Houses of the Gatineau Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the May 31, 2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.

All in the family: from rundown cabin to dream home

by Shauna McGinn

As a real estate agent, John Macintyre admits that people rarely include 1930s-era windows in their idea of a "dream home"; but the ones lining the living room walls in his Chelsea abode are an integral part of his.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Chelsea Realtor John Macintyre purchased the riverside home his grandfather originally bought in the 1930s. Large amounts of the original cabin still exist, including 1930's-era windows.

Macintyre's home would make for a perfect spread in the pages of Cottage Life magazine. Tucked away on a private road, he shares the 2,200 square foot space with his wife B.J. and their two children, Ellie, 20, and David, 18. The dark wood panelling, rustic décor and unique art pieces make for a seamless marriage of old and new, antique and modern. Complete with a screened-in sunroom and a pristine view of - and access to - the Gatineau river, it's nothing short of idyllic.

However, like many searching for their slice of paradise, the Macintyres had to be patient. The home was originally purchased as a cottage by John's grandfather, Duncan Eberts Macintyre. John grew up just a few kilometres down the road, and has fond memories of spending time with his grandparents there. But when they passed away in the mid 1970s, the house left the Macintyre family. It stayed that way for almost two decades. John and B.J. were living nearby when it finally came up for sale, and they jumped at the opportunity.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
John Macintyre and his wife B.J. Deen.

But the cottage wasn't exactly move-in ready. Standing just shy of 1,200 square feet with more rundown than intact parts, the property seemed like a headache at first. To make things even trickier, John and B.J. wanted to renovate without losing all of the original structure, something countless contractors and architects told them was impossible. They held out until a friend introduced them including the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France. Smith, along with local contractor Marco Maggio, found inventive ways to make the vision come alive.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
: The open concept kitchen and dining room blend the old with the new.

By the time things came together, the Macintyres had spent almost a decade living in the cottage, which as John puts it, "was basically like indoor camping at times." Construction took the better part of a year, and now the kitchen and living room area, as well as parts of the upstairs make up the segment of the original log cabin. The rest has been woven together so well, it's hard to tell which sections are part of the addition. Macintyre said that the builders even used a special blade to make the new wood panelling match its older counterpart.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
The screened in sun room is the perfect place for an afternoon nap.

He describes his clan as a "typical Chelsea family", that takes part in popular outdoor activities in the Hills like skiing, mountain biking, and spending time on the water. He loves that his home can cater to that lifestyle. His favourite part is the open-concept kitchen and living room, because it blends the nostalgia of his childhood memories with a more modern style. B.J. loves that part of the house as well; how it facilitates togetherness while maintaining a cozy feeling. But both agree that the view of the Hills and the river from their large bedroom window is pretty spectacular.

Like a true real estate agent, Macintyre says he and B.J. stayed patient through it all because of three things: location, location, location. He says they knew the opportunity to live in a waterfront home was dissipating - especially one that holds such fond memories. "I see a lot of people buy a house based on the kitchen or the bathroom or whatever," Macintyre says, "But you know - get the location you want, and then do the work."

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