Houses of the Gatineau Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the November 25, 2015 issue. Reprinted with permission.

House within a house - Bates' homestead teardown

Photos and story by Anastasia Philopoulos

It was the house she moved to after getting married, the place she raised all three of her kids, and was even once the place where four generations of Bates' family members lived.

But for Leila Bates, it was simply home.

After standing strong for 140 years, the Bates family home at Farm Point was recently torn down.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
The Bates farmhouse sold this fall, the new owners brought in crews to strip down and clean up. Photo courtesy Leila Bates.

Bates, who lived there for exactly 60 years and two months, sold the farm earlier this year. It was the new property owners who decided it was time for the old house to go, and while Bates loved that house she says it wasn't an overly sad moment.

"I guess I'm very adaptable and when I make up my mind to something that's it," she said. "It would have been nice to have seen it fixed up but I understand that it just would have been too much."

Originally, the Bates family moved their farm from Cascades up to Farm Point at Carmen Road in 1927 due to the floods. Back then, the barn, which still stands today, was actually torn down and relocated from the former property, to be rebuilt and expanded on Carmen Road.

"The old Bates farm is under water now," Bates said.

And while parts of that barn are older than Bates can remember, the house has a better-documented history. The Chelsea woman moved into the house in the mid-1950s after marrying farmer Keith Bates. The two met in high school, which was located in Wakefield back then, and were married six years later.

"When we were married we had a dairy herd," Bates explained. "And then we went to beef, because we didn't have enough money, it was too small a farm."

Originally, the house was log, but had brick siding when the Bates clan took it over in the 1920s. By the 1940s it was ready to be renovated.

"In 1943, they completely did it over, they put a tent out on the lawn, they lived in it," Bates recalled. "They had it all rewired and plastered, there was no wire in it or anything."

In 1957, Bates' first child was born, bringing in an era when four generations of the family lived under the same roof: her son John Bates, husband Keith Bates, mother-in-law Pearl Burnette, and her mother Jane Burnette. Eventually Keith would build an apartment addition for his mother, Pearl, who lived to be 95.

By the 1970s, Bates and her husband decided to renovate By the 1970s, Bates and her husband decided to renovate.

Over the years, so much has been done to the house, and by the time construction crews were hired to tear down the structure earlier this fall, they described it like finding a house within a house within a house. Each day, as the deconstruction progressed, a new layer of material was uncovered.

But before the house was reduced to nothing, the Bates family got a chance to say goodbye. Over Labour Day weekend, just before she sold the property, Bates had close to 70 people come out for a party to celebrate her family's life on the farm.

"Carmen Road was a wonderful place, all the neighbours were so nice. We had lots of friends and I miss them."

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Before and after - The Bates home in Chelsea stood strong for 140 years... Photo courtesy Leila Bates.
Houses of the Gatineau Hills
... most likely because there was a whole other structure hidden within. During the farmhouse's teardown this fall, surprised workers discovered layer after layer of various materials. This photo shows the original barebones log house after being stripped down. J. DeBlois - McElrae photo.


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