Alpine Yurt

7 months in the making and 4 years of R & D we have designed a yurt that will withstand any and all harsh conditions



From the image on the left (the day we flew in) to the image on the right in 7 days. It was snowing so hard the helicopter pilot took her door off so she could fly sideways and see.

Dave Byers (owner of One of a Kind Creative Woodcrafting and Cedar Yurts) hands over the keys to the new alpine yurt to Andy Smith, the Strathcona Area Supervisor for BC Parks, West Coast Region. The following blog is a start to finish look at this project.


 Monday, August 21, 2017

COURTENAY – A permanent group shelter at Croteau Lake in Strathcona Provincial Park will provide safe, dry, versatile activity space for larger groups and will complement a newly built group site.

The facility will be a hard-sided yurt with a metal roof to accommodate the park’s heavy winter snow loads, and will be large enough to provide shelter for group activities of up to 25 people (it is not planned as accommodation at this time).  The project is being developed by the Strathcona Wilderness Institute, with support from BC Parks, Nyrstar Mine, and other community donors and built and installed by One Of A Kind Creative Woodcrafting.

Click on this link for the full story.

READ about the history of the area where the yurt will be installed and a very extraordinary fellow named Eugene Croteau (whom this Lake was named after) at

Could we RE design one of our cedar yurts to withstand 540 pounds per square foot snow load? That was the question I was asked. EVERYONE I spoke to about this said there must be something wrong. That would be over 50,000 pounds of snow / weight on the building.
Engineers, architects and builders all said the same thing – the decimal point is in the wrong place – IT CAN’T BE THAT MUCH.but it was!

I was confident that our cedar yurts could withstand this load with a bit of engineering and some changes.
Foundation and center pipe in place by 43K – Nice job guys! Croteau Lake in the background


This project would NOT have taken place without the assistance from Tim, Nolan, Graham and Wayne – you know who you are;
And to the best workers ever – my General Manager Sean VanAlstyne who does NOT understand the word quit and Larry Blain who just keeps on trucking no matter what and Stephen Munro the newest addition to our family

And to
Andy Smith, the Strathcona Area Supervisor for BC Parks, West Coast Region – this was Andy’s vision for many years – congratulations Andy!.
Andy has several years of planning behind this project and probably a few thousand emails. Andy’s team of Aaron, Jamie and his rangers worked tirelessly hiking in and out of the alpine to dig away for the foundation and center post for the 43 K crew.

Andrew Johnson of Timber Box Home Designs did an awesome job of designing a round building for the very first time.

Jim Mitchell was the lead engineer on the project and was scratching his head many times as he punched the buttons on the calculations. In the end we have a stamped, signed set of drawings for a structure that will withstand 540 pounds per square foot of snow load. A special mention to Dave Vincent who worked along side Jim Mitchell to assist with the engineering on this project

SLEGG Lumber was the first firm to step up to the plate with a donation to the project. SLEGG donated the LVL’s for the rafters as well as all the western red cedar for the floor – AWESOME DONATION guys

ADVANCED BENDING TECHNOLOGIES donated the 3″ x 3″ curved angle iron for the base of the yurt. This is a key part of the entire structure.
Check out their portfolio – from spiral stairs and water parks to 36″ curved pipe and curved roofing panels – you have to check this out 

Island Ropes donated the hoops that hold the yurt together.

Windsor Plywood in French Creek donated the 3 windows.

Nelson Roofing in Cumberland was where the CUSTOM metal pie shaped galvanized roofing was purchased from. As soon as I seen their web page I knew this was the roofing company I wanted to work with. Check these guys out

The center ring was custom made and purchased from Express Custom in Errington.

Columbia Manufacturing is where the triple bubble was purchased. The first of its kind and is featured on top of the yurt.

Western Red Cedar was purchased from Sawmill Direct

2 sections of smaller yurt scaffolding was purchased as our large scaffolding was way too large


The rest of this blog will be about what it took to build this extreme yurt and getting all the materials, tools and people to the site and back by helicopter

We took the cedar to Valley Cedar where they allowed us to use their moulder as we only have a shaper – what is the difference? A moulder can process both sides and both edges at the same time.

The top and bottom and 1 edge (using the moulder) was completed in 4 hours with 1 hour for set up. It took another 4 hours to do the one remaining edge. The moulder saved a full days wages for 2 people.

Now it wouldn’t be a good story if all I told you was the good things that happened would it?
Because all we have in our shop right now is a shaper (can’t afford a moulder right now) all our knives have been made to cut from 1 direction. The moulder is set up to cut from both directions – SO we were able to surface the top and bottom and 1 edge using Valley Cedar’s moulder (in under 4 hours).

Then back to our shop and set up the shaper to shape the remaining edge.
shaper The cedar you see here will be the walls of the Alpine yurt

Cedar is cedar and it will warp and bow and we need all our joints straight to prevent wind and water from entering the building through the walls. Sean and I spoke about a custom tool that sure would be nice to have but who can make such a tool? On my way into Nanaimo, I pulled over to take a run through the industrial park in Lanceville (just outside Nanaimo) and drove past this sign that said CUSTOM FABRICATION – hey why not – it does say custom doesn’t it?


Well it turns out that the owner does custom fabrication on vehicles but took this as a personal challenge – this is what he came up with – EXACTLY what the doctor ordered – Thanks Cary
clamp Cary Fehr owns Shooters – Great guy for any off the wall welding and fabricating – he says that if you can dream it he can build it. 1-250-802-6970

Here it is in action

Metal for the roof was picked up from Nelson Roofing in Cumberland. They hand cut the pie shapes and knowing I was flying it in stacked the pies half and half to spread the weight even – I love it when people look ahead and add to the solution. Makes the job so much more fun – thanks guys!



Now to sort and weigh everything

Meanwhile Larry is boring holes through the staves so we can screw them together in the field (using our new special tool from SHOOTERS)


Sean is making the door unit. The window sections standing up against the overhead doors can be seen n the background


CUSTOM steel curved headers made from Nanaimo Metal Fabricators. Len Ronkainen (owner / operator) said they were very busy but he would fit it in for me by Friday and they came through. Had the holes punched in the metal for us also. AWESOME job guys


Curved headers primed right beside the center section of post.
This section of post sits on top of the post installed on bedrock on the site now by the crew at 43K


The bottom ring compliments of Advanced Bending Technologies
And do they ever know their stuff – check out their web site at

We laid out the entire circle and cut 4 pieces of the curved metal as splices for the 4 joints


Larry fitting one of the splices in place


Stephen making another splice

Meanwhile at EXPRESS CUSTOM they are making the top center section of the center post


Seen here finish welded and upside down. The bolts fit into holes in the flanges of the steel posts


All metal has been de greased, washed and has a coat of primer


Steel headers being bolted through the header and side staves to support snow loads – shows inside of the header


shows the outside of each header – our metal flashing purchased from AANAWL sheet metal (Gerry Clayton) will cover all the carriage bolts


Easier to work in a warm shop as me thinks it will be colder and wetter up on the mountain.
With that thought in mind we are doing as much as time will allow inside our warm shop
First window section up and being bolted to the bottom metal track

Next the door unit and the second window unit gets attached

Holes are all pre drilled to secure the header – inside view

Outside view – we have the custom made curved metal flashing that will cover the exterior of each opening
So we had to countersink every hole the thickness of the head of the bolt so the metal flashing would sit flat against the wood

Opening has blue skin installed all around and this shows the metal going 1 stave beyond the opening

Lets look at just how much is involved in making 1 window section
The staves are clamped together with a bead of BIG STRETCH caulking in every joint
6″ screws suck everything together
toe screws are applied to prevent racking
then blue skin is applied to prevent moisture penetration

Even the bottoms of every stave are caulked, receive several 6″ screws and get toe screwed

Then the sill is made with a rain drip groove on the underside, the caulking is applied after the blueskin
Then the sill is screwed in place

The window is installed and finally you can see the curved metal outside flashing and drip edge from AANAWL

The exterior trim is installed
Expanded foam is applied to the gap all around every window
Interior trim is custom made for the diameter and installed
Caulking is applied all around the window
The exterior flashing is installed and caulked.

On to the door section

Bottom of the door outside

Bottom of the door inside is bolted right through the 3″ x 3″ angle iron

One fifth of the way around – the more we can do in the shop the better – 7″ of snow on the site today and we leave tomorrow   yikes

All loaded up on the trailer – PLUS a flat deck full plus 2 trucks full

Images of the site with the foundation crew – floor is now completed by 43K – they won the contract to build the foundation and install the bottom section of the steel post for the project and sent these pictures for us to see the progress.


All ready for us and another storm front is on it’s way in


Island Forms agreed to use their truck to bring the heavy skids of material to the helicopter site and unload our trailer at the same time.
Thanks Hugh – you guys were great!

Our crew getting a briefing on helicopter safety and hand signals before loading materials

There are 2 ways to bring in materials
1) A net as you see here – bringing in our cooler and totes of food and personal gear

2) A sling for larger packs of lumber and supplies. Here you see both a net and a sling

Materials now all on site and Sean set up his market tent as it started to snow.
In fact it was snowing so hard the helicopter pilot removed her side door and flew in the last 2 loads sideways

Sean wasted no time setting up his market tent to keep the snow and rain off our tools

Starting the bottom steel ring

Bottom ring bolted together

Tent and lights set up for night shift number one

Blue skin and pressure treated plywood installed to protect the edges of the western red cedar decking (DONATED BY SLEGG LUMBER AND INSTALLED BY 43K

Bottom ring installed with overhang

Every joint in the steel bottom ring had a splice using 1/4″ thick steel. The entire bottom ring was donated by Advanced bending technologies 

Door section installed and bolted to the bottom ring – then the window unit to the right of the front door

Then more staves are screwed to each other and more wall goes up

Remember the SPECIAL CLAMP I had made by SHOOTERS – here it is in action screwing in one of three screws that keep all the staves tight to each other

At the bottom, EVERY stave is bolted through the steel ring using stainless steel screws

43K is a company owned and operated by Ben and Shaun. They had a contract to install tent platforms around the yurt site and secured the contract to install the foundation and floor for this yurt.

They offered us their entire camp already set up with cots, cooking facilities, diesel heater, dishes etc for $250 a night as they had worked their shift and would be on their days off when we flew in – worked like a charm..
These guys spend their life in the bush – thanks much! This is called a winter heaven tent.and was set up as the cook tent

Side view with the other tent as a sleeping tent. We had cots right in the cook tent
The salmon in the tree was thawing out for tonight’s supper – honey garlic baked salmon

Greatest little stove ever – easy on propane. A 2 burner with an oven

Diesel heater that kept the tent warm and dried the clothes as it rained and snowed for the first 4 days on site

Stephen’s cot

Larry’s cot

Shelving – Dave’s cot is to the right of the shelving and if you look on the top shelf you will see 2 large plastic jugs stacked on top of each other
There is an interesting story about those jugs – they are designed to filter lake water to drinkable water.
We arrived on site Thursday.
Saturday night / Sunday morning around 1:30 am, the wind started to blow and blow hard. The tarps were ripped off our rafters down at the yurt site
and the back of the tent kept pushing against the shelving with every gust. Wind speed was a constant 60 to 80 km per hour with gusts
around 100 to 120 km per hour. At 3:30 I was woken up rather quickly when the plastic jugs of water were pushed off the top shelf and
you guessed it – dumped the contents on me and my sleeping bag. Stephen and Sean loaned me a blanket each.

We went down to the site to check for any damage and cut a brace and screwed it to the shelving to prevent the shelving from blowing over and went back to sleep.

The tarps were mostly torn off exposing our tools to the rain

Time for some food porn – this was the plate of nachos the boys enjoyed

This was the honey garlic baked salmon with rice and onion saute’d bacon and cheese broccoli

End of the food porn – I thought I had taken a picture of the chocolate cake I baked but can’t find it

Meanwhile back at the yurt the scaffolding is being set up to install the second section of pipe and the large top ring

Second section of pipe installed – now the fun part

Almost there – just one more lift – only weighs 600 pounds guys – come on

One last grunt

Top section installed and bolted and scaffolding taken down

Back to installing the walls – yes, it did snow on us again

Larry trying to keep ahead of the snow falling to clean each stave and apply a bead of caulking

Frigging cold and wet

Stephen took the picture on the right with Larry shoveling snow off the floor

Starting the rafters

Night before the storm – all tarped in over our tools

Several rafters up

Sean explaining to Larry and Stephen

Rafters all cut and installed

Roof decking of 2″ x 10″ started

Sean is a 3 man crew all by himself

Every second pie is solid – every other one is a ladder

Nightshift almost has the roof closed in

Decking is all done

A look on the inside – the rafters are LVL’s (Laminated Veneer Lumber) donated by SLEGG LUMBER

Every opening has the steel header custom made to fit the curve / diameter of the yurt by Nanaimo Sheet Metal
Expandable foam is sprayed all around the window to seal the gap before trim is installed.

Ice and water shield is installed under the metal roofing to prevent condensation and add a layer of protection

FINALLY the first sheet of metal is installed – getting close to wrapping this up now

3 pie shaped pieces of metal are installed
We felt so good about our progress Sean gave everyone the night off

Sean telling another 4 wheeling story with Stephen on the right and Brian (from 43K) on the left

Larry on the right with Peter and Ben (from 43K) on the left. Our shifts overlapped and Ben, Peter and Brian allowed us to stay in the
WinterHaven tent while they slept in the smaller tent – thanks guys
We needed 2 more cots and Jamie and Andy from Parks hiked in with them – a 2 hour hike carrying 2 cots – you guys ROCK

We were all congratulating each other on our progress, HOWEVER ……….
Remember the storm on Saturday that knocked the shelving over? You guessed it – another storm tonight
Larry went down at 3:30 to pound some nails in the leading edge of the last sheet as the wind had caught it and flipped it right over
Back to square one

Nearing the end of the metal

Another look at the inside – clean up started

Final cleanup – you can see the center post to carry the weight of the snow – engineered for 50,000 pounds
8″ schedule 40 steel pipe right to bedrock

The sun came out finally and who knew there was a mountain behind Croteau Lake

The last piece of the puzzle is the bubble. Sean installing the bubble


Have to put some weight on the bubble to seal it to the butyl tape.

A look at the inside showing the center ring, rafters and decking


Final clean up and the guys from 43K gave us a hand to load our gear and get ready for the helicopter
Here to pick up another load

Several loads ready to fly out

Contact made

Up she goes

Another line down – another load out

Answering Andy’s questions

The Engineer flew in with Andy from Parks and said he would issue a Technical Memorandum ……….. this was the last line
In conclusion, I consider the “Alpine Yurt” at Croteau Lake to be safe and suitable for its
intended use, that being a temporary shelter for group meetings and an emergency shelter.

WOHOO – done – time to hand over the keys to Andy Smith

Congratulations to a great team. These words are from Andy Smith

Dave – I want to again congratulate you and your crew for the completion of the yurt. You and I know how challenging of a project this was which only makes the completion that much sweeter.  For the crew, please pass on my admiration for their accomplishment working under such bad weather conditions – they should be proud of their work and their contribution to the history of this park – THANK YOU!

I want to say the same – THANKS to everyone that had a hand in this project and especially to Sean, Larry and Stephen


Flew in March 16 to check on the yurt

This was the yurt


We dug down to reach the bubble – that is how much snow was on top of the yurt





For any newcomers to our yurts or to yurts in general, this is what a typical yurt looks like (not ours)
lattice walls There is a wood lattice wall structure covered in canvas (seen here with no canvas)

lattice and windows
Here is a look from the inside of someone’s yurt.
I do not know where this either image came from or I would add a credit note.If a reader out there does know please contact me.

Enough about other manufacturers yurts – this is our campground yurt – we replaced the lattice and canvas walls with western red cedar


Our windows are made in complete sections with curved headers to support snow loads. These are premade right in our plant.
You can have 1 window or gang several together

w-header Seen here with the curved header and SEAN – our General Manager and master builder

5 windows Seen here with 5 window sections all ganged together

First, the platform (or floor) is built then the door section is stood in place and staves added until you come to another place that you want a window or another door etc. and so on until the last piece of wood (we call them staves) is installed. Then we tighten the hoops

Approx half the yurt is now standing.on the Salt Spring Island yurt installed in August

Bottom hoop is on – installing the top hoop now. These were 10′ high walls.

Metal band to start the metal roof.

Installing the standing seam roof panels

hard working guys