The New Generation of Landowner: Eric Young
Eric Young is not your traditional woodlot owner. In his 30s, Young’s social media saavy, on-point “lumbersexual” style (yes, it’s a thing) and sleeve of tattoos is what one might generally attribute to today’s hipster urbanites. But, in fact, Young is part of a growing movement by the younger generation to set aside the trials of urbanity for the thrill of tranquility. We talked with Eric about his desire to own a woodlot, his love of nature and the challenges associated with living in the bush.
What started your passion for the outdoors and nature?
I have to give a lot of the credit to my father, Brian. He’s been a naturalist his entire life, and as kids he would bring us along for walks, canoe trips, etc. He still tells stories of throwing me across frozen creeks, hoping I would land feet first, which didn’t happen every time. We were also very fortunate to grow up next to the Gatineau Park, which made for many adventures. A few years back I picked up Michael Henry’s book on Old-Growth Forests which reintroduced trees back into my life. Since then, I have travelled down into southern Ontario to see the magnificent oaks, maples, and beeches. As well, I’ve made the hike into Temagami a few times to visit the old red and white pines.
How did you come to be a landowner?
An opportunity came around a couple years ago, and I purchased a log home in Clayton, Ontario with my wife Chrissie. Around the same time as the home purchase, I saw that there was 46 acres for sale two miles down the road from the home. We were able to purchase both. The acreage was once home to a cabin, though it burned down in 2004. Fortunately, the previous owner had drilled a well and installed a septic system. I recently got the well up and running again thanks to a portable generator and a few plumbing accessories.
What are your goals for your woodlot?
My main goal is to retrieve firewood for our home, as we heat primarily with a woodstove. In addition to heating our home, I have felled a couple of fine hardwood trees that I’ve milled into lumber. In my free time, I enjoy building furniture for our home and for customers. I don’t ever plan on selling the lot. It was logged by the previous owner quite heavily, and I’d like to see it get a chance to fill back in with mature growth. I would love to pass it forward in the family for years to come. It would be great to potentially set up a yurt on the existing cement slab. Perhaps a home away from home or a place for friends and family to stay the night.
Describe your connection to the forest and wood products.
I consider myself very fortunate to own the bush lot. Everyone knows the old saying about land, “they’re not making any more of it”. Fortunately I live far enough off the beaten path that the price of the lot was quite reasonable. My father purchased land years ago and one of his biggest regrets in life was selling it. I love the feeling of walking in the lot and hearing nothing but the squirrels and warblers debating forest politics. I’ve been lucky a few times to hear and see owls, among many other forest dwellers. Working with wood as a hobby, I’m always shocked by the sticker prices of lumber on the shelf. Through milling of my own lumber I’ve been able to not only reduce my costs, but understand the processes of milling and drying.
What advice would you give to a younger landowner who is interested in owning a woodlot?
I think what’s important is patience. You should wait for a property that makes sense to you. I knew a bush lot would serve more purpose to me than a large farm field, though I have some close friends who just purchased a field in hopes of growing their own fruits and vegetables. You also have to stick within your budget. I was fortunate to buy my land through a private lender that allowed me to carry the land as a mortgage. I think one of the biggest hurdles when buying land for most young people is that they don’t have the cash for the purchase. But most importantly, have respect for the land and get out and enjoy it.