Age of preservation: Century-old Rockcliffe Park homePublished on February 22, 2011

  • Aerial view of Lac St. Sixte. (Photo:

  • Bob and Michelle McElligott. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • A country kitchen with all the amenities. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • French doors open to the family's retreat. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

When Micheline McElligott decided to move from Mont Tremblant back to Ottawa's Rockcliffe Park, she quickly discovered that there were very few houses for sale in the neighbourhood where she and her husband Bob wanted to live.

Driving back to Tremblant, a little disappointed, Micheline brought a souvenir with her ó a photo she'd taken of a home she'd fallen in love with. Unfortunately, that particular house wasn't for sale, but she tucked the photo into their house-hunting file.

About two weeks later, Bob made a trip of his own and called her, excited about a gorgeous home that had recently come on the market. His description sounded a little familiar, so Micheline asked him to check the file. Sure enough, they were amazed to discover that the home he was so excited about was the very same one she'd photographed.

They moved in soon after with their infant daughter, Brigitte, and now, a decade later, they are still thrilled with their luck. Yet, it should be no surprise that the McElligotts know their own minds when it comes to real estate, considering their vast and varied experience in the field.

After more than four decades in the business, Bob's passion for building and property development has evolved, as his business, Timberlay, grew in size and reputation. In the late sixties, Bob was one of the first to build high-end luxury townhomes in Ottawa, and he followed that success building and developing condos, houses, and even a retirement home, in key spots all throughout the city.

You've probably passed by one of his developments without even knowing it, such as Rockcliffe-on-the-Lake, Beechwood House on the Rideau River or Somerset House downtown.

When the real estate market in Ottawa turned flat, he turned his sights on Tremblant, where Bob was one of the people instrumental in getting Intrawest to invest in the mountain.

The McElligotts enjoyed life at Tremblant, and saw the mountain develop from a small village to an international destination, while Bob continued to consult for other companies and develop his own projects in the area.

When their daughter was born, the couple decided to make the move back to Ottawa, and they were thrilled to land the house of their dreams. Here, Bob's skill for preserving the integrity of a place built over a century ago could be put to good work.

"It was a mess," Bob says. "It virtually hadn't been touched in 100 years."

But, keen on understanding the history of his new home, Bob took this as a challenge that he could sink his teeth into. The fact that it hadn't been renovated meant that many of the home's most attractive features were intact, but in major need of a loving touch.

A cozy, wood-burning fireplace in the den was restored to its original splendor. "One of my favourite spots to relax is the oak-panelled den, with all its original woodwork, that overlooks the back yard," notes Bob. He adds that, "the previous owner told us it was a 'happy house' and we wholeheartedly agree."

From the moment you walk in the door, it's easy to see why. Just past the front entrance, you'll find the original exposed stone wall that leads into a French country-inspired kitchen with bevelled windows and copious natural light. In each room, you get a sense of how the couple highlighted the charming arts and crafts features with simple, contemporary updates.

Bob was involved in every stage of the restoration, meticulously researching the history of the home, carefully selecting which aspects to replace and which to coax back to their original condition. 

The McElligott's newest venture, building and developing 50 vacation properties in an old growth forest on Lac St. Sixte, is very much a family affair. Micheline, as COO of Brickland Timberlay, is using her extensive experience as a former property manager for Foreign Affairs to organize, market and promote the project.

Bob's eldest son Paul, a passionate outdoorsman, timber framer and a heritage cabinet maker is using his passion for restoring and working with wood to help build a development that is at one with nature. He is the Director of Operations at Lac St-Sixte and will be the project manager of new home construction for future owners around the lake.

"We're doing everything from an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way any chance we get, using the wood from surrounding trees to build the outbuildings, for example, and the leftover wood chips to line the paths that wind through the forest," Bob explains, his eyes lighting up with excitement as he describes all the conservation-related efforts they are making. 

It's a tribute to Bob McElligot's commitment that he speaks with passion about his projects, taking pride in how each one has stood the test of time, or improved a neighborhood.

This same passion is reflected both in their efforts to create a peaceful, beautiful haven that is at one with nature at St. Sixte, as well as their lovingly-restored ó and happy ó home.

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