A Lakeside Eco-Retreat

The upper section is for living, the lower for sleeping

When Jon and Gillian Kirkwood, a biotech consultant and a finance exec who live near Yonge and Eglinton, purchased their Upper Stoney Lake property in 2015, they envisioned building a cottage that blended effortlessly into the natural landscape. “I grew up camping on Georgian Bay and developed a strong appreciation of nature,” says Jon. They hired designers Coryn Kempster and Julia Jamrozik, who came up with two stacked boxes, the upper a living space, the lower for sleeping, both nestled against the rock shield. The cottage is comfortable when it’s just the couple and their 11-year-old daughter but can also easily host up to 20 guests for large family reunions. The sawtooth roof means solar panels can be oriented south and skylights north. The skylights open for increased airflow. All power to the cottage is electric for seamless integration with the solar panels. An efficient wood-burning stove provides extra warmth in winter: The concrete floors are stained black upstairs to attract the sun. The plywood walls are natural downstairs but whitewashed upstairs to reflect sunlight around the interior: By bridging the two structures with open space underneath, rainfall flows freely to the lake. A shaded walkway in front of the main windows blocks the high sun in the summer and lets the lower light in in winter:  

The Green Guide

Part 1: The sustainability sisters—Toni and Lin Sappong, zero-wasters since March 2018

Part 2: The diaper warriors—Ryan Dyment and Emily Hunter, zero-wasters since January 2015

Part 3: The queen of green—Meera Jain, zero-waster since March 2018

Part 4: A sustainable sanctuary in Leslieville

Part 5: A lakeside eco-retreat

Part 6: A natural oasis in Midtown

Part 7: How one super turned his building into a miraculously low-waste condo

Part 8: Incredible bulk—four packaging-free shops

Part 9: Supernova Ballroom—the low-waste cocktail bar

Part 10: “I went green—maybe a little too green

Part 11: The green shopping guide—guilt-free goodies for climate-conscious consumers


This story originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of Toronto Life magazine. To subscribe, for just $29.95 a year, click here.