Houses of the Gatineau Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the May 30, 2018 issue. Reprinted with permission.

The house that gives you 'a hug'

by Ben Bulmer

Anyone walking down Angie MacDonald's and Brettel Dawson's driveway in Larrimac might think they were in Cape Cod. Their house has a classic facade associated with the Eastern Seaboard, but its additions and varied rooflines show a different side to the story.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Brettel Dawson, left, and Angie MacDonald's sit outside their contemporary looking Larrimac home. Photo Ben Bulmer.

The house is cozy and charming, something you feel as soon as you cross the threshold. "It feels like the house gives you a hug," said Dawson. "It's a house that we think is happy."

Nestled on four acres of woodland, the property was bought by Macdonald and Dawson in 1996 - they were living in Old Ottawa South at the time. "Someone said, 'try Chelsea, they're giving the houses away after the referendum'," said MacDonald. "We liked the ethics of Chelsea. And where else in the world can you live 20 minutes away [from the city] in a rural paradise in such an interesting community?" The couple, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary last year, named their home 'GlenHarris' - 'Glen' honours MacDonald's Scottish roots, and 'Harris' honours Dawson's mother, who passed away the year before they moved in.

Originally owned by the Bell family, the origins of the original cottage have been lost to time, but MacDonald and Dawson do know renovations started on what would have been a small cottage in 1958. Renovations continued in the decades before Janet and Bryce Bell did a complete makeover in 1990.

With a keen eye for unusual antiques and quirky touches, Bryce refurbished the house using salvaged materials. From centuries-old wooden moulding from an old church to stained glass doors rescued just moments before an Ottawa girls school was set to be demolished, the decor isn't haphazard but finely integrated into its surroundings. Dawson describes the four-bedroom residence as "eclectic"; it's a space that changes depending on who it's catering to. "You can have 10 people here for an intimate dinner or you can have 250 for a wedding reception," said Dawson. "It's cozy when it needs to be, but is also expansive and welcoming."

The deck is surrounded by a lush garden, a chicken coopturned-potting shed, and an old barn. A path at the end of the garden leads down to the river.

But even though this is a slice of Hills paradise, the couple have decided to put the house on the market and are heading for Chelsea Creek.

It hasn't been an easy decision, but is one they know is the right thing to do at this stage of their lives, and they're ready to pass on the experience of living at GlenHarris to someone else. "It's an experience as opposed to a house. It's like a story," said Dawson. "It's got so much character."

The property will be listed with Paul Lemelin of Brokerage KW Distinction in the range of upwards of $900,000. Fancy a snoop around? There will be an open house June 24.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
The front of the home looks just like a traditional Cape Cod home. Photo Ben Bulmer.
Houses of the Gatineau Hills
Renovated by Bryce Bell the house is full of quirky antique touches like this incredibly narrow bathroom door. Photo Ben Bulmer.

Houses of the Gatineau Hills
The open plan concept manages to be cozy and spacious at the same time Photo Ben Bulmer.
Houses of the Gatineau Hills
An old brass bar footrest is integrated into the fireplace Photo Ben Bulmer.

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