The History and Renovation of the Wilkinson Heritage Homestead
Now that Wildwood has been secured, the Ecoforestry Institute Society (EIS) is busy reinvigorating the residence, from top to bottom, and inside and out. When completed, the former residence will serve as an educational venue as well as accommodation for local and global Eco tourists interested in the history and ecology of Wildwood.
Widely known as “Merv’s cabin” and renamed the Wilkinson Heritage Homestead, the log house nestles on the edge of Quennell Lake, surrounded by towering forest and ancient orchard. Merv, his wife Grace, and many friends built the house from logs harvested on the property, and, according to a recent assessment, it remains a structurally sound building today. Built in 1963 – 1965 after the original home burned down, the Homestead was where Merv cheerfully greeted the thousands of visitors who trekked to his door over the years to learn firsthand of his pioneering work in ecoforestry.
The Homestead was also where his wife of thirty plus years, Grace, worked hard to manage the family and household. Together, she and Merv looked after the children (theirs and foster children), cultivated large vegetable gardens and the orchard, and raised chickens, beef, and sheep as Merv pursued his ecoforestry work. It was Grace who owned 75% of Wildwood, prior to it becoming a publicly donated property. At the time of the transaction, both she and Merv knew that the property had been undervalued by about $100,000, but willingly forwent the difference in the interests of seeing the property protected in perpetuity. EIS has been pleased to recently welcome Grace back to Wildwood after many years absence, a powerful and emotional time for all.
Once renovated, the Homestead will feature three bedrooms, three bathrooms, kitchen, living and educational facilities, complete with new log finish, insulation, drywall, energy systems, wood floors, fixtures, appliances, and deck. All renovations will be completed in an environmentally responsible manner.
The Homestead will rise once again to receive visitors and seekers of knowledge who believe there is a better way to interact with nature, and a need to respect the values and services provided by an intact environment.