The Garden Pavilion | A summer madness

When first discovering Humminghill Farm – its bucolic fields, gourmet gardens and restored farm building that is home to its owners – one does not immediately suspect its illustrious past. You’ll have to take a path lined with centuries-old trees to set back a garden pavilion surrounded by a tennis court and an opulent swimming pool once popular with celebrities.

Posted at 12:00 p.m

Isabelle Morin

Isabelle Morin
The press

With its unique shape, reminiscent of the octagonal barns of the Eastern Townships, the bathing kiosk of the Bolton-Ouest domain inevitably draws attention. At its top, more than 20 feet high, a steeple commemorates the dovecotes that were supposed to provide shelter for birds. Whatever the inspiration for the architect at the time, the result is an irresistible invitation to do nothing.

When Les Ensembles took possession of the property, the building became the mid-century looked decayed. The Hawaiian kitsch decor with a white lacquered grand piano a la Liberace and a kitchenette with a cocktail bar left no doubt as to the festive background. “It must have swung here! introduces the architecture and interior design duo Maxime Vandal and Richard Ouellette. “We suspect that the location was the pretext for many garden parties. »

The then wealthy owner Madame Benson mastered the art of hospitality. By acquiring a former Loyalist farm in the 1960s, she injected a generous dose of luxury and glamor and abandoned the place’s agricultural vocation. It is a more humble past from the beginning of the century, naturally rooted in its environment and its land, that Les Ensembles now want to revive.

“We asked ourselves how we could reconcile it with our architectural concept,” says architect Maxime Vandal. The building and its swimming pool with sinuous shapes contrast with a more refined vision of the place.

It’s not a perfect game, but this area of ​​the field is set back. The beauty is that you guess it through the trees and discover it at the end of the course. Even if it doesn’t fit perfectly into the whole, it’s still a beautiful garden madness. It’s a separate goal.

Maxime Vandal, architect of the ensemble

Les Ensembliers X Bosquet garden furniture and accessories from La Ferme’s Humminghill collection give the place a modern and bohemian touch.

  • The large original windows let in light and a gentle breeze on hot summer days.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    The large original windows let in light and a gentle breeze on hot summer days.

  • The wardrobe, taken from the original furnishings, was the starting point for the redesign.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    The wardrobe, taken from the original furnishings, was the starting point for the redesign.

  • The woven carpet, the “first expensive object” the couple bought, ties together the different elements of the decor.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    The woven carpet, the “first expensive object” the couple bought, ties together the different elements of the decor.

  • The pavilion features arts and crafts by La Ferme Humminghill, including a leather trinket tray by La Compagnie Robinson, a botanical-scented candle by Ruby Brown and candleholders made from recycled limestone by Atelier Bussière.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    The pavilion features arts and crafts by La Ferme Humminghill, including a leather trinket tray by La Compagnie Robinson, a botanical-scented candle by Ruby Brown and candleholders made from recycled limestone by Atelier Bussière.

  • Born out of a collaboration between Luminaire Authentik and Les Ensembliers, a custom suspension hangs 20 feet from the ceiling for the space.  This object will join the La Ferme Humminghill collection in the autumn.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Born out of a collaboration between Luminaire Authentik and Les Ensembliers, a custom suspension hangs 20 feet from the ceiling for the space. This object will join the La Ferme Humminghill collection in the autumn.

  • The kitchenette has been updated and now houses a mini-fridge for refreshments.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    The kitchenette has been updated and now houses a mini-fridge for refreshments.

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Luxury cars and cocktails under the sun

A large asphalt roundabout was built around the property in the 1960s: chic contemporary comfort. Between a game of tennis and a swim, guests can relax in the garden pavilion with a drink in hand. A scent of coconut tanning oil fills the air. One of them gets up to strum a fashionable tune. Supported by sun and alcohol, we stuff ourselves with salty anecdotes. Cocktail dresses, house staff at the grill, champagne and luxury cars… a moment of relaxation in an exquisite sphere.

“Ms. Benson drove around in her Rolls-Royce. It was the local lady, says interior designer Richard Ouellette when attempting this reconstruction of the period. It must have been the talk of the town, both for the people who lived here and for those who came from Montreal. The tennis courts were illuminated at night. It is also said that the after-parties of tennis internationals took place in these places. Sparkling with a glamorous landscape, Humminghill was the meeting point of Montreal’s tennis jet set and gratin.

Having seen its hours of glory and celebration, the estate was put to rest.

  • From La Ferme's new Humminghill collection (out August): bowls by Atelier EM, a stoneware pitcher by MA Dorval and glasses by artisan Charlie Larouche

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    From La Ferme’s new Humminghill collection (out August): bowls by Atelier EM, a stoneware pitcher by MA Dorval and glasses by artisan Charlie Larouche

  • The leisure area of ​​the swimming pool is an incentive to relax for the couple who has a busy schedule.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    The leisure area of ​​the swimming pool is an incentive to relax for the couple who has a busy schedule.

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A discreet happiness

The times have changed. The garden pavilion radiates peaceful happiness today. The hardwood structure has been refreshed with a coat of paint that makes it lighter on the inside and more sober on the outside. The places now show a nomadic Californian style with a relaxed vibe.

The nicest piece there was in this place is this wooden cabinet that hasn’t been touched up because it was great. It was our starting point to reinvent decor.

Richard Ouellette, interior designer of Les Ensembles

The kitchenette has been refreshed and has gained an authentic flair. Here and there we find the ensembles’ signature – patinas, pottery, linen throws, a quilt and other handicrafts from the La Ferme Humminghill collection. Woven rugs and patio furniture from the duo’s recent collaboration with Quebec firm Bosquet also contribute to the decor.

Other projects will eventually expand this space: a pergola on one side, an organically shaped terrace around the pool… maybe even a climbing wall, the couple list, laughingly emphasizing that it’s project number 25 on a long to-do list .

At the rear of the pavilion, out of sight, his and hers changing rooms, a fieldstone stove and an outdoor shower are a reminder of the property’s chic country past.

  • Perrin & Rowe outdoor shower

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Perrin & Rowe outdoor shower

  • The dressing rooms are a nod to the era.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    The dressing rooms are a nod to the era.

  • The pace slows down around the pavilion.  The kitchen is also a moment to enjoy.

    DOUCEPHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    The pace slows down around the pavilion. The kitchen is also a moment to enjoy.

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Meanwhile, the place pleasantly and very nicely fulfills its mission. “We like to come and spend time there when it’s too hot or it’s raining. After a busy week with the team and customers, we come here to meet and relax, reports Maxime Vandal. We are early risers and go to bed early. It’s a completely different pace of life than back then! »

Along with the public side of the Humminghill Estate and its activities comes a less private side. However, no one ever goes to this rest stop. The places are a haven. A destination in itself. And that’s where the duo will spend their next vacation.

“We’re turning 50 and there’s a point in our lives where we want to have more free time and have fun,” observes Richard, the thoughtful couple. “It’s the only place where I can put my boyfriend on a deck chair and sometimes he even falls asleep. Without that, it would be impossible to stop him, he said with amusement. Here we connect effortlessly. Nothing is complicated! »

However, the duo dreams of seeing people land there. When the rhythm slows down, when the viruses hover less strongly over the summers. Maybe then they will be back Garden parties around the pool. And who knows… “Maybe I’ll be the local Mrs. Benson!” »

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