply to build three tree houses around a lobby building that is close to completion. The lodge is on Geeza Road, abutting the Dahl Forest. It will be off-grid, with a propane back-up generator.
“All the sites have been chosen, and we’ve done advanced tree assessments for all the trees we’re building in, so we’ve got everything set up and ready to go,” Cam said. The Greens hope to start construction this fall, with the lodge being slated to open Autumn 2024.
Cam said it is a different concept that will bring great benefits to County tourism.
“It’s unique in that they are tree-supported structures of significant size, which is uncommon, especially in Canada. We’re placing these structures in the forest canopy with special care taken to avoid damaging the natural landscape and ecosystem. Rigging and mechanical advantage pulley systems are used in place of heavy machinery to help protect the trees.
‘You’re in the canopy of trees’
“We can’t risk damaging the roots by using heavy machinery, or anything that might compact the soil. There are some challenges that come with that but finding creative solutions is something we enjoy. We really have to think through how we’re going to get the materials, the building, and the people working on it, safely into the trees.”
Cam added they view the lodge as an access point to everything that Haliburton County has to offer.
Cam moved to the Highlands permanently in 2007, and he and Lauren bought a home in 2011. They’ve since had two children. They completed their first treehouse build in 2020 and have maintained full occupancy ever since.
After moving to Minden Hills, their friends came from the GTA year-round to visit, and in winter were surprised at how much there was to do outdoors. “That really sparked a realization that this is something that could be beneficial to everybody. As much as treehouses are a passion of ours, they’re truly an access point to everything else we have available here. We’re building unique places to stay but from the treehouses you can get out and hike, bike, ski and get onto the lakes.” Cam said.
Two of the units will be one-bedroom, the other twobedroom. Two will be accessed via ramp or bridge and another by spiral staircase. They will range from 15-feet to 40-feet above the forest floor. There is also the 900 sq. ft. ground level lobby building.
Cam said they’re excited about the modern design they’ve developed with architects from Toronto. They’ll feature single story green roofs, with rooftop decks, “so you’ll be right up in the canopy on the open-air deck.” He added that they will incorporate abundant glazing and openness, sunken living rooms and the main viewpoint will offer floor to ceiling windows.
“They are architecturally-fascinating structures. The most unique and exciting component is that you’re in the canopy of the trees, immersed in nature, wholeheartedly. It’s a pretty wild experience. I think people walk away with a feeling of calmness and having had the chance to slow down and relax.”