Plans afoot to save deteriorating log cabin in Canatara Park

The Canatara Park log cabin. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

A trio of groups has begun discussions to return a log cabin in Canatara Park to its former glory.

The Sarnia Heritage Committee, Seaway Kiwanis and the Sarnia Historical Society hope to renovate the two-storey structure that stands adjacent the Carriage House at the Children’s Animal Farm.

The cabin is used for Christmas and Easter on the Farm but has suffered deterioration and settling in recent years. Some logs are damaged, dormer windows are broken and wild animals have been getting inside.

“We have a designated property which is owned by the city, but it has falling into disrepair,” said Gregory Ross, chair of the Sarnia Heritage Committee.

“It’s been over 20 years since we’ve had a chance to do a restoration.”

The goal is to restore it to functionality and meet modern accessibility standards while maintaining its authenticity.

Features being considered include interactive kiosks allowing users to explore the park’s history and to peruse photos and historical documents currently being digitized by the Historical Society.

New and active programming is also being considered.

Preliminary contact has been made with the Alix and Trillium foundations to explore possible capital grants, said Wayne Wager, a past chair of the Heritage Committee.

Donations would also be accepted through the city website but no municipal funds are being requested.

The cabin dates to the 1800s and appears to have been designed and built by a homesteader, Wager said.

It came to Sarnia in the 1930s from the Goderich area. It was disassembled, transported on a barge and reassembled at a property on Modeland Road.

When Sarnia councillor and homebuilder Lorne Hay died in 1970 it was donated to the city and relocated to where it stands today.

In the 1990’s, the cabin was home base for a city-run program that employed summer students as park interpreters.

“My family had been here since 1976 and this was the go-to place at Christmas time and Easter,” said Coun. Anne Marie Gillis, a city representative on the heritage committee.

“This is a landmark for the city. It’s incredibly important.”