Porcupine Mountains - Swan Valley - Manitoba
Hart Lake Warm-Up Shelter is sponsored by Cook & Cooke Insurance/Financial.
This warm-up shelter was built in the winter of 1982-83 by Norman Hart, Allan Rowe, George Elliott, Paul Plamondon, and several other snowmobilers from the Bellsite area. A very narrow winding trail was hacked through the bush to Hart Lake in 1981 and plans were made for a cabin at this lake. They started before Christmas in 1982 and worked on it on weekends and finished it in March 1983. To the best of my knowledge, this cabin was the first cabin in the Porcupine Provincial Forest to be used as a snowmobile warm-up shelter.
Norman Hart was a trapper who trapped in the Hart Lake area. Hart Lake was named after him. This warm-up shelter was built as a trapper's cabin that Norman used when he was trapping and it was also used as a warm-up for the annual Bellsite Poker Derby. After it was no longer used as a trapper's cabin, Bellsite Community Center continued using it for its Derby. As the Bellsite group got smaller, North Mountain Riders snowmobile club took over the maintenance, upkeep and ownership of the cabin. The roof has been redone since then and carpet has been added as it originally just had a dirt floor, which was even more slanted then it is now.
After the wind blew a piece of the sheeting off the roof we thought, “That sure makes it a lot brighter in here” so we replaced the missing piece with plexiglass. So, now it's the only warm-up with a skylight and carpet and also can boast the most parking.
You may think that it is sinking into the ground but it was built this height originally because Norman was the kind of guy who tried to get things done as quick and easy as possible with the least amount of energy needed. It was built on the slope of a hill because Norman thought it would be better so that water wouldn't sit in the cabin, although there was an argument about this at the time as others thought it should be built on flat ground.
It has often been used to warm up and dry out boots when people got stuck in slush on the lakes or have fallen through creeks. At 10 miles from the nearest town, it's a long way back if you are wet. This old log shack has saved life and limb on many occasions.
All the trails to this cabin were originally cut by hand with chainsaws and hand tools. Up until around 2000, the trails were only about 4 or 5 feet wide. Since then hundreds of hours have been spent widening and improving the trails to the current state. In 2014 part of the trail was moved to the south side of the lake and now uses a section of the recently abandoned logging road to avoid crossing several lakes, swamps, and creeks.
By Randy Plett (2016)