OTTAWA–When Joseph Dupuis decided to spend the summer of 2012 building a cabin in the woods out of three shipping containers, he never realized his project would go viral.
That’s exactly what happened to him when his photographer friend, Japhet Alvarez, posted photos of Dupuis’ home on the popular web-site Reddit around midnight May 31.
By 10 a.m. the next morning, the photos had gone viral.
“I was in meetings all morning and (Alvarez) was like, ‘Joe, you need to do something about it, this thing’s got 750,000 views!’ It went viral really fast,” Dupuis, 28, told Postmedia Network.
The turn of events was unexpected for Dupuis, who says he isn’t a Reddit user himself.
“I don’t have Netflix, I don’t have a flat-screen television, I don’t have a microwave, I don’t have a kettle,” he said.
Dupuis has chosen to live a holistic lifestyle in the woods in the Ottawa Valley.
The idea came up in 2010 while he was a student in the mechanical engineering technology program at Algonquin College.
“I dropped out after two years because, to be honest, I was frustrated with being a broke student and living the college lifestyle,” Dupuis said.
“My dad had just bought a piece of property in the Carp area and I pitched him the idea of building my dream cabin and he said OK and we started that day.”
Dupuis said the land his 365-square-foot cabin sits on is considered farmland, but because there are no crops or farm animals on site, property taxes are very low.
He spent $20,000 building the house, and $30,000 designing and building a solar-powered system for his six lights and heating.
He said his cost of maintaining the home in an average year is about $300.
A lot of heat in the winter comes from firewood, which he also trades with his neighbour Tim, in exchange for water running through his cabin.
The idea to use shipping containers, he said, was inspired by a style of log cabin built by lumberjacks in the 1940s.
Dupuis, who had been studying the containers for three years, decided they would fit the model well.
Dupuis lived in his house, secluded in the valley, for two years before taking an apartment in the city.
He plans to move back this August.
While he never expected his home to become so popular, he hopes to use the exposure to help others wanting to live a minimalist lifestyle.
“I’m about living holistically with nature and building a community of people who think the same way,” Dupuis said.
He hopes an upcoming Kickstarter campaign will allow him to help others get started living the same way.
“It’s a very humbling lifestyle,” Dupuis said.
As for the whereabouts of his cabin, Dupuis says while he is not a recluse, he enjoys his privacy and would rather keep the location secret.
“You would never find it, it’s so far back in the bush.”
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