The Legacy of Home

Helping people realize their dreams, the Wrightman family builds heirloom homes—and creates their own healthy oasis—in Ontario.

  • Rob Wrightman and his family have created their perfect oasis in Ontario, Canada.
    Photo by Steve Wharton
  • The Wrightmans designed their own dream home with an open kitchen and a long bar-style countertop, which enables the family to make meal preparation a group activity.
    Photo by Steve Wharton
  • Switching to a vegan diet has led the Wrightmans to incorporate more homegrown produce into their cooking.
    Photo by Steve Wharton
  • Mark Wrightman (standing) counts pasta dishes among his culinary specialties.
    Photo by Steve Wharton
  • The Wrightmans take their rescue dogs, Lola (left) and Denver, hiking in summer and snowshoeing in winter.
    Photo by Steve Wharton
  • A space-efficient island and nearby pantry house condiments, linens and more.
    Photo by Steve Wharton
  • A stunning bath alcove is one of the Wrightman home’s most luxurious features.
    Photo by Steve Wharton
  • A simple wood vanity adheres to the home’s aesthetic of rustic elegance.
    Photo by Steve Wharton
  • "Dovetail Corners” help maintain True North Log Homes’ durability—designed so all angles lead out, they ensure water can’t remain at the joint.
    Photo by Steve Wharton

Growing up in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada, deep in the heart of the rugged and breathtaking Muskoka region—named the No. 1 pick for “10 Best Trips of Summer” and one of the “100 Places That Can Change Your Child’s Life” by National Geographic Traveler—is a guaranteed way to develop a lifelong passion for the beauty of nature. In their idyllic log home, Rob and Marilyn Wrightman raised sons Mark and Kyle next to a 200-acre parcel of land with trails for hiking in summer and snowshoeing in winter; lakes and rivers for kayaking and canoeing; snowmobile trails; and a 150-foot gorge with a waterfall.

Mark says growing up among the natural beauty gave him not only an appreciation of nature, but also “an appreciation for home.” Although many people grow up in the city and dream of retiring in nature, Mark feels he got a jump-start on the relaxation, serenity and healthfulness of living in connection with the cycles of the planet. And creating that dream—of living in harmony with nature—is exactly what his family provides to others through their business, True North Log Homes.

Building a Company

In the late ’70s, Rob’s father, Ron, came up with several ideas to improve the efficiency of log homes. Popular for their aesthetic appeal, log cabins were notoriously expensive to maintain and heat. Because wood is a natural material that can shrink over time, as a building material it often caused problems in upkeep and airtightness. According to his son, Ron possesses a remarkable ability to see the problems with a machine or building technique and figure out how to solve them—and between them, Rob and Ron have the numbers to prove it as the holders of more than 18 patents in building and machinery.

His fix to the efficiency problem revolutionized the way log homes were built, and enabled people to build using this natural and beautiful material without having to plan for additional expenses to maintain the home. The result was the eventual founding of True North Log Homes, which Rob and Ron ran together until Ron’s retirement in 1996.

Thanks to the longevity of wood as a building material, and the superefficient building techniques they use, the Wrightmans consider themselves in the business of helping people create their dream homes. “It’s an opportunity to leave a legacy,” Rob says. “There are log cabins that are 750 years old in Russia and people are still living in them. You are building something that stands the test of time, whereas stick-frame homes, they’re tearing them down after 30 or 40 years. This is a different mindset.”

Many of their clients are not only creating homes but heirlooms they plan to pass on through the generations of their family. “I would say that’s one of the most rewarding parts of our business,” Mark says. “It’s a huge compliment that someone would choose you to be involved when they’re building their oasis. They’ve chosen you to be part of their heritage.” Marilyn says, because these are people’s dream homes, their experiences with clients often last for many years. They might start researching the idea of building a log home decades before they actually move into the home. “We collaborate with them for so long, the home becomes enriched in our hearts as well as in theirs. It’s a partnership. You spend years sometimes with a client and you gain a relationship. You’re creating their dream.”

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