Belly of the Whale Sauna


Luc Beauparlant built his first sauna in 1996 at Nitinat Lake on the west side of Vancouver Island. Later that year, while on an art expedition with Boreal Art/Nature, he built a second one on the shores of Henderson Lake; the area gets over 200 inches of rainfall a year. It was built entirely out of driftwood from the lake and later covered with earth and stones. It was 9´ deep, 7´ wide, 5´ tall. After Luc framed the rafters, a friend came by and said, “Hey, it looks like a whale’s rib cage.”

Photo-1-Henderson-Lake_BC-A Photo-3-Henderson-Lake_BC-A

I asked if it was still there. “No,” he said, “it disappeared after a 10-foot spring tide.”— back to the lake. I told him this was kind of like my favorite house of all time (see pp. 36–41) burning to the ground a year or so after I photographed it. “Well,” Luc said, “we’re all just passing through.”


Luc assembled this sauna in his studio in Quebec (exterior above; interior below). Since the walls are rounded, he couldn’t use tongue-and-groove, so he used 2 × 4s on edge, re-planing the edges of each one. It’s joined with 4˝ screws (pre-drilled) and comes apart in panels. Dimensions: 11′ deep, 9′ wide, 6′ high.


Luc grew up on a farm (potatoes and chickens) in Quebec. “The theme of the earth has always been in me,” he said, “starting with digging potatoes.” He started building things from an early age on the farm, eventually trained as a visual artist, and worked for about ten years off and on as a tree planter in British Columbia. In 1998 he met his British Columbian wife Christine in Quebec. “There’s always been this love affair between the two provinces,” says Christine. Quebecers come to British Columbia to plant trees and pick fruit and end up falling in love with the land and the people — and vice versa.


The framing materials for this next Quebec sauna were rejects in the woods. “I’ve always wanted to make things round … because the world is so straight,” says Luc. These pieces are crooked, therefore of no use to a sawmill. Luc got permission from other landowners to “ … go look for ribs in the woods.”


Dimensions: 12′ deep, 9′ wide, 7′ high. The sheathing is cedar from a small homemade sawmill.

See Luc’s website: (currently inactive)
Cached version:…

BPC-72W From Builders of the Pacific Coast

2 Responses to Belly of the Whale Sauna

  1. Oh MY, that is truly glorious…I don’t know that I’d want to come out for about a week!

  2. caribemjJ says:

    Just amazing, and what a great philosophy as well. ‘We’re all just passing through.’ Indeed.

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