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Tiny boat home packs sunroom & dock in remote kayakers’ lake

To reach the Iloft floating cabin, you drive five hours north from Montreal to Quebec’s third-largest lake and then kayak 45 minutes along Lake Saint-Jean to finally arrive in an uninhabited bay to climb aboard the buoyant greenhouse tiny house.

When we left Montreal mid-day on a summer Saturday, we had no idea that we had a kayak trip ahead of us, so when we arrived at the lakeshore at sundown, we had to hurry through our kayaking lesson and safety instructions.

With a storm approaching, we went as fast as our novice skills would take us, but it was still a good hour before we approached the bay and the blinking light of the amphibious shelter. With a butane camping stove, we cooked up a quick dinner, blew up an air mattress (the cabin sleeps 2 and we were five), and settled in for the night. We awoke to rain hitting the plastic roof and huge views of our private bay.

The Iloft is really more of a floating greenhouse: over a third of the structure is a transparent dome that warms the structure quickly with the sun’s rays. The kitchen includes the stove, ample potable water, and cookware and the outside porch houses an outhouse with composting toilet and a barrel to dump gray water.

The large dock that extends from the home is a perfect fit for two kayaks (we had to park three) and the only way off the Iloft is by kayak. There are no roads nor even paths through the surrounding forest.

Hugues Ouellet from Equinox Adventure, the company that hosts the stays, explained to me that they don’t own any land or water rights because the cabin is floating (on water in summer and the Igloft on ice in winter) it’s outside any formal jurisdiction. The Innu, the First Nation people who used to spend their warm season here, called the lake Piékouagami, meaning shallow lake.

For us, the off-grid adventure was a chance to get off the highway and slow down to a rhythm not driven by automobiles or even sidewalks. We spent the rainy early morning playing cards and sunny mid-day kayaking to other uninhabited islands.