These guys want to put a floating sauna on Great Slave Lake

Last modified: January 18, 2018 at 9:23am

“Getting to the sauna is part of the experience.”

If the team behind that sentence has their way, the latest addition to Yellowknife’s houseboat scene will be a… house sauna.

On Wednesday, three local residents revealed their plan to build a fully functioning year-round sauna that floats on Yellowknife Bay.


Thomas Whittaker, Peter Kelly and Tyler Fissel say their waterborne sauna – accessible by canoe or kayak in summer, or by foot or ski in winter – will “promote physical and mental health with a philosophy of free-use and community ownership.”

The trio hopes to raise $20,000 to build the sauna, with the campaign officially beginning on January 31. Once the money is raised and the sauna built, the group promises it’ll be free for the community to use. Their goal is to have the sauna’s floating platform in place by April, and the remaining building work complete by June or July 2018.

Donors can receive a ticket to a live music event on March 31, which is the fundraising campaign’s final day, and have their name immortalized as an etching on the sauna wall.

A floorplan of a floating sauna intended for construction on Yellowknife Bay
A floorplan of the floating sauna design. Handout/Great Slave Sauna Society

The group, which calls itself the Great Slave Sauna Society, promises to construct a wood-fired sauna designed to hold a maximum of six people at once. There will be a small changing room and an outdoor seating area.

Kelly, an intern architect and Yellowknife houseboater who designed the sauna, was inspired by his time in Finland – where he joined a small team of Canadian graduate students building and detailing a public sauna for downtown Helsinki.


“Together,” reads a draft of the group’s website, “we can create something wonderful that belongs to us all, and something that we can all experience.”