Houses of the Gatineau Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the November 30, 2011 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Converted cottage gives family ringside seats to river, rail action in Chelsea

by Trevor Greenway

From 'way until the mid 1990s, Doug Taylor and Wilma Bosman had never been faced with "a case of the Mondays."While most people are sluggish at the beginning of the week and literally have to drag themselves out of bed, the Chelsea couple who live on River Road couldn't wait to get up and stare across the Gatineau River.

Not for the peace and tranquility of the river vista, but actually the opposite. The two used to watch the mayhem every week, when tugboats would round up the thousands of logs that floated downriver from Low.

"Every Monday, the tugboats would come and pull up the boom logs. The end of the boom was right there," said Taylor pointing out of his living room window toward the water.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
This Chelsea home just off Hwy 105 has privacy, Gatineau River access, stunning views and enjoys an intimate experience with the Wakefield steam train, as the locomotive's tracks are less than 20 feet from the house. Trevor Greenway photo.

"It was really great," said Bosman. "Sometimes you would see the guys walking on the logs and they would fall in the water. You would get a laugh."

The couple purchased their home - it was a cottage in 1980 - and totally transformed it from the pink box that it was three decades ago to the simple, bright, modern waterfront home that it is today.

The original cottage was about 1,200 square feet and although the house didn't enlarge its footprint with the renovations, it did get a complete makeover.

The two, with their two-yearold son, Scott, as a hands-on spectator, began tearing the cottage apart piece by piece, everything from the roof to the floors. They even made all of their own roof trusses.

"We made 24 roof trusses in a weekend, all while I was nursing my son, and it was plus 34 degrees outside," said Bosman. "There is a lot of sweat equity in this house."

The house saw the addition of a second washroom, a sunken living room, new hard wood floors, a new kitchen, a deck overlooking the river, a gazebo and a new shingled roof.

The main room also features exposed timber frames that look original. They're not.

They were installed to give the house more character, and it worked.

The house also boasts two fireplaces that heat the entire home. Taylor said they go through anywhere between eight and ten cords of wood every season.

The house isn't overly fancy. It's bright, modern, small and simple, a perfect environment for a family, although growing up with children in the house took a lot of monitoring.

Wedged between the river and a busy enough road, Bosman had to have an eye on her children all the time. Not to mention the fact that the home is less than 20 feet from the railway tracks, where the big steam train chugs when it's running.

"I could never be inside with (the kids) outside," said Bosman.

Even so, the couple's two kids loved growing up so close to the water; it meant a life of canoeing, kayaking and swimming. What else could a kid ask for?

Taylor and Bosman have just finished their latest expansion project on the home, a large bright living room that extends even closer to the train tracks.

But the family has no idea when the rumbling steam train will give their place a shake. The train has been sidetracked since June storms washed away parts of the rail bed.

When it's rolling again, they'll give the timber frames a test, one the family is confident they'll pass.

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