Rob “The Tireman” is a charming and kind man in his sixties with a white beard and a booming laugh. He is a self-described “stubborn old man living in the forest.” And he is looking for others to join him.
What brought Rob to a remote piece of unorganized land near Hearst, Ontario?
“I ended up here because I went broke fixing my cottage. I bought a cottage in 2017 and started rebuilding it, but COVID affected my finances toward the end and I did not have funds to finish my project. I couldn’t live surrounded by unfinished work. I started falling into a depression.”
Faced with the chaos of ongoing construction that he was not able to complete because his bank stopped funding the renovations, Rob battled other demons as well.
“I have a history of alcoholism and I’ve been sober now for many years. But, just recently in 2017, all the corner stores where I lived started selling alcohol. Every time I walked into the store, I was seeing the alcohol there on the left hand side. It’s there and you see it every time you walk by and you’re depressed. I started slipping back. And I stopped myself because I promised I would never live that way again. So, I said, “If I don’t create change, nothing changes.” So I created change.”
“If I don’t create change, nothing changes. So I created change.”
“I put the cottage and my car up for sale and said, “I’m gonna have to find somewhere where I can live in a container building.” I’ve been following container buildings for a long time. I had a towing company in the 90s and I actually built a truck trailer into an office. I couldn’t put a container home just anywhere, so I had to find an unincorporated township. So that’s what led me to this spot.”
It wasn’t easy to find unorganized land that was accessible, physically and financially. Much of the land that Rob initially found was landlocked with no access roads. Finally, he located a piece of land on an outdated website that had been for sale three years ago. It had access to a main road and was 63km away from a town – Hearst, Ontario.
“I found this parcel of land that is 5.75 acres. Right away, I thought this would make a great place for a tiny house community. When I came up to visit the land, it was a different story. It was horrible-looking to me. It was just awful. You can see it on the first video for my tiny town. I almost didn’t buy it because of how I felt. But, I said, “This stubborn old man ain’t gonna give up. Somehow I can make this work.” And now I love it.”
“This stubborn old man ain’t gonna give up. Somehow I can make this work.”
This stubborn man didn’t give up. Rob is no stranger to hard work and determination. He has already invested a lot of time and money into making his tiny home community dream a reality. And his hope is that others will come make it their home as well.
“I hired multiple companies to clear it out, put in a gravel driveway and mulch the tiny home spots. It was over $30,000 in total, on top of the cost of the land. Now there is a camping spot carved out for each one of the slots. Anyone who comes will have their own spot surrounded by trees. Once I have a well put in, it will feed the whole property with water.”
“I can’t wait to have potluck dinners here and BBQs all summer. You don’t need a big group of people to have a great time. Just good people. We are going to have excellent times.”
“I hope this will be a place for kids to play. It’s not going to happen overnight. But if everybody chips in to help, I will give up ⅓ of my one acre to clear out and put up a playground. I can’t wait to have potluck dinners here and share stories about work you’re doing and things like that. And all summer we’re going to have BBQs. You don’t need a big group of people to have a great time. Just good people. We are going to have excellent times.”
Excellent times are just around the corner for Rob because already, he has several of his 6 lots taken. People are coming for the lifestyle that initially attracted Rob himself.
“You can fish, you can hike, you can enjoy the nature.”
“All around, it’s lakes, lakes, lakes. Every one of the roads leads to lakes. I haven’t travelled to them all yet because I’ve been busy. But, I went to Rabbit Lake and the phone service is full bars there. I have no cell service here. So, that’s where I go to use my phone. It’s a beautiful place to make phone calls.”
Rob doesn’t have cell service, but he does have a great internet connection which allowed us to have a video call with no problems. He maintains a lively Youtube channel and a Facebook page about his budding community. Other than that, Rob is busy building and settling in
“I haven’t had time to explore very much, because I’ve been working, building, and preparing wood. I want to build a nice community for good companionship, good collaboration. We can go together to explore the Crown Land that is behind the property. I can see on Google Maps that there is a stream there. We can enjoy our serenity.”
Rob is happy where he is. The area has everything he needs and nothing that he doesn’t need.
“There isn’t a lot of consumer stuff here. There’s no Walmart or anything like that. But whatever you need is here. There is a Home Hardware, a building center.”
“I love it. It’s quiet. I left my keys in the truck for two weeks. They were still there. I feel safer here than I ever have in my entire life.”
“I feel safer here than I ever have in my entire life.”
Rob ends on a note of mystery. “The town sign says, “Hearst is different.” It is.”
I guess, if you want to know why it’s different, you’ll have to go look for yourself. To connect with Rob, email him at [email protected]