Iconic HemLoft will stay in Whistler

Tree house expected to become feature on Canadian Wilderness Adventure tours

When Joel Allen decided he was going to dismantle the iconic HemLoft he built using mostly recycled materials, he hoped the iconic tree house would not only remain in Whistler, but be housed in an idyllic forest setting like the one its called home for the past two years.

Fortunately for him - and Whistler - he got his wish.

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Owner of Canadian Wilderness Adventures (CWA) Allan Crawford has agreed to house the egg-shaped structure on the tour company's tenure in the Callaghan Valley. He said the HemLoft's new home will likely be on Medicine Trail, and is sure to be a popular feature of guided snowshoe and hiking tours.

"I wanted it to stay within Whistler, I wanted it to have a new beautiful setting and I wanted it to be accessible to the public," said Allen. "In the end it was important for me to keep it in Whistler because the community helped to make the HemLoft what it is."

Since announcing he was going to remove the HemLoft from Kadenwood Forest earlier this month, Allen received over 200 emails from around the world enquiring about the tree house. Initially, he said he was going to give away the tree house for free, but decided to reconsider after so many offers came pouring in.

The highest cash bid he received was for $15,000, and he also turned down offers from Nova Scotia, California, the Gulf Islands and BC Children's Hospital, among others.

"There were a lot of compelling proposals, which made it very difficult to decide," he said. "In the end my decision to go with (Crawford) wasn't so much based on his offer, but more on how his company would carry on the spirit of the HemLoft."

The HemLoft will join several repurposed buildings already on CWA land, including the former home of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce and an old log building that had sat abandoned for years on the corner of Cheakamus Lake Road and Highway 99 until it was relocated.

Crawford said the HemLoft fits in nicely with Canadian Wilderness Adventure's modus operandi.

"You can tell when things are built with passion and that's completely what (Allen) has done with the HemLoft," he said, "He built it out of materials he got off of Craigslist mostly for free, and put a lot of time and love into it, and that's what we do, so it fits perfectly."

He also hopes Allen's efforts will highlight the importance of reusing materials in Whistler, a community where people tear down "million dollar homes to put up multimillion dollar homes," said Crawford.

"People throw away stuff here that would be unheard of anywhere else in Canada," he said. "That's the idea of using recycled (material); to show that the stuff coming out of the homes here is incredible, and this definitely fits in with all that."

While details still need to be hashed out, Allen said he will reassemble the HemLoft this summer as part of his deal with Crawford. The structure was fully dismantled Monday (April 22).

The HemLoft, housed in a secret location until Allen revealed its exact whereabouts two weeks ago, became a popular attraction for local and visiting adventure seekers since it was built in June 2011. News of its removal was reported in major media outlets across Canada.

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