8 Sugarbush Lane, Uxbridge, Ont.
- Asking Price: $6,970,000
- Taxes: $30,318.00 (2020)
- Lot Size: 1.83 acres
- Agents: Steven Green (Royal LePage Partners Realty)
Gary Roberts was a 27-year-old forward with the Calgary Flames when he became a part-owner of the Wooden Sticks Golf Club in Uxbridge, Ont.
During the next decade or so, Mr. Roberts spent much of his time on the road, playing in the National Hockey League with Calgary, the Carolina Hurricanes and his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.
A round of golf at Wooden Sticks was usually on the agenda when Mr. Roberts, who grew up in nearby Whitby, was in town visiting family. He was biding his time until the day he could settle in the area.
“I love the rolling hills of Uxbridge,” Mr. Roberts says.
He and his wife, Michelle Lalonde, were driving in the area one summer afternoon when Mr. Roberts saw a sign advertising a small housing development. It appeared as if the homes would nestle right up to the course.
“We were actually golfing the day he spotted the sign,” Ms. Lalonde says.
The couple visited the site and purchased a lot on a high point of land overlooking a greenspace near the 14th hole.
The couple took their time planning while Mr. Roberts played for the Florida Panthers, then broke ground when he joined the Pittsburgh Penguins. After so much time traveling to arenas all over North America, Mr. Roberts knew that he wanted a year-round retreat with lots of room for big gatherings.
“We looked at it as a place where we could enjoy lots of family time.”
The house today
Their choice of an interior designer was decided after a visit to the home of Mr. Roberts’s Maple Leafs teammate, Tie Domi. Jeffrey Douglas of Douglas Design Studio had garnered awards for his work on Mr. Domi’s Toronto home.
Mr. Douglas designed a home centered around Mr. Roberts’s passion for fitness and the outdoors.
“I used to go to the meetings and just enjoy watching him sketch,” Mr. Roberts says.
Thirteen years ago this month, the house was completed and the couple moved in with their young son.
Their first big event was a weekend of celebrations set around their wedding at a nearby private golf course.
The 1 1/2-storey house has six bedrooms and eight bathrooms in 8,000 square feet of living space.
An upstairs guest suite includes a family room, a kitchenette and a private deck for visiting relatives.
The main floor centers on a large kitchen next to a “Muskoka room” that can be opened to the elements by sliding away the screens.
“It just doubles the size of our entertainment area,” Ms. Lalonde says. “It’s all open and connected.”
“Ms. Lalonde spends lots of time in the kitchen, which has a 60-inch gas range and plenty of space for prep work. All of the sightlines look towards the pool and pool deck, she says, so that she can see the action outside while she’s cooking.
“I’ve got a lot of big appetites here,” she says.
When they first moved in, Mr. Roberts was making the transition to a new career in player development and fitness for junior and professional athletes. He asked Mr. Douglas to include a 1,500-square foot gym on the main floor.
“What I thought when we built was, I would run the high-performance training out of the house,” he says.
The gym includes a Super X vulcanized rubber track, in-floor heating and walls of glass that slide away to open up the space in good weather. Mr. Roberts says his devotion to fitness helped him to stay in the NHL until the age of 43, when he ended his playing days with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“The wellness part of my home obviously extended my career because of my lifestyle,” he says.
As Mr. Roberts worked to rehabilitate his body after some injuries, he thought he might make another comeback. But he was working out in the home gym when he realized that was not to be.
“One day I said, ‘Honey, I think I’m just going to be the coach from now on.‘”
He began to spend more time building his high-performance training business.
Steven Stamkos and Connor McDavid are among the many NHL players who have trained with Mr. Roberts. Athletes who play golf, basketball and soccer have also sought his help.
“We’re trying to make better athletes,” he says.
For the first few years, Mr. Roberts helped players develop their strength and fitness at the property on Sugarbush Lane, where he had installed an infinity pool, hot tub, outdoor yoga deck, sand volleyball court and a sports court that became an ice rink in the winter.
“Guys were coming to my house and they didn’t want to leave,” Mr. Roberts says of the days when 20 or so young athletes at a time would hang around to enjoy the amenities. “It was like a resort. Summers were crazy for a few years.”
By that time, the couple had two more little ones, and Ms. Lalonde suggested it was time to move the business out of their home.
“I encouraged him to find another spot to train all his guys.”
Today the training centre is based in Aurora, Ont., and Mr. Roberts and Ms. Lalonde use the gym mostly for family training. Their two sons are hockey players and their younger daughter is a figure skater. Mr. Roberts’s eldest daughter lives in British Columbia.
Mr. Roberts says he stays motivated by mixing up his routine with swimming, yoga, weight lifting and running.
“I do something for my body one hour a day.”
Once a year he brings the clients and staff from the performance centre to spend a day at the house.
“It’s like a play day,” he says, describing one group of guys playing volleyball, another bunch on the basketball court, two or three guys in the infrared sauna and a few in the regular sauna. He sets up ice tubs for recovery and turns the yoga deck into a treatment centre.
At the end of the day, they all enjoy a meal, says Mr. Roberts, who admits to being a tough coach – but one who has learned from his colleagues.
“I would say I’ve softened over the years,” he says. “Initially I was a little abrasive.”
Mr. Roberts says the extended family also spends time at the property and he still invites his former NHL teammates to get together whenever they can.
Mr. Domi, Curtis (Cujo) Joseph, Mats Sundin and Bryan McCabe are a few of the former Leafs he enjoys reminiscing with, and Joe Nieuwendyk has been a friend since the two grew up together in Whitby.
“I still keep in touch with the crew and we all talk about how great we were,” he says with a laugh. “Some of my fondest memories were playing with the Leafs. I don’t think I ever would have felt the same not wearing a Leafs jersey.”
The best feature
Mr. Roberts, who has sometimes taken on coaching duties for kids’ hockey teams in the Uxbridge area, can put his sons and their friends through drills on the 75-foot-by-45-foot ice rink in the backyard.
A love of the game runs through the generations: Mr. Roberts’ dad, brothers and nephews all play as well.
“Gary always says there’s no better feeling than playing hockey outdoors,” Ms. Lalonde says. “Every Christmas there’s a big family hockey game that happens – always.”
Your house is your most valuable asset. We have a weekly Real Estate newsletter to help you stay on top of news on the housing market, mortgages, the latest closings and more. Sign up today.