Joel Allen actually built the super-duper top-secret tree house we all dreamed about as kids. He calls it the HemLoft, and it’s perched among a grove of old-growth trees on a hillside that overlooks the Whistler wilderness.

Natalie Blackmur

Joel Allen actually built the super-duper top-secret tree house we all dreamed about as kids. He calls it the HemLoft, and it’s perched among a grove of old-growth trees on a hillside that overlooks the Whistler wilderness. Joel, a former software developer-turned-carpenter, constructed the HemLoft over the span of three years, used free materials when he could, and built on Crown lands.

Yeah, that means he built his tree house on space that's owned by the Commonwealth, and it's why Joel kept the HemLoft a secret while he was building it—he didn’t think Canadian authorities would take kindly to construction on land that wasn't exactly his.

Why’d he do it? “There were no practical motives or profound meanings,” Joel says, “The driving force behind the whole thing was a simple, yet inexorable desire to build something cool.”And cool it is. A lily-pad step path leads to the egg-shaped structure, where there’s sleeping space for two. There’s a deck for al fresco cooking and dining, and a built-in desk and bookcase. Spiral steps wind around the tree to the roof windows where you can peer down at the black bears rustling (far) below.

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Anyone can visit the HemLoft—if you can find it—but it's in danger of being torn down now that Joel has gone public (the HemLoft was published in the April '12 issue of Dwell). You can weigh in on what should be done with the HemLoft on Joel’s website where he’s sharing his story with the world. And thank goodness he is—some secrets are just too good to keep.

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