For someone working in Ottawa, Ross Pattee’s commute time is unusually long. None of his colleagues from the public service drive for an hour home like he does. But he doesn’t mind, as no one else heads home to a luxury hotel.
Mr. Pattee, the executive director of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, and his partner, Dominique Primeau, bought a 10,000-square-foot presbytère (clergy house) in Montebello, Que., in 2015. They’ve fully renovated the property into an eight-room boutique hotel east of Ottawa called the Manoir Chamberland, and the couple – who got married on the property – lives in the former nun’s quarters above the kitchen.
“It was pretty fascinating for two guys to be buying something from the Roman Catholic church. It’s not your average business transaction,” Mr. Pattee recalls with a laugh. “But the problems were just in my head. The community has been supportive and there’s just a delightful irony in my view for two guys, a couple, buying [a home] from the Catholic church and making a go of it.”
The couple bought their first home together in Vancouver, a century-old property that Mr. Primeau, a former employee of fashion-industry heavyweights such as Christian Dior and owner of an interior design shop, fixed up on his own.
Mr. Pattee’s job brought them to Ottawa and they bought another home from the early 1900s to renovate in New Edinburgh – close to the Governor General’s residence.
They attended a wedding in Montebello in 2014 and, while taking a walk in the village, saw the church property for sale. The following year they attended yet another wedding and saw the property was still for sale. They jumped on it.
“It was huge and we thought, coming from Vancouver, this would have been $10-million,” Mr. Primeau says. “We went online, checked the price, and thought, ‘Oh my God that’s so cheap.’ We made an appointment, visited the place, and we thought, ‘why not?’”
The church – which has a vocal committee but a small congregation of about 20 people who attend Sunday service – tried to sell the home, built in 1935, on its own. It was listed for three years before being sold to the couple for just $315,000.
“The purchase price wasn’t the challenge – it was the restoration price,” Mr. Pattee explains. “We got it for a very, very fair price given that it’s a 10,000-square-foot mansion.”
“Manoir Chamberland is arguably the best small lodging establishment between Montreal and Ottawa, ON!”
Mary Tagart - Ottawa, Ontario
SPECIAL TO OTTAWA HOME
PUBLISHED JUNE 28, 2017
Dominique is the general manager of The Manoir Chamberland, which offers luxurious guest rooms, a slick lounge and a magnificent dining room, while Ross commutes to Ottawa to work as a lawyer. When the couple purchased the neglected building in 2015, it was in great need of repair, but Dominique’s eye for detail saw the potential.
“The place had good bones, but with leaks everywhere,” recalls the clever designer. “They were too numerous to count – in the attics, garage door, basement door, perimeter, and basement. The chimneys were a hazard and ready to fall, as was the retaining wall of the veranda where the stones could be removed like drawers.”
With skillful renovation experience under their belt, Dominique and Ross were ready to take on the Montebello project. They had previously renovated a century-old home in North Vancouver before moving to Ottawa in 2015 when they began a two-year renovation on a house built in 1908. Working as a designer after years of expertise as the owner of a custom furnishing store, Dominique found the appeal of the new project was strong enough for the two of them to leave Ottawa for the quaint Quebec Village.
Not only does the interior space showcase the transformation, but the grounds have also been beautifully brought to life as an outdoor oasis. Decks have been added along with a hot tub, a wedding pavilion and pool with a 1,500 square-foot pool house that was designed and built by Dominique.
“The yard was a blank canvas of mostly weeds when we arrived,” says Dominique who adds that significant planting has taken place since. “We planted 450 cedars, 50 trees and over 50 rosebushes – and this is just the beginning!”
This summer Dominique and Ross will welcome guests for the weekend opening on July 1, but are also making rooms available for the overflow of tourists heading into town for Montebello Rock Fest over the June 23-24 weekend.
The splendid space is a tribute to their vision and Dominique’s talents, and will likely be home for the dynamic couple for many years to come. Along with rooms they still have to fill and a basement full of furnishings, they have many more ideas for evolving their splendid property.
Contact Manoir Front Desk
check-in 4pm & check-out 11am
819 661 8045