OK, I had always understood that Canadians build tree forts with little tiny fridges in them if, and only if, they have a million dollars. But Vancouver-area software developer Joel Allen built his insanely beautiful HemLoft when he went financially bust. And because he was broke, he built it by hand, illegally, on government-owned land.

This video of Allen in his secret treehouse makes it look idyllic:

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But the story of the HemLoft’s birth involves bears, government helicopters, a broken rib (the treehouse, not Allen, but it was a near miss), and more adventure than you can shake a precious little circular wooden stepping-stone at.

Allen is trying to figure out what to do with the HemLoft now that it’s complete — since it’s in government forest, he doesn’t technically own it, but he’s kind of tired of keeping it secret. You can vote for the HemLoft’s fate (my instinct: 1,000 write-in votes for “give it to meeeeeee!”) and see way more material on his website.

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