HemLoft, a Secret Canadian Treehouse


This treehouse was made using reclaimed materials, some of which came from Craigslist. Like all unique shelters this treehouse, by carpenter Joel Allen, was a labour of love.

It was finding 'Old Man John' who walked the woods around Whistler in Canada that helped Joel develop his love of the woodland where he eventually built his treehouse. John is the founder of Hills Garlic Festival.



Even with good knowledge of the woods it took Joel months to find just the right tree to carry the treehouse two architect friends helped him to design. The egg shaped bubble, wrapped around the trunk of the tree, is reminiscent of the Yellow treehouse in New Zealand.

Joel's quest for the perfect tree was guided by a location that wasn't too arduous to reach and by aesthetics so that the proportions of the house would be in harmony with the land and its surroundings. This is a process all natural builders go through trying to find the right local materials and the right design for the right plot of land.

Joel has come to realise that building this tiny place in the trees was an expression of his personality, something all too often people don't get the opportunity to discover when they buy a home designed for an off-the-peg person which has never existed.

The treehouse sits amongst Canadian Hemlock from which it takes its name The HemLoft.


It was kept a secret for three years because Joel built it on crown land in Whistler, Canada. Joel says, ďSince the treehouse was built on crown land, I donít technically own it, and so its fate is uncertain." The future of the treehouse is therefore a little shaky.

Another friend Joel made on his journey to HemLoft was Ryan. They shared secrets about the best places to shower in the woods and the best sites to camp and together they created a new pastime, Sport Sleeping, where they tried to outdo each other finding the most outrageous places to sleep like the hollow trunk of a fallen tree. Joel spent the next few months sleeping in almost anything but a bed including a tractor bucket, scaffolding, water towers, and genie lifts.

Sport Sleeping got Joel thinking about long term sleeping solutions. Realising his favourite sleeping places were perches of some sort, the idea of sleeping in a tree was a natural conclusion.


After doing some preliminary treehouse research Joel decided he didnít like the clunky under-structures of most treehouses but rather wanted something more elegant.

With the help of two friends Mark and Jayne, who were recent graduates from architecture school, they set about making designs for the treehouse.

Eventually a casually suggestion about the shape of an egg was the catalyst for the final design. An egg shape would be elegant, organic and (almost) unique. Joel is now left in a bit of a predicament having made the existence of this tiny home very public in a glossy design magazine article. Joel is currently collecting opinions on his website to gauge people's views about the future of the treehouse.

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