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The Tilt: Vertical-Log Construction in Newfoundland (O’Dea)

Shane O’Dea begins his piece for Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture by describing the difference between vernacular architecture, permanent structures specific to a culture, and sub-vernacular architecture, impermanent and subordinate structures often disappearingĀ  from culture without comment. In Newfoundland & Labrador, vertical-log construction is one ubiquitous but little-studied (at least in 1982) example. Vertical-log structures in Newfoundland and Labrador include tilts, “unrinded logs set in the ground,” and full-studded structures, “roughly squared [logs] set on a sill” (55).

O’Dea looks to northern Europe and New England for similar structures and precedents, but finds that only in Newfoundland did vertical-log structures remain common even into the 20th century. Since there is little evidence of vertical-log construction’s popularity in England or France, O’Dea concludes that the technique was either a concurrent invention of the French and English in North America, owing to the abundance of resources, or one borrowed from aboriginals. Its persistence here, he writes, can be attributed to the fact that Newfoundlanders had been full-studding for 200 years by the time they began building permanent structures. In other areas, where permanent structures were adopted much earlier, full-studding had quickly fallen out of favour.