Houses of the Gatineau Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the August 26, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Family and history above all in this Venosta home

by Jonathan Migneault

When John Vincent Mulrooney left Ireland he came to Canada with the promise of owning his own land he settled in Venosta and bought 100 acres on which he had planned to start a farm.

A lake on his land, however, made it difficult to do any kind of large-scale farming. So he built a house there instead and just raised a few animals that could support his family. That was in 1872.

More than a century later, the lake that was once an annoyance for John Vincent, has become a source of joy for his greatgrandson, Peter Mulrooney, and his family.

Peter first started visiting the family land along Lake Laporte in 1946. At that time, he would stay at a summer cottage that replaced the original home in 1906.

Today, Peter lives down the road from that old cottage, year-round. He first started to build his home in 1984.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Peter and Marilyn Mulrooney's Venosta home sits atop a hill near Lake Laporte. Peter first started building the 2,600 square foot home in 1984. Jonathan Migneault photo.

It would take ten years of hard work before he could leave his house in Gloucester and settle in to the land his great-grandfather emigrated to all those years ago.

The Mulrooney home represents the culmination of a strong family history in the region.

Almost all the furniture in the 2,400 square foot home was refurbished from pieces that belonged to previous generations.

In one room there is an old bookcase that belonged to Peter's father.

In the basement there is a mantle over the fireplace that is 200 years old.

The centrepiece in the living room is an old iron stove that Peter found in an abandoned home when he worked in construction.

The recycled furniture all contributes to the bungalow's rustic and old-fashioned feel.

The high ceiling and open design of the living room and kitchen makes the house an ideal place to welcome guests.

In a way, Peter's home has become a living museum that exists to preserve the past and present of the Mulrooney family history.

One wall in the living room is plastered with photos of cousins, children, grandchildren and his parents.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Peter Mulrooney points out the 200 year-old mantle over the fireplace in his home's basement. Jonathan Migneault photo.

His wife, Marilyn Mulrooney, said the home has become a gathering place for the family.

Every Thanksgiving, about 70 relatives come down to their place for the weekend and camp out on the lawn.

Peter's file cabinets are even filled with documents thar record his family's history. He showed this reporter some Canadian Census records that were produced only a couple years after Confederation.

The natural landscape around the home evokes the peace and serenity that persuaded Peter and Marilyn to leave their suburban surroundings 15 years ago.

Among those family photos mentioned earlier, were a few of young nephews, nieces and grandchildren learning to fish along the small wharf where Peter keeps his motorboat.

The natural beauty that surrounds the home is enhanced by Marilyn's flower gardens behind the house. Peter pointed out that his wife has quite the green thumb.

Like the flowers in her garden, the Mulrooney home had to be nurtured to blossom into the place it is today.

"Anyone can build a house," said Peter. "Not everyone can build a home."

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