Continental Cordwood Conference 2011  

                                      University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Canada June 11-12, 2011   
This was the first sight we encountered as we crossed the border from North Dakota into Manitoba. Hundreds of wind turbines turn in the 70 mph “breeze.”

The Conference started with a three-day cordwood workshop from June 8-10 at the Alternative Village at U of Manitoba. The Alternative Village was founded by the engineering department to establish a vehicle for research on renewable energy and alternative building materials.
Hempcrete mortar and insulation CCC11.jpg
A building framework was erected by the engineering graduate students. It was approximately 12′ x 16′ but because it contains many purposely engineered, whimsical irregular angles that is certainly not the actual square footage.

The workshop crew (below) listens intently to instructor Richard Flatau.
CCC11 U of Manitoba Cordwood Kiosk workshop Rich, Cliff, Olle.jpgDr. Kris Dick, Cliff Shockey, and Richard & Becky Flatau served as instructors. 17 students came from the graduate engineering program and from around the world: Sweden, Iran, Honduras, and many parts of Canada.   We called one group the Fab Five (which is slang for The Fabulous Five) who bonded and worked closely with one another to offer support and inspiration. One gentleman changed his whole building design during the workshop.CCC11 and participant.jpg

The building (which will be used as an Entrance Kiosk to the Alternative Village) is to be a model of research for cordwood. The strategy was to build and demonstrate as many different cordwood styles, mortars and types of walls as possible. We tried:
•     Hemp hurds in the mortar and insulation (which effectively replaced the sawdust). 
•     Traditional sawdust mortar & sawdust insulation
•     Cellulose mortar & cellulose insulation
•     Double wall with hemp hurd mortar
•     Cob and cordwood on the west section
Cliff mortaring
Cliff Shockey demonstrates the double wall technique while rocking his pink shirt and yellow gloves.
Bottle ends were placed in the walls, along with stones, dimensional lumber and a metal bottle-end with the initials of each participant hand-stamped. Three days of building, discussion and conversation produced a cohesive team that enjoyed working and learning together.
CCC11 U of Manitoba Cordwood Kiosk workshopa
The Workshop Team

The Cordwood Conference was coupled with the engineering department’s annual Design Day Conference and in keeping with that tradition, the Saturday portion of the conference was an amalgamation of topics: strawbale, hempcrete, recycling, green roof, green energy and cordwood. Each registrant had an opportunity to sample three of the six formats. We then moved to the Alternative Village to see first-hand the research that was taking place. Cordwood demonstrations were conducted with double-wall and single-wall mortars. We were also able to see the original U of M stackwall building from the mid-70’s.

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                                                        Cordwood Conference Papers 2011 
                                  Available at the Online Cordwood Bookstore in ebook format.

On Sunday we got down to the business of cordwood presentations from the Cordwood Conference Papers 2011.   There was a video on slip-forming with double-wall cordwood, presentations on cordwood in Sweden, special effects, Paper Enhanced Mortar, double wall + balewall, community-constructed cordwood, a cordwood cottage garden shed, engineering perspectives, and lessons learned. A special powerpoint tribute was shown about the life of Jack Henstridge (the Godfather of Cordwood), in whose memory the conference was held. 
The presentations were portions of the 130-page Cordwood Conference Papers 2011. The Papers are the latest information in the ever-evolving field of cordwood.  All things that have a beginning, have an ending, and the ending to this Conference was very magical because we were able to visit two cordwood/stackwall + balewall homes. Since we personally could only visit one home, we went to Clint and Cindy Cannon’s double wall and balewall hybrid home. It was absolutely gorgeous. It brought the conference to a most harmonious conclusion since we journeyed during the five days, metaphorically, from cordwood construction theory to hands-on building practice, to discussion/debate/analysis of the various wall & mortar types; we witnessed impressive cordwood PowerPoint presentations and finally, we arrived at the gestalt of being able to see the whole process in a beautifully constructed cordwood home.
In my humble opinion, the marriage of double-wall with balewall makes perfect sense on the cold, windy Canadian prairie. The conference was enlightening, engaging, exciting and well worth the expenditure of time and effort. I liken it to a positive camp experience where the friends made are forever in one’s heart.

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Richard Flatau & Cliff Shockey with peeled log ends.

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Dr Kris (black jacket) leads the way.

(Below)  Pictures and drawings of the double wall and strawbale wall home of Clint and Cindy Cannon in Antelope Valley Manitoba.

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The drawing of the double wall cordwood, foundation, and roof placement.  

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                                                          Cordwood in the Cannon’s kitchen.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.
If you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at  
Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:
Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Workshop DVD (2018),  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print 2017) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their Online Cordwood Bookstore.  The books & DVD are also available as ebooks for a quick and easy shipping free download.
   The picture below is the Cordwood Workshop Video that will show you how to build a best practices cordwood home.
Cordwood Workshop DVD 3
These are the 30 menu sections from the Cordwood Workshop DVD.
DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2
   If you would like more information, please visit
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