Houses of the Gatineau Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the January 30, 2013 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Wakefield home vast upgrade from past muddification

by Lucy Scholey

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Nathan Vanek estimates about a third of Wakefield village has been to his house. Vanek is known for his weekly meditiation sessions and for being an all around chilled out guy. His house lives up to its name, Art de la Paix, for its peaceful allure. Lucy Scholey photo.

Nathan Vanek has travelled a long way from a stone-and-mud hut in India to his current Wakefield abode.

It might not be surprising to hear the 61-year-old call the Legion Road dwelling "the nicest house" he's ever lived in, but the cathedral-style pine ceilings, wood stove and spacious living room could impress anyone accustomed to Wakefield's comparably more luxurious lifestyle.

Vanek's house has served as a comfort zone for many villagers. The living room has housed weekly group meditation sessions, and one-on-one meetings. It feels like the door to "Art de la Paix" or "art of peace" - the sign on the bungalow's yellow exterior - is always open to visitors.

"I'd say a third of this village has gone through my house at one point or another," said Vanek, while sitting in the dining room where a John Marok painting of trees along a moonlit waterfront hangs on the wall.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Little statue deities adorn Vanek's home. Lucy Scholey photo.

The artwork, like the house, exudes peace. But so does Vanek, who reminisced about his 25 years in India, where he resided during his yogi practitioner days.

When he moved overseas in 1977, his mud, stone and slate hut had an open-ceiling kitchen - to let the smoke from the fireplace escape - and cow dung floors.

He said Indian homes have since advanced and are now akin to his Wakefield house. More modern cement and brick homes are now the norm.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
The living room also serves as a meditation space. Lucy Scholey photo.

His Legion Road home dates back to the late 1800s. The middle section, which is now a spacious living room, was once a stable that housed the horse of Dr. Harold Geggie, who founded the hospital. In the 1970s, the kitchen and dining room were added on one end, while a onebedroom granny suite was added on the other.

When Vanek moved to the house in 2007, he renovated the middle section into a living room (it was previously a storage area) and there he pushes the furniture back for weekly meditation sessions.

A hand-carved wooden Krishna leans against the back wall, while small statues of Buddhist and Hindu deities line tables. Among the Indian mementos is artwork from friends in the Gatineau Hills.

Vanek said the three-bedroom house is simply too big for him now. He's seeking a smaller place in or near Wakefield village.

He's selling his Legion Road house for $365,000 with the Gauvin Immobilier.

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