Great Gadsby! Lacombe County mansion on the market for $15.5M
16 bedrooms, 27 bathrooms, nine-hole golf course, a shooting range and a lake
Every home has a story. This one seems to have about $15 million worth.
Tucked away among the rolling hills of central Alberta, where the combined population of the three nearest communities is just over 1,300 people, sits the Gadsby Lake Estate.
Don't be surprised if you've never heard of it. You can't see it from the road, and you'd never know you were about to drive up its perfectly-manicured driveway after leaving the gravel road adjacent to the property.
And it's for sale. The mansion, with a nine-hole golf course and an 11,000 sq.-ft. lodge on more than 300 acres of land, is on the market for about $15.5 million.
How does one come to build an estate like that in the middle of rural Alberta?
"We drove more than 10,000 kilometres in a camper and went so far as to survey some locations by small aircraft. It was quite an adventure!" owner Holm Hallbauer told CBC News in an email.
In the late '70s, Hallbauer, his wife and their five children came to Canada and went searching for something special — something they wouldn't be able to find in their homeland of Germany.
Their search spanned the West as they surveyed more than 100 locations in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.
When they came upon Gadsby Lake, they fell in love with the possibilities.
"Although quite remote, the location between Calgary and Edmonton allowed access to business and international travel as well as abundant shopping, sports and cultural sites," said Hallbauer, CEO of a global tech company.
A photo taken when construction started showed a barren farm, dotted with a few trees.
The family home, built in 1981, received a bit of buzz when construction started, "mainly due to the large number of diggers and scrapers used to move the vast amounts of soil," Hallbauer said.
The entire family worked alongside the landscapers in the spring and summer, bringing their dream to life.
Hallbauer selected building materials from around the world including India, Germany and Italy.
Antique fireplaces came from France, and craftsmen were brought in from Europe to complete the wall finishing.
In the early days, power and water wasn't as reliable.
"Some of the most outstanding winter memories include the whole family being snowed in, without power or water," Hallbauer said.
"We were not able to get to work or school for several days and instead spent the time playing board games in the indoor pool area or around one of the warm fireplaces.
"Power and water have become much more reliable over the last few 20 years and we haven't been snowed in for a while."
In 2001, Hallbauer decided to add to the property, intending to build a corporate retreat, complete with a nine-hole golf course.
About 12 minutes on foot from the main residence is the building the family calls Pelican Lodge.
Mike Fournel, owner of Alberta Golf Management Services, began working for the family around that time. He was brought in by his friend, golf course designer Derek Johnson.
Fournel told CBC about the work done to build the par-36 private golf course, including developing a tree farm, and moving older growth trees from one part of the property to the other.
Nearly 3,000 trees and shrubs were planted or moved in the building of the course.
During a tour of the property, Fournel pointed out each unique element, including the irrigation pond and waterfalls and just how challenging some of those holes really are.
Just having a private golf course is unique, said real estate agent Mark Evernden, who holds the listing for the property.
"To my knowledge there isn't any other private golf course in Alberta that I'm aware of," he said.
Selling a property in such a remote location will have its challenges, Evernden said.
"We're still in an economic challenge here within the province," he said. "Product is still moving; it's just not moving as fast. We still are a very desirable destination in Canada."
The property is available in whole or in two parts.
The residence, which sits on 140 acres, is on the market for $6,988,000. It includes a tennis court, indoor pool, seven bedrooms and 13 full and half baths, an apple orchard and large garden.
Pelican Lodge, at 10,964 sq.-ft., sits on just over 150 acres and includes the golf course. Designed as a retreat, with room for a commercial kitchen, it's on the market for $9,450,000.
It has nine bedrooms, many of them built like small hotel suites, with 14 full and half baths.
For $15,450,000, a buyer could purchase the whole property — both homes, the golf course, all 27 bathrooms, 16 bedrooms, shooting range, islands, bridges and 3.2 kilometres of paved walking paths.
The price tag will of course draw a certain type of buyer, but a tour of the property demonstrates why someone might buy in a location some may consider the middle of nowhere.
Hallbauer said the next owner will enjoy everything the property has to offer.
"They will get a very special feeling each morning when they look outside over their very own slice of paradise, the likes of which is unparalleled anywhere in Alberta."