Man Who Built 'Dream' Cabin By Hand Sued For Illegal Squatting in Woods

When Matt Clarke chronicled his journey building a backwoods log cabin on a YouTube channel, he probably did not realize that the videos would be used against him in court, even as he amassed 100,000 views.

The government of Yukon, the Canadian territory where Clarke decided to create his "dream" home in the woods near Dawson City, sued the YouTuber last week for illegally settling on public land, according to CBC.

Clarke shared his work clearing the land and constructing the cabin in a series of six videos titled "Building Off Grid Log Cabin: Alone in the Yukon."

In a video from March 2021 with nearly 17,000 views, Clarke relished his apparent success with the project. "Isn't it amazing?" he said during a smoke break in front of a log wall. "You can just go out, harvest a bunch of raw materials from the woods, put it all together in the shape of a house and boom, you got a house." He patted himself on the back for "creating a dream with these hands."

In the same video, Clarke said he hoped to inspire others to try similar feats.

"The whole reason I started filming these videos on the canoe trip last summer," he said, "was to try and show people that you can do it too, that all these trips, even those that might seem far-fetched—go up on the Yukon River last-minute before winter, build a cabin and live here and enjoy it—you can do it."

But his viewers may be disincentivized by the territorial government's lawsuit. A petition filed to the Yukon Supreme Court claimed that Clarke had "not provided evidence of any authority to occupy the Site," despite having been notified by government officials that he must vacate, remove his structures and personal property and restore the area to its prior condition, according to CBC.

The land where Clarke settled is within the traditional territory of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, a First Nation government, the lawsuit said. The group's name translates to "people of the river" and its members have lived along the Yukon River for thousands of years.

In Canada, Indigenous Land Claims seek to address wrongs perpetrated against Indigenous peoples and their lands by the federal, provincial and territorial governments. The Canadian government began recognizing these claims in 1973. Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin began negotiating their individual Land Claim in 1991 and their Final Agreement went into effect in 1998.

Newsweek reached out to Clarke for comment.

Man Who Built ‘Dream’ Cabin Sued
A territorial government in Canada has sued Matt Clarke for building his "dream" cabin on public land. Here, a log cabin in the United Kingdom. Tim Graham / Contributor/Tim Graham Photo Library