Wood Work & Draw Bridge

With the steal framing completed and winter arriving it was up to me now to pick away at the wood work. All of the wood used in the dock build was western red cedar and chemical free. This ensured that no species at risk or their habitats would be impacted by the harsh chemical in pressure treated woods. And visually the cedar would have a more natural look, even from underneath it. I sourced the 2 x 10" cedar sub-floor and 2 x 6" cedar decking from The Wood Shed out of Smithville. I borrowed my Dad's trailer and with a few trips had the wood to begin the floor.

The biggest hurdle with the floor was now the weather. Winter had arrived and along with it the cold weather and high winds. On one of the weekends I had to leave due to 90 km/hr gusts coming off of Lake Erie. While carrying a board on the dock a gust of wind just about blew me off, so that was it for the day. During the winter, I was dressed like I was on a snowmobile trip, with about 4 different layers on. Yet, the hands felt it the most, because I couldn't wear heavy gloves when screwing in floor boards.

The winter ice formed a breakwall along Hastings Drive and locked up the shoreline and stopped any water from reaching the dock. Which was a nice break for not worrying about getting wet. Ice mountains formed in the distance, yet they were short lived this winter, since the season was short. I wasn't complaining and was able to get more done then originally expected.

With the help of my Dad, we hammered out the dock floor. My Dad seemed to enjoy reminiscing about helping his Dad (Howard Corke) replace some of the cottage piles many years ago, which we could still see to this day.

Alumifab out of Barrie pre-fabricated a hinged aluminum ramp for the dock using Thruflow decking, which is light weight and very durable. With an evening post-it note design the ramp turned into a draw bridge within a day. I get a kick out of it every time its raised and lowered.

The dock was now easily accessible, with no more ladders and flimsy boards (much safer to get on and off with tools now!).

With the height of the dock being significant due to the extreme water level surges in a 1:100 storm, it was necessary to put a solid railing on for safety concerns. The height of the top deck boards is over 3.5 feet above the 1:100 year high water mark (as per an elevation survey done by Kim Husted out of Tillsonburg). So while the dock at points you can walk under and appears very tall, it is built this way to withstand the rare storm systems which increase Lake Erie’s water levels significantly. The boat lift to be installed soon is on the end and allows the boat to be clear of any large waves when moored at the dock.

With the help of a friend we were able to complete the cedar railing relatively quickly. Cedar pickets (Home Depot) were used for the north side of the railing and glass panels purchased from Lowes were used on the lake side.

The dock had really taken shape now, and I loved the colour of the natural cedar freshly installed. Too bad it wouldn't stay that colour... and I wasn't willing to stain it.

I had many area residence stopping to talk and congratulate me on the build and have made many friends as a result. Several offered me their house to get warm in while I was building it over winter, along with several drinks and food. It has truly been a heart warming sense of community to experience this.

Lots have asked me during the build why I didn’t build further out into the water? Due to my family losing a cottage I was very cautious to keep the dock only as far out as necessary for my 16 foot aluminum to access the lake. My thoughts were the further out I went, meant potentially more risk and damage from ice dams in the winter thaw and large tree logs or stumps damaging the piles brought in by a heavy wind. With historical weather patterns the dock is in the water from late spring to early fall. Then the water recedes out, freezes and is away from the ice's harmful power (cross fingers).

The final touches of the dock were next and Spring is right around the corner. Here comes the warm air!

The Wood Shed


6566 Sixteen Rd, Smithville, ON L0R 2A0

Phone: (905) 957-3933


Darren Leitch




Thruflow Decking


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