101 Ways To End Up In A Canadian Shack

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Name: 101 Ways To End Up In A Canadian Shack
Date(s): December 2001
Moderator(s): Speranza
Founder: Speranza
Type: fanfiction
Fandom: multifandom
URL: http://trickster.org/speranza/ShackedUp.html
Canadian Shack 2011 Collection at AO3
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101 Ways To End Up In A Canadian Shack was a short story challenge created by Speranza in December 2001.

It stemmed from prevalent fanon in due South fandom that had Ray Kowalski and Benton Fraser "shacking up" in northern Canada (sometimes, but not always, literally in a shack[note 1]) after the series finale, Call of the Wild. After Speranza joked about this trend with friends, a number of authors across other fandoms were inspired to place characters in the same situation, and so the 101 Ways challenge was born.

Usually the shack was isolated, and the characters being stuck in a blizzard earned bonus points. Thus, the challenge was an opportunity for deploying tropes like Huddling for Warmth and Bed Sharing. While the original challenge had a strong focus on due South (including several DS crossover works), the submitted stories and vignettes were from many fandoms.

Speranza continued on to moderate similar ficlet challenges with many fandoms united by the use of a theme, including The Inappropriate Elf Challenge and the Tax Shelters challenge.

First Hint of the Phrase

From the author's notes to A Moment of Insight, a due South fanwork from 2001:

There was a moment, during the writing of this story, where I seriously debated retitling my DS page: "Speranza's DS Stories, Or 101 Ways To End Up In A Canadian Shack." Cause face it, that seems to be what I'm doing lately. I still may take that on as a challenge, and Resonant, brilliant woman that she is, has been helping me brainstorm:[1]

The Original Challenge: 2001

Terri: The Ubiquitous Canadian Shack — every fandom should have one.

This sentence summarizes The Story of This Story, which is a chat log that Speranza preserved with the initial brainstorming for the Canadian Shack ficlet challenge idea. The chat was between a few people including Speranza (using Ces or Cesca in the chat), Anna S, Julad, linbot, Mia from MRKS, resonant, and Terri. It included the participants imagining various pairings in a shack, brainstorming where the shack should be located geographically, and making many jokes about “shacking up”.

The “Shacked Up page with all the original stories, titled 101 Ways To End Up In A Canadian Shack: A series of short-short stories and subtitled with the quote from Terri regarding the ubiquity of a Canadian shack, gathered 62 fandoms and 30 authors. All the authors provided bios[2], and Speranza stored all these pages on trickster.org, where some of the challenge authors also had fan sites, such as Speranza herself, with Arduinna, Kass, Katrina Bowen, and resonant.

The fandoms ranged from Angel to X-Men: the fandom listing offers an interesting glimpse into what was popular, current, and beloved in this particular corner of media fandom in 2001.

10 years later when Speranza announced the anniversary challenge, she summarized the way the challenge gained steam in 2001:

So ten years ago, at the end of 2001, I was hanging around in a chatroom and we were talking about how all Due South stories seemed to end up in a Canadian shack. And then we decided that, really, all fandoms ought to end up in a Canadian shack. And so we started brainstrorming these little ficlets, half kidding, but then the writers in that room told their friends and suddenly everyone was sending me these little Canadian shack ficlets, partly because it became a thing about putting crazy or unlikely pairings and fandoms (not just X Files and Highlander and Quantum Leap but Hannibal and Iron Chef and Moonlighting) into shacks in the middle of the Northwest Territory or whatever. And I got like 100 of them (101 to be exact) in a matter of, like, three days. And I put them all up on my site as 101 Ways To End Up In A Canadian Shack.[3]

The Tenth Anniversary Challenge: 2011-2012

In January 2012, Tzikeh reminded Speranza that it was the 10th anniversary of the "Shack Thing" in December 2011. Speranza made a Dreamwidth post summarizing the original challenge’s conception, then announced:

... it would be fun to do an anniversary edition. I've opened up an Canadian Shack 2011 collection on the AO3 and I'd like to invite you--any of you, all of you! bring your friends! - to come play! Write a short (around 500 words-ish) story putting your fandom/characters/pairing of choice into a Canadian shack! I think it would be particularly fun to get fandoms represented that didn't even exist in 2001, though old favorites are always welcome."[3]

New shack fics were quickly contributed in a variety of fandoms which hadn't been part of the original challenge, and in fact hadn’t even been around at the time of the original challenge! Some of the new fandoms included Firefly, the rebooted Hawaii 5-0, Leverage, the Sherlock series on BBC, and Twilight. There were also contributions in fandoms like Shakespeare, which existed at the time of the original challenge but hadn’t had any ficlets written for it.

The 10th anniversary collection was open to anyone who wanted to write their favorite fannish characters (no matter how implausibly) into a shack, or some kind of shack-like structure, in the Canadian wilderness. 101 new vignettes were posted between her post launching the anniversary edition on January 6, 2012, and the moment when the collection reached 101 on January 20.

The collection remains open for further submissions.[4] As of June 2022, it listed 118 works in 85 fandoms.

Fan Responses


When I first heard of the shack thing, my reaction can best be described as eat it over the sink and don't drip any of it on me, okay? Then people started talking about werewolves, and I thought, hey, I could do that. Things went downhill from there. Nine shacks later, all I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time. This has been a great way to flirt with new fandoms and experiment with writing styles, and to get away with somewhat implausible crossovers, and to hang out with a lot of wonderful people. (Ces can now put "cat-herding" on her resume.) I got to play with the Pouting Menace and the cute bald guy. I got to pair up the two sexiest werewolves I know, not that there's much competition. I got to slash Hellboy, for which there will no doubt be some kind of divinely ordained punishment. Best of all, I got to watch a lot of my friends say, "Oh, no, I'm not getting involved in this," and then, a little later, "Hey, know what? I wrote another shack." I had a blast. Next year, let's do a tropical island.[2]



I totally need to do this because I hadn't even joined fandom in 2001.[5]


Canadian Shack Fic: a part of our heritage. *g*[6]


Canadian fan staranise criticised the return of the trope:

OMG, can the Canadian Shack meme die please die.

… So here's my snit:

WE DON'T CALL THEM SHACKS. …If your character is in a small, snug, house-like thing with insulation in the walls and possibly a kitchen, it's a cabin, or a house by the lake.

And? Why is it there? Why is it still maintained? Why is it in the middle of nowhere with no adjacent buildings? (I know a few cabin owners who purposely leave their cabins stocked and open, in case someone gets lost in the winter--though a lot don't, because vandals get nasty)


staranise, 2012

Her post sparked renewed discussion of the trope and challenge on Fandom Wank.[8] Soon after, naraht posted a linkspam of Canadian-shack-meta related links showing that discussion had spread to Fail Fandomanon as well as individual journals.[9]


Because several of the people who participated were in their own way BNFs of one kind or another, back in the day, it was a challenge that became sort of meme-ubiquitous over time. Get your characters into a Canadian shack, ideally in 500-600 words. There was a time, once long ago, when “about the length of a Canadian shack” was a legitimate and recognized fic length, longer than a double drabble but shorter than most short fic. There was a time.[10]


Example Authors

While of course many authors only wrote for one or the other challenge, several fan writers who contributed shacks to the original challenge also contributed to the anniversary challenge.

External Links

The Challenges


  1. ^ Technically, a cabin; in canon Fraser owned one.


  1. ^ Speranza (2001-12-11). "A Moment of Insight". trickster.org. Archived from the original on 2014-11-11.
  2. ^ a b Speranza (2001). "Authors' Notes". trickster.org. Archived from the original on 2019-09-27.
  3. ^ a b cesperanza (2012-01-06). "Canadian Shack 10th Anniversary Party! Come play!". Dreamwidth. Archived from the original on 2014-11-25.
  4. ^ Speranza (2012-01-20). "101! \o/". Dreamwidth. Archived from the original on 2022-08-09.
  5. ^ nwhepcat (2012-01-06). "comment on 10th Anniversary DW post". Dreamwidth. Archived from the original on 2013-06-20.
  6. ^ serrico (2012-01-06). "comment on 10th Anniversary DW post". Dreamwidth. Archived from the original on 2013-06-20.
  7. ^ staranise (2011-07-19). "Speaking as someone with an actual Canadian shack". Dreamwidth. Archived from the original on 2013-06-20.
  8. ^ sepiamagpie (2012-01-11). "Someone actually says 'I don't want to appropriate your issues as a Canadian'". JournalFen. Archived from the original on 2015-02-01.
  9. ^ naraht (2012-01-12). "This can't be a linkspam 'cos I don't do those anymore: Canadian shack edition". Dreamwidth. Archived from the original on 2015-08-09.
  10. ^ c-is-for-circinate (2014-03-27). "commentary on the Fanlore article with the tag #know thy fandom history". Tumblr. Archived from the original on 2018-12-22.
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