Houses of the Gatineau Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the June 29, 2016 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Location, family friendly vibe perks of bodybuilder's Farm Point home

by Tess Allen

When Sylvie D'Aoust bought her Farm Point home in 2004, it was more for the location than anything else.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Sylvie D'Aoust poses in the garden out front of her home. Photo Tess Allen.

More than a decade - and roughly $250,000 in renovations - later, the big red house on Chemin du Pont has become a centre of warmth and togetherness for D'Aoust, her husband John Ranson, and youngsters Tamsyn, 13, Katsya, five, and Lucas, four.

"[Before] I purchased the home, I lived in Ottawa and spent a whole lot of time in the Gatineau Park training... All I knew of this house was that it had belonged to one of the original Farm Point families, the Gervais family, and that it was one of the main houses where seven or so kids grew up," said D'Aoust, a bodybuilding champ as well as an avid cyclist, runner, and skier.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
The outdoor patio is D'Aoust's favourite place. Photo Tess Allen.

"The house was 70 years old when I bought it, so I knew that a lot of work was imminent, but the idea of being in a small community was so nice, and it was also really close to amenities."

D'Aoust wasn't daunted by the workload. She quickly got started on a three-phase renovation project that began with lifting the house to accommodate a basement boasting a nine-foot ceiling and ended with a full revamp of the house's exterior - replete with new windows and siding - and a gutting of its interior to offer a more open-concept living space. The final result was exactly what she'd been looking for.

"There's a warmth and coziness in the fact that we can see each other and talk all the time," said D'Aoust. "It's a great family space now, without being all broken up... and the wood stove is so nice in the wintertime."

In the summertime, evenings are frequently spent on the outdoor patio or on the family's spacious porch.

"I'm a cyclist, so this is an excellent area to start cycling from, or mountain biking or hiking or running. It's very central to where we want to be for getting into the park," said D'Aoust, who taught the kids to ski last winter and intends to take a stab at downhill this winter. "Being very central to a big selection of hills is amazing... You don't have to go very far to do stuff here."

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
D'Aoust loves the expansive kitchen and dining area. Photo Tess Allen.
Houses of the Gatineau Hills
The wood stove "is so nice in the wintertime". Photo Tess Allen.

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