The Way We Were
The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the September 14, 2005 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Frank Macintyre and the development of the Hills
by Catherine Joyce
Frank Macintyre has seen the development of the Gatineau Hills over fifty years and with his realty, Century 21 Macintyre, has been at the centre of it.
"There was no real estate service up here in the early days. There was no law and no real estate organization. My dad was the first to put up a sign, D.E. Macintyre, Real Estate Broker. It was 1952 and he was enjoying retirement at our winterized cottage in Kirk's Ferry. But he saw an opportunity. There were very few houses - so he put up a sign on the 105 at what is now Macintyre Road and began selling cottages.
"In those days a typical cottage - on a lake with 150 feet of waterfront, no electricity, no plumbing - sold for $4500. Most of the Gatineau River was already occupied with cottages closer to town. The area of Nankin's farm - his land ran north from the sandpits through Tenaga to Gleneagle - had been well settled by the early 1930's with cottagers displaced by the dam. So it was mainly lake property that made up Dad's cottage company.
"Nine years later, when Dad was 76 years old, he said to me. 'Frank, come on up and take over. It's fun living in the Gatineau. You can make a go of it!' I'd been happily teaching math and science at Glebe Collegiate but I couldn't resist the challenge. 1961 - my first year in real estate - I made $75 working out of an unheated, 500sq. foot log garage right on the highway. I was thirty-six years old."
There were a number of milestones that marked the development of the hills for Frank and his growing realty company. He negotiated the sale of Bennett Island in 1963 to the newly formed Gatineau River Yacht Club (GRYC).
"Then in 1968 Arthur Brown began subdividing his land into lots to create the Ridge Group up Musie and Ojai. He was selling them at the rate of one a year, for ten cents a square foot - a oneacre lot cost $4356. At the same time the new highway, the A5, was being built over the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge through Hull up to St. Joseph's Blvd, making the Hills more accessible. Soon we were selling Brown's lots faster than they could be surveyed and listed.
"Suddenly houses were being built and the demographics changed. It was no longer mainly cottagers. It was families with young kids coming to live yearround. Houses were modest in comparison with today's but they were well built. People wanted space, privacy, fresh air, access to the great outdoors. They all had canoes, many had sailboats and they joined the GRYC. They sent their kids. to Chelsea School, to the local churches, to the ski hills, and gathered as a community to cheer on local hockey and soccer."
This was just the beginning. Larrimac Links, Radapaw, South Chelsea, Edelweiss, Mont Ste. Marie, the list would go on-culminating today in an explosion of development from Chelsea Park to Wakefield. Land values have skyrocketed. Waterfront is out of sight. The Hills have become the new Utopia.
Century 21 Macintyre now has 12 agents. After almost fifty years in the business, Frank Macintyre has retired and passed his legacy onto his son-in-law, Steve Lynott.
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