THE LISTING 6 Chemin des Chutes, Frelighsburg, Quebec
ASKING PRICE: $1.5-million
LOT SIZE: 15 acres
TAXES: $5,004 (2015)
LISTING AGENT: Jeff Lee, Residential Real Estate Broker, Engel & Volkers Montreal, Real Estate Agency
As you approach the back of Jacques Lajeunesse and Johanne Ratté’s purple home in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, you can hear a rumble.
That sounds comes from Hunter Falls, which are situated in Mr. Lajeunesse and Ms. Ratté’s backyard. Their 15-acre property lies at the foot of Mont Pinacle (part of the Appalachian chain) and the Riviere des Brochets (Pike River) snakes through it, eventually zigzagging down rocks, falling 35 feet down.
At the bottom of the falls, water pools, creating a natural swimming basin that ranges from six to 12 feet in depth. Close by, there’s a rock outcrop that Mr. Lajeunesse has dubbed ma roche pleureuse (my weeping rock).
“When I first bought the home, I remember that I cried for a long time there because of the beauty of the landscape,” he said.
The Back Story
Mr. Lajeunesse found this property in 1983 with son and as soon as he saw the waterfalls in person, he put down an offer.
For the next three years, he lived in the cottage-styled bungalow that was on the land. But eventually the painter moved back to Montreal to start an art school. Shortly after, he met Ms. Ratté, also an artist, and together in 1997 they made a life-changing decision.
“We decided to leave Montreal and start a bed and breakfast here,” he said, adding that they run it every summer until November 1.
Within a month of making the decision, they had begun the tearing down the bungalow and replacing it with a three-storey home.
“We went from about 600 square feet to about 4,200 square feet now,” Mr. Lajeunesse said.
The couple decided to do a lot of the work themselves, from designing the layout to sewing the drapes.
“It was a nice experience to pick out ceramic tiles, toilets and sinks,” Ms. Ratté said.
The finished home had three levels to it. The first has five guest rooms and acts as the bed and breakfast area of the home. Each room has a bathroom and there is a communal kitchen on this floor.
The second floor is Mr. Lajeunesse and Ms. Ratté’s living area, featuring the kitchen and a living room, with a large deck that overlooks the falls. The top floor houses their bedroom, an office and the atelier, a workshop where Mr. Lajeunesse paints and Ms. Ratté creates her jewellery.
But as much as the owners enjoy their home, they know its uniqueness is a function of its location.
But how do you calculate the value of such an asset?
“This is about the land,” their agent Jeff Lee said. “When you stand in front of the waterfalls, you hear that noise and it’s so relaxing.”
“It was hard for us to put a price tag on this because the waterfalls are kind of priceless,” Mr. Lee said.
“But I think it’s priced accordingly.”
Mr. Lee said that the village of Frelighsburg, a few kilometres away from home, is also a draw.
Just north of the Quebec-Vermont border, Frelighsburg is starting to become known for its organic vibe, with several farms and a flower shop nearby.
“You kind of get that feeling like when you go to Burlington [Vermont] and everything is organic and so magical and everyone is trying to sell you soap,” he said with a laugh.
And while the village has a population of only 1,100 people, it’s not very far from Montreal.
“It’s the right distance to unplug your mind and unwind,” Mr. Lee said.
“The drive takes about an hour and a half, so it’s the perfect weekend house.”
For both Mr. Lajeunesse and Ms. Ratté, their favourite room in the home is their workshop.
“When we stop running the B&B on the 1st of November, we go to the studio and work there seven days a week,” Mr. Lajeunesse said.
“It’s a room that inspires creation,” Ms. Ratté added.
It was a bit of a challenge to build, though. Mr. Lajeunesse wanted to room to provide optimal painting conditions, especially with respect to light.
“Usually, when you build a studio, the best light comes from the north ’cause it’s the most constant light,” he said. “But if I had done that, I wouldn’t be able to see the falls.”
So, instead, he put up windows to the west, south and east (where the falls lie) and installed wheels on all of his painting equipment, such as the tables and easels, so he could move things according to light conditions without compromising the view.
Given that their favourite room was built around the waterfalls, everyone agrees that it is the best part of the property.
“It’s so special to go down your path and go for a swim in clean, fresh water that is on your property,” Mr. Lee said.
Privacy and convenience aside, the waterfalls also showcase the vitality of the natural landscape and help foster a special connection with the land.
“I hope the next owner will take care of the landscape,” Mr. Lajeunesse said. “You can rebuild the house but don’t cut too many trees.”
Follow Madeleine White on Twitter: