For a quarter-century, Ken and Marilyn Douglas have relied on the Lowlander Fire Starter to chase away the evening chill and answer a chorus of “There’s nothing to doooo,” all in one convenient brown-paper package.
Back in the early ’80s, the idea was simple: Hand son Andrew and daughter Emily paper grocery bags and have them collect small twigs and fallen birchbark from their Wasaga Beach lot. The kids filled the bags about a third full with a loose assemblage of kindling, then stowed them in a covered porch.
At fire time, Ken would stuff a Lowlander (named in honour of the family’s Scottish heritage and parsimonious nature) into the firebox, add larger pieces of kindling and stove wood, and pull open the bag to get a handy surface for ignition. “It’s a very fast and efficient fire starter,” he says, adding that the kindling in the bag has to be about the size of a couple of bricks. “One match, and you’ve got a fire.”
Times have changed, though, and large paper bags aren’t as common as they once were. Ken now hoards sacks from garden centres and hardware stores. And after the kids grew up, he had to oversee assembly himself. The good news is four-year-old granddaughter Annie is training as a kindling collector, and her sister, Teagan, 1, and cousins, Chase, 2, and Reece, also 1, promise a solid future for Lowlander production