Houses of the Gatineau Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the August 30, 2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Hills history up for sale in Wakefield

by Ben Bulmer

With its own turret, wraparound veranda, and plenty of heritage charm, it's not hard to see why Wakefielder Geneviève Parent fell in love with the old majestic house on the corner of Rockhurst and Riverside Drive in Wakefield. When she saw that it was up for sale, she bought it immediately.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Wakefielder Geneviève Parent stands on the top balcony of her Victorian era heritage home. After 12 years living in the property that was built in 1900, Parent has put the property on the market. Ben Bulmer photo.

That was 13 years ago, and now the Hills notary is moving on and has put the house on the market, deciding to give someone else a chance to live in this piece of village history. The property has "charm you cannot transport to a new home," she said. Walking up the steep driveway, it's easy to see the charm Parent talks about. Built in 1900 as a cottage, the Victorian house has all the hallmarks and attention to detail associated with the architecture of the time.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
When the shingles were removed from the exterior walls during renovations, contractors discovered the name Read and 1900 scratched into the wood. Photo courtesy Geneviève Parent.

Since Parent bought the house in 2004, it has been completely renovated while keeping as many of the original features as possible. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,700-square-foot property still boasts the original hardwood floors in the open plan kitchen and dining room. Floorboards that needed to be replaced were done so with perfectly matching hardwood. Wood paneled walls reach up 10 feet in height to wood paneled ceilings. Carved baseboards and ornate spindles, standard at the time but rarely seen in contemporary properties, highlight the building's elegance and give the property a grandiose presence.

But Parent isn't stuck in the past and realizes contemporary interventions can work well with the original features if chosen strategically to highlight the heritage characteristics - blacksmith Michael Kinghorn created a new staircase from hardwood and steel using the kind of design and craftsmanship that reflect a bygone era.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
An early photograph of the property. Photo courtesy Geneviève Parent.

The staircase leads to an open plan bedroom which boasts a cathedral ceiling and skylight. Originally just six feet high, Parent had the ceiling height extended and added the skylight, which floods the room with abundant daylight.

Perched upon rocks - it is on Rockhurst Road, after all - Parent's home boasts a location that's hard to beat. "I'm walking distance from everything, the location is simply perfect," said Parent. "It's like [being] in the middle of the country...we don't hear noise...it's very, very peaceful.

Parent plans to stay in the Wakefield area but wants to sell the house as it's simply too big for just her. "I feel sad, but for me it's time to move on and to downsize," she said. And will she regret moving out of such a majestic property? Not at all. "We can not have regrets in life. It will just be a new adventure."

150 Years of History in the Hills
Over the last 13 years Parent has completely renovated the house keeping as much of the original features as possible. Photo courtesy duProprio.

150 Years of History in the Hills
The open plan bedroom with balcony and cathedral ceiling. Photo courtesy duProprio.

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