Thank you for joining me on my journey to restore Mountain View chapel, a landmark 1898 heritage building situated in the foothills of the Parc de la Gatineau, Aylmer, Québec.
The chapel - designed by renowned architect Moses Chamberlain Edey (see also here) - first opened its doors in 1898 as a Methodist church for the Protestant, Anglophone farming community of the area. After many years as a successful place of worship, the changing demography from the young folk moving to the towns and cities led to Mountain View's closure in 1978. Since closing, the building served as an art studio and a yoga centre, changed owners a number of times, and attracted unwanted attention from vandals.
Disillusioned by shattered dreams, the previous owners of the chapel placed a classified advert on Kijiji (the Canadian equivalent of Craigslist) to sell up and move on to pastures new. They received lots of interest, but no serious offers, and so when I inquired they gave me the address of the chapel and asked me to take a look and contact them if I was still interested. As an Englishman who had grown up around historic chapels, I had always dreamed of living in a converted church and so was hooked the minute I saw the building. I negotiated a deal with the owners, and a couple days before Christmas 2010 exchanged contracts to become the new custodian of Mountain View chapel.
Given the rich history of the chapel, particularly its significance to the Anglophone and Protestant communities of Aylmer, the city has classified it as a heritage building of strong cultural, religious and architectural significance.
I worked with the helpful staff at the building department of the local city hall (Ville de Gatineau, secteur d'Aylmer) to get the chapel's zoning status changed. No doubt amused at an eccentric Englishman wanting to convert what some had considered "dozer bait", the authorities finally re-zoned the chapel to a private dwelling after a 113-year history as a community building.
Over the past five years I have spent much of my time landscaping and gardening, working on what was essentially a third-acre blank canvas. Tonnes of topsoil have been added, gravel laid, grass seed spread, and fruit trees, bushes, trees, plants and bulbs have also been planted. Now that the basics are in place, I am working on the structure and decoration of the interior living space.
A quaint building with a good-sized plot of land in such a beautiful setting is wasted if it is not used to its maximum potential. I have many ideas in my mind about what could be offered on the grounds once the renovations and landscaping have been completed. I am also open to suggestions from the local community.
In addition to holding events like exhibitions for local artists, outdoor recitals in the summer, cake sales and galas for local groups and charities and providing a refreshment stop for the many cyclists exploring the beautiful countryside around here, I am also excited by the prospect of opening the grounds to offer outdoor wedding ceremonies and reception parties. I cannot imagine a greater pleasure than helping create treasured memories like those of many who have gone before us at Mountain View chapel.
I hope that you enjoy reading my website. Please feel free to look around, and, if you have any comments, or would like to share a story about the history of the chapel, contact me via the contact page.