Renfrew -- Francis Lépine, and all his staff at Lépine Apartments, are spreading Christmas cheer to the people of Renfrew in a most spectacular way. They are dedicating a 14-foot, fully lit Christmas tree at the future location of Lépine Lodge, the town’s first and only luxury apartment complex.
However, this is no ordinary Christmas tree. It will be fastened on top of a 140-foot (42.6m) tower crane in the middle of the work site known as the Lépine Lodge. Although the actual site below the tree may appear barren right now, it will be the centrepiece of something unique not only to Renfrew, but to much of the entire Ottawa Valley. The crane going up marks the start of construction.
Renfrew’s Lépine Lodge, a 360-unit luxury apartment complex, will be the first of its kind nestled in the charming town. This lavish complex will offer easy access to shopping amenities, health and wellness services including an indoor pool. There will also be outdoor activities such as snowmobile trails and walking paths. Six buildings will encompass a majestic courtyard with landscaped grounds and all situated above the area’s only interconnected underground heated parking garage. It will also include a man-made pond for run-off and have full access to both the Millennium Trail and the Algonquin Trail.
Until those apartments are ready for moving in next Christmas, Mr. Lépine wants to not only extend a Merry Christmas to the town and the county, but the tree is also a way of saying thanks to all those who helped pave the way for Renfrew’s Lépine Lodge.
“Over the last few years, we have built our luxury units in Carleton Place outside the big city of Ottawa, and the one thing that sets Renfrew and other rural towns apart from large urban centres is the warm welcome we feel when we approach them with the idea of building our state-of-the-art apartments,” he said. “The warmth and eagerness of the people of Renfrew to welcome us into their community is genuine and sincere. It is for that reason we want to celebrate our first Christmas in Renfrew by dedicating this Christmas tree to all those who have helped us along the way, and to those who may consider becoming part of the Lépine Lodge community.”
When Francis Lépine decided to invest and build something in Renfrew that had never been attempted before, he had no idea his path was similar to one blazed by one of the town’s earliest builders.
Renfrew, located 45 minutes west of Ottawa, traces its roots back to the first Scottish pioneers who decided in 1858 to name the town after Renfrewshire, Scotland. As the town grew, so did the early entrepreneurs like M.J. O’Brien who seized on any opportunity to promote their business ventures.
He chose Renfrew to build his lumber and railway businesses because he knew the people in and around the town were hard working and rarely settled for second best. And he knew there would be more opportunities in the years to come.
Today, many descendants of those early pioneers carry on the tradition of hard work, refusing to settle for second best. Unfortunately, that same determination not to compromise for second best led many of them to leave their beloved little town for opportunities elsewhere.
Up until this year, many of those who left and found success far from home yearned to return, but they had little or no choice of suitable housing to meet their needs. Those who stayed behind and worked hard all their lives wanted to downsize, but they were in the same boat.
That was until Francis Lépine showed up on a cold November night in 2019 and told a packed room inside the town hall he had a plan that would help bring some of those people back to Renfrew. He had a way to help those near and far choose to stay in Renfrew not because of convenience, but because they would have a new option.
This stranger from Ottawa was unknown to most, but for the good folks of Ottawa, the visionary developer who grew up in a Montreal family that established one of Canada’s leading development companies, was becoming a household name.
From those early meetings with town staff and leaders, he knew he made the right decision. The elected officials, town staff and anyone associated with the project went out of their way to clear any obstacles so that construction could begin as soon as possible and not become bogged down in endless delays. Now, in less than one year through coordinated efforts between Lépine’s staff and the municipality of Renfrew’s staff, the idea of a highly detailed plan will be turned into reality in 2021. Mr. Lépine is proud to work with common sense people like he hasn’t seen since the beginning days he was working for his father.
That is one of the reasons he wanted a Christmas tree on top of the crane before Christmas to thank the people of Renfrew for allowing him to proceed with this development in these challenging times and make 2021 a brighter year for all.
“There is something about that small town charm that rings true, especially at Christmas time,” he said. “Renfrew has embraced the quality of Lépine Apartments, and we have embraced the good will of the people of Renfrew. We encourage everyone to take a moment and drive by the Christmas tree on Barnet Boulevard and share in our joy of becoming part of your community. The lights on the tree serve as a reminder of honouring our memories of Christmas past, and building new memories of Christmas seasons to come.”
Situated almost 154 feet (47m) above the ground, the tree will be lit for the Christmas period and will be seen for miles. Mr. Lépine said the lit tree will remain on the site during the holidays and construction starts in the New Year. You may also notice a row of over 40 white spruce of an average of 25-feet has grown overnight parallel to the new road that will service the first two buildings alongside Eighth Street.
When asked if he had one message for those coming out to see the tree, Mr. Lépine smiled and had one simple thought.
“From all of us at Lépine Apartments, we wish all the good people of Renfrew and the Ottawa Valley a Merry Christmas and thank you for inviting us into your community.”
The multi-unit complex is located at 475 Barnet Boulevard near Scapa Tape and borders Eighth Street.
For more information on Renfrew’s newest and only luxury apartment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Francesca Lépine-Willson at 613-850-5410
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader