By Cindy Stephen
A French Chateau just off Cowboy Trail west of Calgary has turned a lot of heads the last seven years or so, cause it ain’t your regular kind of Alberta bunkhouse.
It’s an 11,000 square foot stone-clad mega-mansion on 80 acres of spectacular ranch land in Rocky View County. It lies unprotected by trees, prone to the curious eyes of all who pass by on the straight stretch of highway between Bragg Creek and the Trans-Canada Highway. The rural landscape around Calgary is dotted with opulent houses but this one….this one is as fantastic as it gets. It has even commanded national attention and was profiled by Canadian journalist Jen Gerson in Maclean’s Magazine.
As it was being constructed, locals were guessing that it be a hotel because it was so close to the highway. Some social media chatter jokingly suggested it might be a prison. But the supersized country villa, standing naked on the bald prairie, is indeed a private home with a private, albeit not a secret, owner.
The sole name on title is Ernest Hon, a member of Calgary’s highly respected Hon family, wealthy investors and immigrants from Hong Kong who have poured their hearts, and millions of dollars, into redeveloping China Town and inner-city Calgary. Ernest Hon in particular, an extremely astute individual who has yet to reach his 40th birthday, oversaw the construction of The Guardian, a 44-storey condo tower near Stampede Park.
Land title documents show that in July 2015, the 80-acre parcel was valued at $1.4 million. The home was built by Jager Homes, at a then-disclosed cost of $3.2 million, with an alleged $10,000 spend in permitting alone.
Hon has not publicly confirmed who is ambling about in the single-family home, which must have countless bedrooms and bathrooms. Could it possibly have a bowling alley and an indoor pool? (how else does one fill 11,000 square feet?)
What is known is that there’s a guard house, a nine-car garage, approximately seven fireplaces and the grand front entrance is defended by realistic golden horses and a shining chariot with a winged Icarus character at the reins.
To each his own.