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Author: Oak & Oscar Staff | MAY 31, 2023

David H. starts each day the same way when he’s on Saint Mary’s Island just outside the Boundary Waters of Minnesota: with a cup of coffee.

“Then things start to warm up, and you take your first swim of the day,” he said. “And, you know, that could be the first of six or seven times that you dip into the lake. The rest of the day is really up to each individual.”

David is a proud Owner of several Oak & Oscar pieces, including a custom Humboldt 12-Hr with “Saint Mary’s” printed on the dial. He wore this piece and rotated a few others in, like the Humboldt GMT white dial and the highly-sought after Sandford GMT. We explored the land and lake, taking in the beauty of the Boundary Waters and capturing the feeling of perpetual calm that comes with the stillness of the lakes, the breeze, and the surrounding forests.

Built around the 1920s or 1930s, David and his family are the third family to own this cabin on Saint Mary’s. The original owners lived there full time, harvesting and selling ice and fish to the local resorts. Many of the original tools they used are still hanging on the walls of the cabin.

A disembodied head of a brook trout on grass
David Fason laying on a hillside poised to take a photo

“The cabin itself is rustic,” he said, noting they added electricity around 15 years ago. “It does not have air conditioning, there is no heat, it is not insulated. So you cannot stay in the main cabin over the winter.”

The crown jewel of the cabin is a large stone fireplace, built by a craftsperson in the 1930s, whose hallmark was splitting a stone into bookends that revealed rose quartz in the middle. All of the rocks that make up the fireplace were meticulously picked for their aesthetic appeal, including several pieces of rose quartz that dot the hearth.

Arm showing Oak & Oscar Olsmted on wrist with a tan nylon strap fishing in a river
Fish laying on its side in water being released from a fisherman
Trout partially in water laying in a fishing net next to a fly fishing rod

The cabin has been a point of emotional refuge for the family, providing a place to escape the hustle of the world around them. Once you dock the boat, walk past the kayaks and canoes, you hike up a short hill with highly worn set of stone steps. Everything on this island has journeyed over the same path.

“My family is spread all around the country from coast to coast, north to south. And although this place is too small to bring us all together at once…it’s an opportunity for us to come together in larger groups than we normally would be able to do. We can share food, share a drink, share time on the dock — we love that this environment in this particular place allows us to do that.”

As dusk settles over the island, conversations linger over a fire ring outside or the large, historic fireplace inside.

Some of the best times on the island come from nights around the fire. That’s when the stories come out — family lore is created and perpetuated around the flame with drinks in hand.

When nightfall approaches, the stars make their appearance and, if they’re lucky, the aurora borealis prepares them for sleep.

“The ability to be in a place that is unlike anywhere else in the state and really the country is a special opportunity,” David said. “I feel like we’re entrusted with the well being of this island and this environment.”

Man on a river holding a large fish caught fly fishing
Fish in the foreground with a sunset in the background, illuminating the fish's fins
Overhead shot of a river cutting through marshy land
Large fish on its side in brown river water as fisherman releases it back into the water

David said he sees this as a place for his family — something he will pass down. He says this as he recalls his father’s watch, that was passed down to him, which he’s worn during “every major event in [his] life over the last 10 years.”

“And again, I feel like it’s something I’ll pass down to the next generation as well,” he notes. “It’s much like Saint Mary’s Island — it’s not something that you have just as a possession. It’s something that you have, that’s part of your life, that’s part of who you are and who you want to be. Part of your life that you want to be able to pass on to your children and hopefully their children.”

Are you an Owner? Do you have a story? Of course you do! We’re always looking to meet our Owners and share their adventures on our site and with our fans. Send us a message and let us know you’d be willing to chat with us about you and your adventures, and we’ll do the rest.  

Oak & Oscar Owner Story, overhead shot of a river winding through a forest