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Mink Islands Cottage (1996)

16 Aug 2016
Image Credit: Michael Miller
Architectural Credit: Michael Miller Architect Inc.
Georgian Bay’s eastern shoreline – characterized by distinctive granite outcrops, windswept eastern white pines, and the notorious Thirty Thousands Islands archipelago --- has long been a source of awe and inspiration, attracting Canadians and foreigners alike. Most famously, the bay’s unique landscapes, and often formidable weather, were frequently depicted in the works by the Group of Seven, including paintings by Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, and A.Y. Jackson. 
A September Gale, Georgian Bay, 1921, Arthur Lismer
The area’s rugged beauty has also attracted a significant cottage community, particularly within the Thirty Thousands Islands archipelago where cottages are accessible only by boat. As part of our special blOAAg series on “Cottages, Cabins, and Camps”, today’s post takes a look at one of these cottages and how it’s design seeks to capture and maximize the picturesque landscape of Georgian Bay.

Designed in 1996 by Michael Miller Architect, the Mink Islands Cottage is located on the rocky Mink Islands – the outermost line of habitable islands on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay.  Unassuming in scale, the cottage is roughly the size of a large park shelter and includes a kitchen, storage area, washroom, dining area and living area. 

Sitting atop a rocky outcrop and with a commanding view of the surrounding landscape, the cottage’s most distinctive feature is its wrap-around glass façade, an element which enables its inhabitants to continuously experience the spectacle of water, rock, and weather so famously captured by the Group of Seven. 

Hovering over the glass façade, and supported by four large diameter columns constructed of built-up wood and clad in zinc, is an exposed wood ceiling structure with curved trusses. A central skylight provides abundant daylight to the interior - a key element given this remote cottage lacks electrical energy. The exterior materials were selected to elegantly weather and reflect the colours of the site.

The cottage is grounded by an elaborate set of decks and planters which taper into the existing landscape and follow the contours of the adjacent rock, providing an interface between the granite landscape and the cottage.
This post is forms part of our blOAAg summer series "Cottages, Cabins, and Camps" exploring the architecture of one of Ontario's most beloved building types: the cottage. Check out the other posts in our series for more great cottages across the province!

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