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Historic Canatara log cabin beyond repair, but will be replicated

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Jake Romphf

A neglected log cabin in Canatara Park is too far gone to save, officials say, so it will be removed and replicated using as many of the original parts as possible.

City council approved the $100,000 restoration plan last week, which will see the city, Seaway Kiwanis Club and Sarnia Heritage Committee work together on it.

The homesteader-style cabin dates to the 1800s. It came to Sarnia in the 1930s from the Goderich area and was reassembled at a property on Modeland Road.

It was originally owned by the family of Sarnia’s celebrated power couple, William and Maude Hanna, and donated to the city in 1971 by Lorne Hay, a local builder and city councillor.

“I am sad to see the original one go. It didn’t have to follow this path,” said his son, Roger Hay.

“I think it’s a shame that the city allowed it to deteriorate to the point where we have to look at a replication.”

Nevertheless, the family is pleased there will be a log cabin for community use, he added, and grateful for the ongoing work of the Kiwanis Club.

Wayne Wager, a member of the Heritage Committee, said the cabin is beyond repair because some of its squared logs are compromised. Water seeped in where mortar chinking failed and caused them to rot, he said.

With its peg flooring, fireplace and cedar shingles, the cabin was a focal point for special events like Easter in the Park and Christmas on the Farm, but lacked amenities needed for year-round use, he said.

In 1989, city council officially designated the log cabin and adjacent carriage shed and smoke house for their “historic or architectural value.”

“It’s been a central part of the park, especially in the Animal Farm section, for decades,” Wager said.

Some $37,500 of the $100,000 needed has been raised, including a

$30,000 donation from The Alix Foundation, said Sarnia Parks and Recreation director Rob Harwood.

Seaway Kiwanis is launching a personal donor campaign and will also submit a Trillium Grant application for funding, he said.

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