In this video, we meet Bonnie from Wakefield, Québec, Canada who is living on a gorgeous tiny house boat that is full of character and charm. The River Den (or La Tannière) has custom-made asymmetrical windows, a classic ship’s wheel, antique fireplace, and hand-built furniture — all of which give the boat a warm and cozy feel that makes you feel at home as soon as you step on board. The boat is docked on the shore of the Gatineau River and Bonnie lives in it as often as she can when she’s not renting it out on Airbnb (
The tiny houseboat was designed by Bonnie and her boatbuilding friend, Denis Tremblay, who is known locally as the Wakefield Pirate. Denis and a few of his friends built the boat by hand, including the aluminum frame and the custom windows, the cabinets, and the grill floor in the loft.
The boat is built on 5 pontoons that are designed to provide flotation while still taking on some water to keep the boat weighed down in the water for stability. The pontoons are also designed to freeze in the ice and are made by a local company called Les Quais Navigables (
It’s a 4-season house boat that is fully insulated and has an antique wood burning fireplace to provide heat in winter. For power, they installed a deep cycle marine battery that provides 12-Volt power for the lights, bilge pump, and navigation lights. They have a Separett composting toilet from Sweden ( and a sink that pumps water from the river for washing dishes. For refrigeration, Bonnie uses a cooler with ice, but she might invest in some solar panels so that she can power a proper fridge eventually.
The main floor has a kitchen, toilet, dining room and living room, and upstairs there is cozy a sleeping loft with a grill floor that allows heat to rise through the floor, and sun & dust to travel down to the main level. One of the windows in the loft opens up onto a gorgeous rooftop patio with a cedar deck and has space for some solar panels if/when Bonnie decides she needs them.
The boat has a gas motor and can be taken out on the river which is quite impressive considering it’s size! To make sure the boat was still road worthy, they built a wedge roof over the loft that can be taken apart if Bonnie wants to transport it to a different location. The boat is currently docked in the quaint little town of Wakefield, Québec where there are cute cafes, restaurants and shops right across the street.
If anyone is interested in renting this house boat, check it out on the Airbnb website here:
Thanks for watching!
Mat & Danielle
STAY IN TOUCH!
Music & Song Credits:
All music in this video was composed, performed, and recorded by Mat Dubé of Exploring Alternatives.
I always had this dream about playing on the river as an adult and my dad is a log driver and my grandfather's were log drivers and my great uncles and so they worked on this river and so it's kind of in my blood so I was looking up buying a home and then I was thinking of building a tiny house and I wasn't sure if I was gonna be living around here for a long time so I thought okay tiny house yeah I can move it and then at the time my friend it was the boat builder we were always hanging out in his boats and he just encouraged me to build a tiny house boat so I was really impulsive I said okay fine let's do it and like a few days later I bought the pontoon so welcome to the river den we're in Wakefield Quebec and this is the gatineau River come on board all the lights are run on 12 volts and I just basically have a deep cycle boat battery in here and it usually lasts around a month have a little bubble pump a built pump and it just draws river water and the river water is really clean it's not drinking water but it's really nice and clean to do dishes with and to brush your teeth and stuff and then under here is where the pump is just a small little pump hundred dollars yeah everything was custom built all the cabinets and the windows were even not built we just bought the big laughs and it's double pane with argon and we built the frames this is just a little butane burner in the winter time when I have the fire going sometimes I make toast right on here you can take the top right off and put a frying pan or a pot to boil water or just warm up food it works really fast and really well and I just use the botom to make coffee there's no refrigeration system yet and that probably would be the thing that pushes me over the edge to get solar yeah I just use a cooler with ice for now here are the switches for all the utilities right now so there's the the pump and these are navigation lights for the boat it is a boat that moves and there's a 60 horsepower motor on the back over here is an extra storage area and the shower this is a bathroom we recently invested in the separate and this is a composting toilet and it's a waterless toilet so it separates the liquids from the solids and it has a really quiet 12 volt pump and it's great because you can't hear it and it it dries out the solids really quickly and turns it into compost and there's no order whatsoever over here we have a deck in the back with the gas motor and this is storage for the gas tanks and the anchors this is a grill floor and it's a great feature for the wintertime because the heat rises through the floor and also the dirt falls to the first level so on the loft upstairs it's only about five feet high and you don't have to crouch down and do any kind of like sweeping or cleaning because the dust just falls through the floor we call this Latanya which means the Wolf Den this is a regular queen sized bed and just some storage shelves these are old crates some extra blankets and stuff and then out here is a little door to go on the rooftop patio come on up so this is the rooftop patio this wood is cedar and I was thinking about extending the deck and having some railings over here we had left this space originally for the solar panels to fit so we'll see we'll see what happens with that so there's a really interesting feature about the roof of this boat when we are designing it I was really pushing the limits to have it as big as I could and still be able to drive it on the road we got around it by making this wedge piece that so this roof actually lifts up I'm not going to hurt my back and show you but it does lift up so whenever we want to move it on the road take the boat out of the water this window comes out and then this gets pulled onto the roof and just screwed down in place and then this comes right down to here so then it's 13 feet high the base was made with four 30-foot pontoons now they're not regular pontoons they're built with ABS and inside there's foam and there's a bit of space between it so actually water comes into the pontoons to hold it down into the water so that it's really steady and right before the project was finished before it left the yard like a week before it was done we decided to buy one more pontoon and both it up so now it's on five pontoons and it has 20,000 pounds of flotation and the pontoons are built to freeze in the ice then there was an aluminum base built and we had to go with aluminum because we couldn't risk the boat shifting at all with this the change of temperature and then it's a wood frame so this houseboat was built starting last August and the project was completed in November Denis Tremblay is the name of the boat builder and he's known around this town as the Wakefield pirate when I decided to build this I figured it was a great investment because I could rent it out by the night on Airbnb it's such a treat to be able to let people experience this kind of living when I'm not renting it this houseboat I live on it it's great to wake up on the water and just jump in the river first thing in the morning and it's a really peaceful way to live