Until the end of the 19th Century, the tepee was perfectly adapted to the nomadic lifestyle of various plains people, who moved their dwellings according to the seasons and the comings and goings of the game (mainly buffalo).
The tepee is structured with wood poles (pine or cedar), up to eight metres in length. They are placed in such a manner as to form a circular base narrowing towards the top, where an opening serves as a chimney. The plains tepee was lined with buffalo skins sewn together. Painted motifs on the skins were representative of specific tribes and their spiritual worlds.
The earth house also answered to the need for lodging. Many immigrants to Canada's Western provinces, particularly the prairies, settled in an environment where the only available building material for a house was the soil.
Blocks of earth were cut out of the soil and placed along shallow furrows. The walls were made up of two rows of earth blocks for sturdiness. The interior walls were whitened using paper or a mixture of clay and lime. The roof was generally made of wood boards covered with hay and then earth. These houses usually had an area of 18 x 24 feet.
The log house is representative of the initial pioneer house type going way back to the early days of New France. It had only one room for living space, where all daily activities took place. In some rare cases, there were two rooms, one serving as a bedroom for the parents and the other for all the other daily activities of the family.
The interior walls were covered with boards and the spaces between the logs were stuffed with flax-tow, bark, or a mixture of earth and grass. Once the living conditions of the family had improved, they built a new, more functional house and the log house was turned into an appendage.
Typical Iroquois dwelling, the long house was made of wood poles covered with cedar or elm bark.
Five or six nuclear families of the same maternal line shared the house, living side by side. Each family had its own space. Berths were placed on either side of the house and a few fires burned permanently in the central isle. The fires were used for both cooking and heating, and the smoke went out through holes cut into the roof.
The igloo fascinated Europeans when they first arrived to the New World. It is a perfect illustration of Inuit adaptation to their environment and, particularly, of their only available material, snow.
Pelts are placed all around the interior to insulate the space and prevent the roof from melting from the heat. A hole in the roof ensures ventilation. Generally, a low tunnel leading outside helps to keep the heat inside. The largest igloos can accommodate an entire family during winter and the smallest serve as hunting shelters over short periods.