Committed to the Cariboo05 May 2014, Posted by Uncategorized in
[This recent article was published in the newsletter for the BC Log & Timber Building Industry]
A Short History
Bryan Reid Sr. established Pioneer Log Homes of BC in 1973. The new business owner chose an opportunistic location to open up shop; he decided on Williams Lake, British Columbia, thanks to its proximity to a seemingly endless supply of top notch Spruce, Fir, and Western Red Cedar. Pioneer Log Homes of BC has remained committed to the Cariboo ever since.
As the business grew, so did the family support. Several members joined Pioneer, including brother and Master Craftsman André Chevigny, and David Chevigny, a founder of Pioneer Logging. Son Bryan Reid Jr. trained under both André and Bryan Sr. to become a Master Craftsman. After 40 years in business, Pioneer Log Homes remains a family operation.
Early settlers to the Cariboo struggled to build homes from the materials surrounding them, using horse and manpower to hew shelter from the wilderness. The words “log house” still conjure up images of rustic backwoods settlements, a fishing camp on a distant lake perhaps, or a tumbledown homestead from Gold Rush days. Those homesteaders would not believe their eyes if they saw what log homes have become today, but they just might be happy to know the craft they learned out of necessity has survived in the Cariboo.
At Pioneer, houses are built completely by hand from western red cedar, spruce, pine, or fir, following in-depth consultation between the customer and Pioneer’s Design Staff. Once the house is built at the log yard, the pieces are numbered, and like massive tinker toys, dismantled, put into containers or trucks and transported to the home site to be reassembled. It’s a point of pride that these log homes are built by hand using old-fashioned tools employing old world carpentry methods of log peeling, sawing, and joinery. The work is very labour-intensive, resulting in a handcrafted structure that shows superb care and craftsmanship that goes into each Pioneer Log Home.
The log structures range from cabins to massive state-of-the-art homes. The largest ever built by Pioneer was 114,000 square feet, a home shipped to Colorado, and it is still recognized as the largest handcrafted log structure in the Western Hemisphere. The average log home is in the 3,000 square foot range & takes approximately three to four months to handcraft at Pioneer’s building site. The home is then shipped to the customers building site where it is reassembled and ready for finishing.
Employing 110 workers in Williams Lake & working with a network of distributors across the globe, Pioneer is upheld as an excellent example in the value-added sector of British Columbia’s forestry industry.
In any year, Pioneer builds around 40 structures, representing about a quarter million square feet of log construction. General Manager André Chevigny says, “Our builders are motivated by the architectural designs that are inspired by the dreams and ideas of our customers. Each new project challenges our builders to push the known limits of logitecture.” With immense pride Chevigny boasts he is delighted to inform log home customers, “We have the best crew on earth.”
And that crew is keen to take on intricate design challenges, like making 50-foot clear span trusses and finding just the right 14-foot tree trunk harvested from forests for a character tree. One project required two feature trees each 47-feet tall to hold up a lookout tower. A magnificent log spiral staircase to the top wrapped around the tree climbing three stories.
And now, after several one-off TV appearances, Pioneer Log Homes of BC has their own TV show!