Evocative Nautical Vacation House, Quebec

The image of this Magdalen Islands Quebecers’ retreat leaves us daydreaming of the perfect sunny day.

Located on the nearly treeless Havre-Aux-Maisons, one of six interconnected Magdalen Islands that forms a wonderful little archipelago, this unadorned cottage in its breezy landscape captures our hearts.

Quintessentially Canadian, the local vernacular of wood clapboard and shingle under a gable roof is celebrated honestly and without affectation.

It doesn't get more honest than this! How Canadian!


Characteristic of this spot are the brightly coloured houses, rolling hills and vast meadows. Architects Marie-Claude Hamelin and Loukas Yiacouvakis, of Montreal firm YH2, reimagined this property.

Renovating and expanding it to accommodate the needs of Montréalers Yves Bériault and Diane Decoste (a native Magdalen Islander), the goal was to stay true to the long history of painting residences in often outlandish hues—historically, according to local lore, aiding fishermen in navigating their way back home. Furthermore, they wanted to pay homage to the original function of the structure, which once served as a schoolhouse.



In restoring the house to its original form, the architects discovered the high arched open pine ceilings soaring 35 feet, which they whitewashed to emphasize the airiness.

Within this volume they suspended an office space that is simultaneously functional and aesthetically cool.

Isn't this captivating?



The unfussy white volume complements the natural wood.

The cedar corridor is unquestionably a special feature in this house. This architectural space  is visually arresting, creating a multi-sensory experience.


This Magdalen Islands vacation house is truly an architectural gem that celebrates its historical and geographic context.

In an article in Dwell magazine, resident Bériault aptly said, “Once you understand these islands, you realize that you can’t just pick up an architecture magazine and find some crazy thing you like and say, ‘I want that.’ There’s a certain naiveté, almost a childlike quality, about the architecture here, which we love, and we have to respect that.”

As do we!

You can learn more abou the architecture of Marie-Claude Hamelin and Loukas Yiacouvakis by clicking --> YH2
All photos by: Matthew Monteith

Researched and Written by: Julia Borowicz, Urban Studies and Human Geography, University of Toronto, Undergraduate Studies

Posted In: Quebec

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