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The House that Love Built in Ontario


After Pat Lavallee’s husband died, she lost her house near Williamsburg, Ontario, in a fire and was forced to live in a trailer in her back yard. Her neighbors, Andrew and BettyAnn Van Veen, felt they had to help. They asked friend Andrew Bouwman to assess the burned house, but it was beyond repair. So Bouwman drafted new house plans and the volunteering began.

More than 50 volunteers came from Williamsburg (Ontario) Christian Reformed Church, where the Van Veens attend, and from Bouwman’s church, Immanuel CRC in Cornwall, Ontario to rebuild Lavallee’s home.

The rapid progress amazed Van Veen. “It was like an Amish barn-build!” he said. In one day the volunteers framed the house, raised the rafters, and applied plywood to the walls and roof. Several times when dry weather was crucial, area rain passed the house by. Bouwman observed, “The good Lord was at work.”

Widespread community support was evident. The township waived all fees for demolition, dumping, and building permits. Plumbing, electrical, and furnace work was donated by licensed contractors, and local lumberyards donated materials.

Lavalee said, “It was a godsend! I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was unexpected and appreciated!”

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