August 13, 2014

The Bunkie Blues

The mythical Eastern Canadian bunkie provides simple, basic shelter and relief from excess.

Before visiting eastern Canada I had never heard of a bunkie. After finding out what they are, I have wanted one of my own.

A bunk, bunkie, or bunkhouse is a sensibly small economical shelter that provides sleeping space that may or may not be in shared quarters. They are usually used to provide extra space for guests, but also provide space away from a main home or cottage. They are often used as space for artistic pursuits, and many are off-grid due to being in remote locations.

From the cottage country of Ontario all the way to the Maritimes the bunkie is the thing. They are on to something, but you can keep the cottage. All I need is the little bunkie.

I am not the only one attracted to the antonym of McMansion. Other tiny shelter enthusiasts have described these diminutive dwellings as, "quiet retreats", or "the perfect sanctuaries along life's journey", and "small detached hideaways".

Bunkies are usually in beautiful locations close to nature.

Bunkies are remembered fondly by those that have stayed in them. An extended stay in a bunkie can even change lives.

Poet Ellery Channing knew the creative potential of time spent in a small shelter set in beautiful natural surroundings. In a letter to Henry David Thoreau he advised that Thoreau build a bunkie in the woods, "and there begin the grand process of devouring yourself alive. I see no other alternative, no other hope for you."

Modern bunkie.

Henry David took up the bunkie challenge and not only saved himself, but experienced there a burst of creative inspiration that still profoundly influences us today.

The bunkie that inspired Thoreau to write "Walden".
Like Thoureau hankering for his original bunkie in the woods after returning to civilization in Concord  at the end of his year, I have the bunkie blues. But I don't want the cottage to go with it - just the bunkie in the woods by the lake.

That would be enough.


  1. Anonymous8/14/2014

    These bunkies warm the heart and cozy the soul. I can see why you would want to live in one! I like the one that has a white-washed interior. I could live on that lake! Bliss!

    1. Terri,

      I like plain and rustic. I like the idea of Wabi sabi, as in acceptance of the transience and imperfection of possessions/stuff/things/crap and life itself.

    2. Anonymous8/15/2014

      Wabi sabi sounds interesting. I had never heard of it so I looked it up.
      I usually come back to comments and enjoy reading your replies. I learn a lot here. You run a good blog.

  2. Anonymous8/14/2014

    Could we start a bunkie commune? Looks like heaven to me!

    1. Miss Marla,

      I love the idea of a bunkie commune. We thought about doing something like that on Vancouver Island, and even had a few friends in mind that would have been lovely to share with in a housing cooperative.

      The problem with that idea was the high cost of land. Here in Nova Scotia, on the other hand, it is a very doable proposition with a few acres being very affordable for a small group of prospective coop members.

      We can call it the "Beautiful Bunkie Housing Cooperative". It could be a seniors housing coop and we could help each other build our bunkies in big celebratory work parties (before we are too old).

  3. They appeal to me too...but here in the UK you'd never get planning permission, though there are a few existing ones around, which are becoming exorbitantly expensive. One 12' x 18' beach hut recently sold for £180,000 - with no electricity or water supply. You could buy a three bedroom house for that in the town where we live! The 'modern bunkie' (glass front and back) looks pretty, but I couldn't live in that one - too much like a goldfish bowl - a cave is more me! Gregg's idea (comment above) is great!


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