In Search of a Wood Cook Stove

Image: A Wood Cook Stove.

When we were still living in Prince Rupert, we had become quite interested in getting a wood cook stove as an auxiliary source of heat for the upstairs of our house, and also as a stove which could be used during power outages (which occur frequently in Prince Rupert). After much investigation, we decided that we really liked a stove called the Baker’s Choice – an Amish made stove designed and manufactured in Canada by a company called Suppertime Stoves in Ontario. This stove is a durable, functional (but not fancy) airtight wood stove made from welded steel plate, and has been recommended by many homesteaders, both for heating cabins and as an excellent stove for cooking. However, before we actually purchased a Baker’s Choice stove for our home in Prince Rupert, we decided to sell the house and begin our adventures with simplicity and sustainability.

The concept of a wood cook stove for heating and cooking was not lost in our transition – indeed, it became an even more vital part of our new lifestyle. So, as the building of our cabin became more imminent, we talked to a supplier of Suppertime Stoves in BC, Comfort Time Stoves on Lasqueti Island. On August 30th, we put our money down and purchased our Baker’s Choice stove, sight unseen (I always have to take a deep breath every time I do this). Then we had to wait eight weeks for delivery. We figured the timing would be about right – the stove should arrive on October 31st, just in time to be installed in our newly build cabin.

Well, as you can see from our previous entry, the timing of things didn’t go quite as planned. Indeed, it was the middle of November, rather than the end of October by the time we had a roof on the cabin and were ready to install a stove. In the meanwhile, our stove took the scenic tour of Canada. We anxiously checked for is arrival in Campbell River at the end of October. No stove. A week later – still no stove. No one even seemed to know where the shipment had gotten off to. However, on the 12th of November, a rather sheepish call from Suppertime Stoves in Ontario informed us that the stove had been found and would be ready for pickup in Campbell River the next day. I wonder where it had gotten off to??? Just one of those mysteries of life, and since it hadn’t really incovenienced us, only worried us a bit, I let is go without further investigation.

As we were rather occupied getting the roof on our cabin, we didn’t get to Campbell River to pick up our stove until November 18th. Using the dimensions and specs I had for the Baker’s Choice stove from the internet, I drafted up a list of all the stove pipes, chimney pipes, shielding, and various other components that we would need for the stove installation. Given how far we live from Campbell River, my supply lists have to be as complete as possible – it really sucks when you find that you are one screw short of completing a job! Having not actually seen the stove yet made the job of figuring out how to install it and what would be needed even more challenging.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we finally got to Campbell River. I knew the stove weighed nearly 500 lbs – outweighing both Ken and I put together. I had no idea how we were going to get it into our truck, much less how we were going to get it on the Moody Blue, or up into the cabin. I just trusted that luck would come our way, and we would find a way to do what we needed.

When we arrived at the shipping company, a forklift delivered a large cardboard box on a wooden pallet to the truck. Standing in the frozen mud of the yard, we looked at each other, gauged the dimensions of the back of the truck, and got to work opening the box. We quickly had our first peak at the stove – and then Ken went to work disassembling it into as many little pieces as he could. As he took pieces off the stove, I stowed them in the truck. Finally, we got down to just the firebox. This still weighed the better part of 200 lbs, but was much lighter than the whole stove. At this point, a couple of the friendly employees at the shipping depot, both larger guys, gave us a hand, and with a mighty heave, we had the stove in the truck. The first step was over.

After much running around in Campbell River getting supplies and groceries, we made our return trip to Sayward late in the day, on dark, icy foggy roads. It reminded me in a very emphatic way how late in the season it now was – how we still hadn’t moved into our cabin, and were in fact still many days from being able to do so. Nothing like a stressful late evening drive to make you feel good and depressed! Finally arriving in Kelsey Bay, we left the stove in the back of the truck as a problem to be solved tommorrow, rolled up in our sleeping bag, and fell into an exhaused sleep.

As we pondered how to get the stove aboard the Moody Blue over our morning coffee, we looked out the window and saw some friendly faces. Three of our neighbours from Port Neville had arrived at the dock, on their way to get various supplies. We explained our dilemna, and with some creativity, pieces of wood and cardboard, and a whole lot of raw muscle power, we slid the stove down the dock ramp, up over the Moody Blue’s gunnels, and onto the back deck. I didn’t think we’d be able to do it, but it is amazing what 5 people can do with a coordinated effort. Our friends headed off on their errands, but not before telling us to call them when we got back to our cabin, and they would arrange to get some people down to our site to help move the stove into the cabin. The second step was over.

We didn’t head home that day, as the wind kicked up, and we didn’t want to make a rough crossing with the stove lashed to our back deck. However, the next morning dawned calm, and we were off. The following day, a crew of three came to give us a hand. We decided to balance the stove on the nose plate of the Kipper’s Folly. So, if you can, picture a large herring skiff with a big black stove balanced on its nose. I shuddered, but somehow it stayed there and we were able to tow the skiff to shore. The tide was very high, and we were able to unload the stove directly on our rock ramp leading up to the cabin. Then we slid the stove uphill along planks – it was slighly frosty and the planks were quite slippery, which helped a lot. It was actually quite amusing, with one or the other of us always picking up the last plank and running ahead to get it in position at the front – a grand game of leap frog! With relatively little effort, we got the stove slid right into the cabin. The last step was over! Kudos to our friends from Port Neville. We would have never gotten it done without their help.