The evolution of the cabin
Credit: Lijuan Guo / iStockphoto

The evolution of the cabin

The log cabin played a fundamental role in Canadian history. Fur traders leap-frogged their way across the continent from summer outpost to winter cabin, opening up the country along the way. That history may explain our national fascination with hunkering down on a cold winter's night in a cozy room made of wood. And while the log cabin of old may have evolved into grand ski-in, ski-out mansions—and going by different names (hut, cabin, cottage, home)—there are rustic options out there for those looking for the traditional experience. Heading to a wilderness abode is a fine way to spend a winter weekend, whether its spartan or luxurious, ocean-side or mountain-top. Here are 10 to choose from, coast-to-coast.
B.C. surf shack
Credit: BC Parks

B.C. surf shack

Imagine lounging in a shack a few steps from an empty, two kilometre long crescent of white sand; perfect waves rolling shore as the sun sets beyond the rocky point, somewhere in the direction of Japan. This is dinner-time TV at Raft Cove Provincial Park, a remote protected chunk of coastline and rainforest on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. Tucked into the forest here is an old settlers cabin, turned surf shack. To find it all you need to do is drive five hours up the island from Nanaimo to a parking lot at the end of a logging road, hike two kilometres on a rough trail through rainforest to the beach, and then hike the sand to the Macjack River. In the winter you'll want to bring your surfboard and solid rain gear, but you're almost guaranteed to have the place to yourself. More info: BC Parks
B.C. backcountry base camp
Credit: Andre Goulet

B.C. backcountry base camp

Irish-Canadian Arthur O. Wheeler surveyed the Canadian Rockies, logging many first ascents along the way and, with Elizabeth Parker, founded the Alpine Club of Canada. His legacy is remembered at the ACC's A.O. Wheeler Hut in Rogers Pass. Just two kilometres from the Trans Canada Highway through the snowy pass, Wheeler hut is the perfect base camp for exploring the world famous backcountry skiing of the area. The hut is positioned within a day's trip distance of iconic tours like Young's Peak, the Seven Steps of Paradise, the Dome Glacier, Asulkan Pass, and Illecillewaet Glacier. The comfortable cabin sleeps 24 and is popular; make a reservation. More info: Alpine Club of Canada
Alberta historic hut
Credit: skoki.com

Alberta historic hut

Renowned as a prime hiking destination in the summer, Banff National Park's Skoki area is arguably even better when covered in snow. The craggy summits, open larch meadows, and wide valleys make great day tours, mellow turning terrain and offer the odd ski summit in the right conditions. Escape the cold nights inside historic Skoki Lodge. A destination for tourists since 1931, the wood lodge oozes character and history. It's an easy 11 kilometre ski from the Lake Louise ski area, north of Banff. More info: Skoki Lodge
Saskatchewan winter playground
Credit: The Outerbanks

Saskatchewan winter playground

Surrounded by the Gonlid Ski Trails, Fort a La Corne forest, Saskatchewan River, and Wapiti Valley Regional Park (a downhill ski area), The Outerbanks cabins are perfectly positioned for an action-packed winter weekend in northeast Saskatchewan. Work up a sweat on the 30 kilometres of trails maintained by the Melfort Cross Country Ski Club, explore the forest by snowshoe, ice fish on Codette Lake, snowboard at Wapiti, or toboggan right out the cabin door. When you're tired, hang your toque in one of the three sprawling cabins (each sleeps eight to 12 people) overlooking the river and soak in the hot tub. More info: The Outerbanks
Cabot Trail in winter
Credit: Shaun Lowe / iStockphoto

Cabot Trail in winter

This is another romantic getaway, except this time it's oceanside on the Cabot Trail with lots of snow and ice. Even the name, Wreck Coast Nature Cabins, suggests a isolated spot. That said, the two-bedroom cabins on the north-east coast of the Nova Scotia island, are close to cross-country ski trails. You can snowshoe right into the Highland mountains, plus the nearby restaurant serves world-famous lobster sandwiches. A short walk will land you on the edge of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with pack ice likely clogging the bay and maybe extending out towards Newfoundland. When the wind picks up, head inside your private cabin and warm up. More info: Wreck Coast Nature Cabins
Algonquin retreat
Credit: Voyager Quest

Algonquin retreat

You can rent the Voyageur Quest 12-person Algonquin Log Cabin for a large group (think family time) or join like-minded strangers for a weekend of exploring the forest and lakes that make Ontario's Algonquin Park famous. Explore nearby trails and frozen waterways on skis or snowshoes. Dog sled tours are available by request. The comfortable cabin has a sauna, shower, woodstove, and propane lights. You can either cook your own meals in the fully-equipped kitchen or sign on for the catered and guided option and just sit back and relax. More info: Voyager Quest
Yurts on the St. Lawrence
Credit: Sépaq

Yurts on the St. Lawrence

A short walk from the main parking area at Parc National de Bic on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River (east of Québec City) are eight yurts and a couple of igloos available by the night. These unique winter accommodations provide walk-up access to 30 kilometres of marked snowshoe trails, including hikes to grand panoramas of the partially frozen river estuary and surrounding hills. There are also cross country ski trails and kick sleds. More info: Sépaq
Shelter on Fundy Shore
Credit: Marla Rossiter, Parks Canada 

Shelter on Fundy Shore

Fundy National Park's Point Wolfe day-use shelter becomes an overnight cabin in winter. For $10 per person a night, the rustic cabin becomes a quiet place to take in winter on New Brunswick's Bay of Fundy. The shelter sleeps four with a picnic table, woodstove, and sleeping benches. Ski or snowshoe to the shelter along a packed trail, 7.5 kilometres from the main visitor area. More info: Fundy National Park
Manitoba winter romance
Credit: Ian Graham / iStockphoto

Manitoba winter romance

Barrier Bay Resort at Whiteshell Provincial Park is for adults only. Its collection of cabins are for couples looking for an escape with whirlpools, a fireplace, satellite TV, and a small kitchen. In other words, you don't have to leave but if you want to, there are cross-country ski trails, complimentary snowshoe rentals, and ice fishing opportunities. All the cabins are on Dorothy Lake, part of a chain in the lake-rich park, east of Winnipeg. More info: Barrier Bay Resort
Fjordland refuge
Credit: Natalie Lucier

Fjordland refuge

You know that view from the top of the Tablelands looking down on the fjords of Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park? In summer, it's busy with other tourists and backpackers, but winter is a different story: The scenery is still awesome but the tourists are gone. Stay in one of two backcountry ski huts run by the Gros Morne Cooperating Association. If you like your skiing and snowshoeing flat and mellow, head to Bakers Brook Hut. (To get there, go 8.5 kilometres down a ski trail and then along the shore of Bakers Brook Pond, one of the park's fjords.) For those that like to turn and have avalanche and route-finding experience, Southwest Gulch Hut sits in the mountains near excellent ski terrain in the Tablelands. More info: Gros Morne National Park