the north face hoodies ‘Tiny homes could be a big thing for the Yukon’
The shaggin’ wagon is where the “tiny house thing” started for Pete Wright.
He gestures toward the makeshift home he built inside an aluminum shipping container in 2002.
From the outside, it looks like a cube truck with a hippie bent (a mountain mural is painted on the side, and a fake flowerbox is “planted” beneath one window).
Inside, the floor is covered with the white shag carpet that gives the wagon its name. A fuzzy pink lamp sits on the shallow kitchen counter. A disco ball throws spots of colour around the small, cozy space, which is heated by a woodstove.
The woodstove, says Wright, is what appealed to clients of his company, Yukon Alpine Heli Ski Ltd.
Usually when Wright takes guests out for heli skiing trips between White Pass and Haines Junction, he sleeps in his wagon. Clients stay in much larger, more luxurious trailers.
Last season, though, they started knocking on his door. As many as 10 people would descend on the wagon at once.
“I’d be in here with the woodfire going at minus 20 and guests are in their motor homes and they’re all going, ‘uhhhh, we want to come and visit you,'” Wright laughs.
After that, Wright says they issued an ultimatum if you want us to come back next year, we want some of what you’ve got.
Wright spent the last year trying to do them one better.
If you drive east on the Alaska Highway, you’ll see how.
Sitting just outside Wright’s workshop is a small wooden cabin with a bright red aluminum roof.
Measuring roughly 10 by 19 feet, the cabin consists of a living room/kitchen, bathroom,
bedroom, and loft area with additional sleeping space.
Inside, it smells like linseed oil. The walls are wood panelled. A Ted Harrison print hangs on near the door.
As a nod to Wright’s wagon, the loft features a cherry red shag carpet. There’s a small, cast iron woodstove in the living room.
“Clients were so bad with me,” Wright says.
“They made sure that they had pictures with the woodfire going inside. They were holding me to it.”
There’s no plumbing, but Wright says gray water from the shower and sink can be dumped as long as it’s screened, and guests are only using biodegradable soaps such as camp suds.
Adding pocket doors saves space. Bumping out dormers opens the house up.
He says he uses local suppliers and tradespeople for every aspect of the build.
Yukon carpenters do the post and beam work. Griffiths Heating supplies small, specialized heaters. Local gasfitters and electricians are brought in.
So far, the cabin is one of three Wright’s small crew of employees has built recently, at the rate of one a month.
The completed houses, which cost $60,000 to $70,000, are for his company’s use, but Wright says the one sitting on the highway has generated outside interest.
Not only has he had requests from individuals who want a cabin for their own properties, he says Carcross/Tagish First Nation has been looking at them as an affordable housing option.
Right now, he’s focused on the welding, cabinetry, and construction required to knock off a few more homes for the upcoming skiing season, which really picks up in March and April.