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Houses of the Gatineau Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the May 28, 2014 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Badass boathouse on Lac Bernard

by Anastasia Philopoulos

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Janet Bax holds an old photo of the historic boathouse with who she guesses is former owner Frank Rowe. Photo by Anastasia Philopoulos.

The mix of mountain and water is what first attracted Janet Bax to the area. It reminded her of the place she was born and spent most of her childhood: Tanzania

"I use to come up to [Lac Bernard] all the time to a friend's cottage," said the 64-year-old retired federal civil servant. "Finally they said to me, it's time to get your own cottage."

Bax bought the converted boathouse, which is located along Mitchell's Bay in one of the more secluded spots on Lac Bernard, back in 2003. The previous owners had done most of the renovations, but the selfproclaimed eccentric says she added the coat of bright yellow paint with green trim about two years ago.

"Everyone knew the boathouse for years. Now everybody knows the bright yellow boathouse. Everybody loves it."

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Bax says she always wanted a bright yellow cottage. Photo by Anastasia Philopoulos.

According to Bax, the boathouse is said to have belonged to Frank Rowe who was one of the original cottagers on the bay and the namesake of the road Bax currently resides on. At about 800 square feet, the cottage has a warm and cozy feel, with two bedrooms on the second floor and a peat-moss composting toilet on the first.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
The kitchen was once the sight where former owner, Rowe, would tuck his boats in for the night. Photo by Anastasia Philopoulos.

The kitchen, which boasts a floor to ceiling window that starts at water level, overhangs the lake just a touch and is where boats were actually housed once-upon-a-time. Addons to the structure include a screened-in porch and four-foot long dock.

"The dock is like our living room in the summer. I come out here in the mornings with a cup of coffee and see loons swim up very close," Bax said. "It's a little slice of heaven."

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Bax says loons will swim right up to her dock and join in on her morning coffee. Photo by Anastasia Philopoulos.

Bax lives in Ottawa but spends as much time as possible at her country retreat. Decoraing for her is simple, minimalist, and eclectic. Hints of her African past line the shelves and hang on doors in the form of art, and elephants are a central theme. Bax has an extensive elephant collection that includes figurines, tea towels, and trinkets from around the world.

"I guess they're my African connection," she said.

Inside and out, the house has a laid back and fun feeling. Bax says her son, Sebastian, often comes up from Ottawa to join in on summer gatherings. And while she may not have running water or tons of space, Bax says all the essentials are there.

"I challenge anyone to find a better place to unwind," she said. "We live well here."


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