Chris Magwood

I want to be sure that you all don’t miss the story that I wrote for Tiny House Listings regarding the ecological tiny house building program in Peterborough.

Too, they have in the last couple of days announced a number of the new programs for 2015.

We are so very fortunate to have such a great program in Ontario!  I hope a few of you will be there this year.  Let me now what you think.

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Magwood

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Magwood


Categories: Building code, Environmentalism, Home, Insulation, Nature, Off Grid, Ontario, Open your eyes, Renovation, Rules, Sustainable living, Tiny house, Tools, Trade | 1 Comment

King Ludwig Syndrome

In Bavaria there lived a King named Ludwig II who was a dreamer, a patron of the arts and a builder of palaces.  He reigned only shortly from 10 March 1864 – 13 June 1886 until he died.  His death is considered to be a great mystery and some believe he was killed for spending all the royal coffers in just over twenty two years of rule.

That he was raised in castles and palaces and the family already owned many, many was not enough for King Ludwig.  He built, many magnificent and wonderful castles and palaces during his reign: Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee, A Royal Apartment at the Rezidenze Palace, and before he died he also had THREE others in the works, Falkenstein, Graswangtal, and the Chinese summer palace.  I suggest that you google to see these structures, if you are not familiar with them.  I have been fortunate enough to tour many of them and I can assure you that no expense was spared and they are absolutely beautiful monuments.  Today they are tourist destinations that will remain for centuries.

Ludwig also built a tiny house called Konigshaus am Schachen and this palace is the most little known of all the structures that he built.  Ludwig’s “tiny house” is only 2300m square.  About a half acre spread out on different levels.  Just three times the size of an every day North American McMansion.  When compared to his other palaces, this palace would certainly be tiny.  But, you know, I don’t think this is tiny.  Do you think it is?


Then, why (you may be asking yourself) am I sharing this house and this story with my tiny house readers?

Well, now for the rant.

We live in a society where most people suffer with what my husband and I refer to as King Ludwig Syndrome.  The idea that people can have their cake and eat it too.  The idea that you can say something and just because you said it means that others must believe it.  That in your own little Kingdom that when the emperor gets new clothes that we, who so happen to live in your Kingdom too, should all somehow pretend that we all see fine clothes and not a birthday suit.

Frankly the idea that anyone, including King Ludwig, can build a GIANT HOME, a moderate home or even a small home, and call it tiny is preposterous.  That you can call your house tiny, just because it is smaller than your other or former house is, simply, not correct.

I am tackling this subject because recently I have noticed on many, many tiny house threads that people want to call their 1200 square foot, 900, square foot, 700 square foot, 500 square foot homes (or not yet built homes) a tiny house.  Simply put, they are not.  They are moderate and they are small and they are hopefully perfectly right sized for you and your family… but again, this does not make them tiny.

The generally agreed on numbers and terminology are as follows.  A tiny house is a house that is UNDER 400 square feet.  A small house is under 800 square feet and a moderate home is under 1200 square feet.  Simple.

Now for the tough part.  These sizes do not mean anything more than being a descriptive term with a certain figure attached.  Clearly to a family of four a house that is 500 square feet will not feel like a big house.  Fact: that house will feel very tiny, but technically it is still a small house and not a tiny one.  You see the house size description is not intended to encompass your family, it is just a descriptive term for the house.

With all that said, tiny housers are NOT trying to say that everyone needs to live in a house that is less than 400 square feet.  It is a movement that suggests that people need to right size their home.  That is all.  Don’t pay for, or use more than you need.

I have said this before, but I feel the need to reiterate today.  It is not a competition to see who can live with the least.  Clearly homeless people win this.  The Tiny House movement is about living with the least amount that you can, and still be comfortable.  We tiny housers are NOT suggesting that every family needs only 100 square feet.  We are simply suggesting that if you live with less space that the quality of your life will improve.

I think that by anyone’s standards, I can say and we will all agree that King Ludwig’s threshold for the minimum was set unreasonably high.  Tiny is not for everyone, but you know what?  Right sized is!

Please don’t be a King Ludwig or to make us believe that you are wearing a fine suit while you are standing in your underwear.

Not tiny

Not tiny

Categories: 400 square feet, Open your eyes, Rules, Rules of thumb, Tiny house | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Ontario Tiny House Legalization…

Update: Monday May 16, 2016

I am sorry to say that the tip that came to me about the Municipality of Highlands East was not correct.  I don’t think that the tipper meant any malice but they were simply misinformed and I passed on this misinformation to you.  I am very sorry about this.

I know it must have been a sad disappointment for at least one of the people who read it, because Dan wrote to the the Municipality of Highlands East and here is the note that he got back.

“Our zoning by-law has not changed and the minimum size of a dwelling is 65 square meters or 700 square feet.”

I am sorry Dan and others who hoped to make this community their home.




There are two bits of news that I find promising when it comes to the legality of tiny houses in Ontario.

1. Garden Suites

2. UPDATE: the Municipality of Highlands East has lowered its footprint size to 500 feet.  Which is a perfectly reasonable house size and right sized for a lot of people.  (News of this came to me on November 19, 2015)  One tiny step forward!


Tiny house hopeful Anthony shared a bunch of research that he has been doing in his area.  He discovered that Garden Suites are allowed to be built in the area outlined in black in the below map of Ontario.

Each of these areas has rules unique to its own area.  But essentially what holds true to all of them is that if you can get someone to agree to allow you on their land, if you hook up your services to the main house and if you pay a nice hefty fee, you can park a tiny house in these areas. Yes I said PARK!  These buildings must be supplementary and they must be mobile.

With this said, please before you jump check the specific area, there are a lot of restrictions and you will need to know these.  You can’t fill too much of the green space in a lot for example and wouldn’t it be a pity to build a house 1 square foot too big after paying for all the hookups.

Also doing this will NOT be cheap.  These houses MUST be hooked in on the existing infrastructure.  No off grid toilets, there must be running water and electricity.  In other words, if you are considering building you have to add all of these infrastructural costs to your build. Further to this, you better have a LONG term lease with the land owner, even if this is someone you trust.  Once you spend the money for hooking your house to sewage, water and electricity you want to be sure that a fight over a cup of sugar won’t find you and your house without a place to live.

I want to note that while I am excited about the potential of this, there is a lot of leg work and money to make this happen.

If you decide to go ahead with doing this, please do so with your building inspector as well as a lawyer to draw up a lease agreement.  Remember I know something about tiny houses, but I  am not willing to take any responsibility if you fail to do your own homework for your own house.  I can’t possibly know all the individual codes for every township.


Garden Suites



The second point, and this is REALLY great news, just last night I heard from a counsellor from a very nice area in Ontario.  This person said that they are considering removing the minimum house size in the area that they are representing.   I sent back SO much information that they will have to spend quite some time reading the information I sent.  This said, it is totally worth my time to donate my time to this cause, because I want to ensure that tiny and small sustainable homes are available to anyone who wants to live this lifestyle.

When I know more, I will certainly share more.

We are getting closer every single day folks!

Categories: Building code, Community, Environmentalism, Ontario, Rules, Sustainable living, Tiny house, Tiny House Ontario, View | Tags: , , , , , | 38 Comments


Today, October 18, 2012, I venture off the topic of Tiny Houses to recognize my status as a PERSON in Canada.  You may or may not know that women have been persons under Canadian law for only 83 years – since 1929.  When my grandmothers were born, they were not persons.

I just wanted to holler out a huge thank you to the women that fought this good fight.

  • Emily Murphy
  • Henrietta Muir Edwards
  • Irene Marryat Parlby
  • Louise McKinney
  • Nellie McClung

I also want to remind myself that well behaved people who follow every rule change nothing.

While I am speaking about the issue of challenging the status quo, I also want to holler out to Texas Tiny Houses who on their Facebook wall, are currently speaking out not just about the way that we live, the waste that we produce and offering people alternatives, but who also began to speak out about the legalization of marijuana.  While, I am not a smoker myself; as a matter of fact I am nearly deathly allergic to all aspects of the hemp plant.  I still believe that banning it is as silly as banning chamomile tea – BUT… it does not matter what I believe!

What I mean is that even though I don’t always agree with those who are protesting, and even though we do not always believe the same things, I am glad that there are people who stand up for change!  I am glad that we (still) live in a democracy and I am really glad to be recognized as a person.

I can make this post and make these comments only because we have democracy here in Canada, and I want to be among those who care about protecting it.

Thanks again to these late great women who have changed our lives!  xo L


“Never retreat, never explain, never apologize–get the thing done and let them howl.” ~ Nellie McClung

Categories: Friendship, Open your eyes, Rules, Tiny House Ontario, View | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Harvest Waste

This year was such a terrible growing year owing to the drought that gripped our area along with so many others.  Now the frost warnings have now started in this region so the food that was growing had to be harvested and brought in.  I have picked off all the peppers, squash, tomatoes and cut down the basil and swiss chard.  I got bags of food even though the season was not great owing I believe to the late rains.  Oddly, the melons did not produce a single fruit, but now… too late, the plants have loads of small round beginnings.  I guess if the frost does not hit then perhaps I will get something of them in the Indian Summer.  The food is now in Hamilton with me, all safely hand processed and tucked away in my root cellar and freezer.  Tonight I am going to caramelize the immature squash and onion then throw in some green tomatoes and stir this into some buckwheat pasta for supper.  Use up what did not mature.  Should be sweet and sour and hopefully interesting.

Between the rounds of cooking that went on yesterday I caught up on a lot of reading and news.  Among the items that I found interesting was a blog out of Tennessee called Dreaming Smaller in which a young man who has had a  catastrophic injury shares his plans and concerns about downsizing their home (for he and his family).  The land is where his family home, long ago burned out was situated.   In the long grass there hides a copperhead snake nesting site, so you never know when one of them will wiggle out of the grass and bite… These bites hurt a lot, he assures, but are rarely fatal… (!!!)  With this said, I know I am not the only Canadian who finds the idea of living near a poison snake pretty darn scary.  On a chance cafe meeting a young Australian tourist told me “Canadians have a weird national obsessive fear of poison snakes, every single one of you asks about them.”  With this in mind, I thought you might also like to check his site out.

Among the usual tragic news of accidents and shootings, the news out of Canada that I find most shocking and disgusting is the story of the “Peas Garden“.  This small garden was started on May 1, 2012 in Queen’s Park and maintained in all summer by about a hundred volunteers.  The food was intended for low income persons and the community was to have a harvesting party on September 29th, but on the eve of the harvest, the City Parks Director Richard Ubbens sent City Employees to rip it up and sod it over.  This was done without warning the group.  The food was all destroyed, the heirloom plants plucked.  The opportunity for food bank users to have this healthy locally grown food was callously removed.  This in a year which anyone connected to growing food will know was not ideal.  This in a time when food banks cannot keep up, this story really sickens me!  There is nothing, and I mean nothing that enrages me more than wastefulness and mean spiritedness toward the disadvantaged.

Food for thought… When did Canada get so turned upside down?

Categories: Drought, Environmentalism, Food, Forest, Ontario, Open your eyes, Rules, View | 3 Comments