HOME TOUR: Chelster Hall

A home of this scale rising up along the Lake Ontario shoreline is a rarity.

Pulling into the drive in front of massive black iron gates, the view of the house is obscured by a smaller out building placed just behind them. I ring the buzzer and a man answers. A cheerful Hugo Powell greets me, “Come in. Drive up to the gate, and it will open for you.”

The gates open and reveal a sweeping lawn, the long lane leading your eye to the home known as Chelster Hall.

Hugo Powell and his wife Tracy certainly must reside in one of the most talked about houses in our fair town. Taking four years to build, the 48,000 square foot home sits on a ten-acre site, along with a handful of smaller buildings including a swimming pavilion and a chapel.

Passersby can read the inscription near the gate with the estate's name Chelster Hall; a combination of the names of the family's first two beloved Golden Retrievers Lady Chelsea and Manchester.

It's the family's love of animals ““ and a handful of other causes close to their heart ““ that I have been invited to their home to talk about.

A model of charm and civility, Hugo has prepared refreshment for our visit, lain out on a silver tray and served in glasses bearing his family crest in gold relief.

“Tracy and I went to Italy to the Murano factory to have these created for us. It's so interesting the way the artisans create pieces like this, and all the history is there. You can look back and find patterns they created since the company began. Now our family crest is there too, and as the years go by more can be made.”

It's this reverence for history and things past, and a respect for family ties and their meaning that weaves a thread through the design of this home and all that lies within. From the family crest motif woven into custom-made draperies from Ireland, to the family photographs that line the second level of the library, this is a home filled with meaningful objects collected on travels and saved from both Hugo and Tracy's families.

Walking through the foyer past the massive front doors, under a spherical ceiling, Hugo adds, “this is where guests will enter. They'll come in through the front door, into the foyer and then through to the pool.”

The family has, for the first time, planned to open their home and grounds to guests for what will be the biggest fundraising event of the year. They have, in the past, hosted a few events exclusively on the grounds, but this will be the first occasion guests will be invited into the home.

Planned to benefit The Oakville Humane Society, The Oakville Hospital, Oakville Library, Oakville Chamber Orchestra and St. Mildred's Lightbourn Academy, the event will be the largest the Powell's have planned to date.
“We want this to be an event for the whole community of Oakville,” Hugo says.

The Chelster Hall Community Festival will take place on Saturday, July 20, with plans to accommodate 500 guests for a rare chance to visit the estate.

The fundraiser will include the opportunity for a glimpse inside Chelster Hall, and an evening to partake in fine fare on the grounds overlooking the lake. 

“We want it to be a relaxed, informal party where you come out and meet your neighbours. I want the evening to be a fun night, a casual night; and for everyone to have a great time and want to do it again next year,” says Tracy.

Guests will be served by a number of local businesses including food by Seasons, Bru, Mye Japanese Cuisine, 7 Enoteca, Colossus, Cobs Bakery, Olivo Fresco, Stonehouse Restaurant, De Stefano's Ristorante, Catered Fare and Circus Chocolates and Ice Cream; and refreshments by TAG No 5 Vodka, Trius Wines and Tableau.

Entertainment will be provided by Ian Thomas, as well as a performance by the Oakville Chamber Orchestra.

While mingling and meeting with your neighbours, there will also be ample opportunity to bid in silent auctions and participate in raffles. Tracy has amassed an impressible collection of designer goods including bags, watches and sunglasses along with electronics and other goodies.

One larger ticketed raffle will take place with winners taking home luxury prizes totaling $24,000 in value. Ticket purchasers will have the chance to win a luxury vacation to The Cayman Islands courtesy of Cayman Islands Tourism; a Chopard watch courtesy of Knar Jewellery or a limited edition Louis Vuitton handbag or bottle of Mouton Rothschild courtesy of the Powell family.

As the evening draws to a close, guests will leave the estate to the sound of the Pipers of the Black Watch. An exit fit for a king”¦ and the guests of Chelster Hall.