Cabin Country: Family Island

  • Article by: Submitted by Mike Peluso | Minneapolis
  • Updated: July 5, 2013 - 10:56 AM

Peluso’s cabin gathers the setting sun on Lake Vermilion.

Photo: Provided by Mike Peluso,

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Our cabin has graced an island on the western end of Lake Vermilion for 73 years, and it has been in our family now for nearly half a century. Three generations of us have listened to the midnight concerts of loons, made s’mores over fires in the massive granite fireplace, played countless games of gin rummy, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit, and read a whole library’s worth of books.

Built in 1940 and called Duckhaven, it is haven now to more bald eagles than ducks (facts that might be related). We’ve been going there since the early ’60s: Mom, Dad, eight kids and assorted dogs. In those early days, it was owned by a friend of Dad’s, and the place was just on loan to us. When his friend passed away, Dad bought it.

Relatively little of importance has changed over the decades. We’ve had power and phone via underwater cables since the late ’80s, so the gaslights go unused and the sauna is electric instead of wood-fired. And the 1930s vintage generator Dad tinkered over for hours to keep running is long gone. But most of the décor visible in 1960s photos is still there.

There’s a lot of maintenance on a log cabin and log boathouse, but there also are now multiple families of us to share the expense. One brother seems to pull much of the maintenance duty, aided by occasional “work weekends” when we all try to help.

Mom and Dad are gone, but our ownership continues in a trust; we each kick in a fixed amount each year, and draw names at Christmas for the order of selecting our family’s week of island time the next summer.

The rest of the May-October season, plus the occasional winter visit by snowshoe, is open to any of us. As more of us near retirement, the competition for that time might ramp up.


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  • Peluso’s mother and sister Jean playing chess in the ’70s.

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