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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 August 27, 2014 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Grab a little R&R at rustic Rendezvous Rupert

by Joel Balsam

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
The first known registration of the barn was in 1898. Joel Balsam photo.

The birds chirp in the trees, the wind ruffles the leaves, and as you sway ever so gently side to side at Rupert's newest tourist home, you hear the murmur of the creek splashing against the rocks. This calm quality of silence is something owner and Kingston native Linda Vanderlee believes people are craving as a retreat from their hectic lives. "My definition of retreat is: take care of yourself and do whatever you need to recharge your batteries," she said.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
The cozy kitchen gives a true chalet feel. Joel Balsam photo.

Besides the calm silence offered by the beautiful landscape and creek that feeds into the home's backyard from Lac Mahon, the ideal vacation for one person could be very different for somebody else, according to Vanderlee. Joe from Toronto might want a place close to Wakefield to check out a show at the Sheep, Beth from Vancouver may want to do a canoe trip or go hiking, and François from Quebec City might want to write poetry

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Linda Vanderlee pulls out the wall bed, which has allowed her to expand her services to a tourist home. Joel Balsam photo.
and let someone cook his meals. That is why Vanderlee's rustic Rendezvous Rupert retreat is customizable to the esires of the guest. À la carte options like breakfast, excursions, and massages are all available and guests staying at the tourist home can build their own vacation experience. "My idea is to talk to people and ask them what their ideal vacation would be and help them decide what we're going to do," she said.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Linda Vanderlee pulls out the wall bed, which has allowed her to expand her services to a tourist home. Joel Balsam photo.

What's even more interesting about Rendezvous Rupert is the opportunity to take advantage of Vanderlee's skills as a professional life coach and consultant. Since 1999, she has been offering up the 115-year-old barn as a retreat for groups and businesses to do team building and "experiential" activities to grow and "live aligned". The service for businesses and groups will continue, but since Aug. 23 - with the purchase of a bed and full certification from the Quebec tourism ministry - Vanderlee has opened up the home to guests of any kind.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Linda Vanderlee takes a stroll through the garden down to the creek. Joel Balsam photo.

The barn was collapsing and abandoned before a friend of Vanderlee's restored it, but the work is far from finished. Since she took it over in 1993, Vanderlee has had the roof painted, a gorgeous deck built, and installed a wall bed, but the upstairs is still completely empty and she has a long list of plans for both the barn and the rest of the property. Still, Vanderlee intends to keep the rustic nature of the barn by maintaining the old wooden door and original look. She even arranged old plough blades in the shape of a compass as a fixture in the floor. "Since I'm helping people find their direction, it's [arranged] like a compass," she explained.

Rendezvous Rupert is now listed on a number of websites including Kijiji and AirBnB. If you're enticed to book a retreat, you can find more information at rendezvousrupert.org. To learn more about Vanderlee's consulting services, visit lindavanderlee.com.


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