Lambert & Co.™

Calgary Herald Article

Calgary Herald Article

After surviving throat cancer, man donates oceanside home to cancer foundation

Auction of Pender Island home aims to raise at least $1.5 million


When Bob Conconi discovered he had throat cancer, the very cancer that his father had died from three decades earlier, he and his wife, Diane, were in the midst of building a beautiful custom home overlooking the ocean on Pender Island, B.C.
Advances in treatment meant that Conconi made a full recovery, and in gratitude to the research done by the B.C. Cancer Agency supported by the B.C. Cancer Foundation, the couple decided to donate the home and property to the foundation to auction.

“We had to decide, did we really want this property or did we want to help cancer research? That’s why this property is going up for auction, to help cancer research,” says Conconi, a B.C. entrepreneur and philanthropist who sits on the board of the B.C. Cancer Foundation, in a video about the auction.

Gallery: View photos of Madrona Grove

The foundation chose The Garage Sale Luxury Auction House to run the event, which will take place Aug. 22 and aims to raise at least $1.5 million. The auction has no minimum and no reserve.

Lou Del Gobbo, vice-president and CFO of the B.C. Cancer Foundation, says $1.5 million can go a long way.

“It’s very significant. Last year, we funded close to $20 million in cancer research at the agency,” Del Gobbo says. Proceeds from this auction could cover roughly 10 per cent of the budget for one of the agency’s research priorities — personalized onco-genomics. The project will decode 300 cancer patients’ genome sequences to research how best to personalize treatment.

Madrona Grove — the home’s name is a nod to the arbutus trees that grow abundantly on the property — is a home that would suit many needs. It’s set up with enough room for a family, for guests, for entertaining with a large open central heart to the home.

The 2,662-square-foot home is set on 4.38 acres (1.77 hectares) of forested land, on the edge of an escarpment down to the ocean. The single-level home has an Asian influence to its balanced architecture, with a slightly flared roofline with wide, shade-providing eaves, and details such as cranes etched on the glass doors of the closet in the front foyer and an almost Tori-gate-inspired detail above the range hood in the kitchen. The large dimensional timber was milled from trees on the property.

From the front foyer, a turn to the left leads to a hallway with a powder room and the two secondary bedrooms, each with an ensuite and a private door onto the sundeck.

A turn to the right leads to the master bedroom at the far end of the home, a large retreat with huge windows framing the view of the water, along with its own door onto the deck.

The bedroom offers two large closets on either side of a dressing area, providing ample space for storage.

The master ensuite is a relaxing place, anchored in the far corner by a large soaker tub with views two directions — out to the ocean or up into the restful arbutus trees. The separate shower, with thick gauge glass walls, has a rain head as well as a standard shower head. A long vanity topped with a quartz counter provides two sinks and lots of storage in drawers and cupboards below.

Like the other rooms in the house, the ensuite also has an exterior door to the sundeck, which tucks around the two ends of the house.

The bedrooms all feature leather flooring in a dark stain, which is durable yet soft underfoot.

In the centre of the home is the open concept great room, dining area and kitchen.

Above, the tray ceiling features a wooden fixture above the great room, fashioned from wood from the land and intimates cross beams or coffered detailing. Underfoot, wide plank natural wood is soft to the touch.

What commands the attention here is the view and expansive sense of space. Natural light floods the main living space through a long bank of windows facing the ocean, each topped with clerestory windows.

A built-in buffet tucked to one side of the dining area provides storage for wine and glasses, along with a counter to mix drinks at.

A peninsula separates the dining area from the kitchen, with a raised counter wrapping around the main workspace and double sink. Dark, flat-panel cabinets with spare stainless steel hardware provide a clean modern look, while the dark quartz countertops flecked with copper tie in with the cabinetry.

The kitchen features a peaked sunroof high above that provides indirect natural light to work in.

It also features a wall-mounted oven and microwave, large refrigerator and a six-burner induction stove. The large propane barbecue on the sundeck provides extra capacity for large dinners — a place to cook the turkey or roast while keeping the oven free to cook side dishes or dessert.

Next to the kitchen is a casual dining nook with windows on three sides, a great place for lingering over breakfast.

A door next to the kitchen leads to the sundeck.

The sundeck stretches across the front of the home, with 1,295 square feet of space. Under the extended eaves, there is room for a large outdoor table, deck chairs and the barbecue. The deck floats near treetop level, with Garry oaks, Douglas fir and arbutus trees providing a partial screen that provides some privacy and dappled shade.

The home is heated through radiant in-floor heating and the home has a detached double garage.

“Peacefulness, security,” says Alex Lambert, executive director of The Garage Sale Luxury Auction House, about the feelings Madrona Grove inspires in him. “It’s definitely cosy, and it’s exhilarating to look out to the sea with these views.”

Lambert launched the auction house after retiring from an oil services business he and a brother grew from servicing the Drayton Valley area near Edmonton to a swath along the Rockies from southern Alberta to the Arctic.

He took the outstanding level of service required in that industry and transferred it to a boutique auction business he established in 2009, which began with high-end cars and boats (inspiring the “Garage” part of the name) and now focuses on estate properties. He uses a unique business model, including the option for potential bidders to come and stay at the properties while all their needs are catered to by an in-house chef, host and concierge service. The idea is to bring together buyers and sellers and create an event around the experience of the auction.

The Garage Sale goes through the properties with a fine-tooth comb, creating a complete owner’s manual, fixing any outstanding issues and even envisioning certain improvements.

Pender has a different quality; it has something that’s hard to replace. There’s a balance. We’ve fallen in love with the island,” Conconi says. “I’m certain that if any potential bidder for this property came to Pender, they’d see the very special qualities of this island that my wife and I found almost 30 years ago.”


PROPERTY: Madrona Grove, on Pender Island, B.C.

VALUE: This property is assessed at $1.5 million.

AUCTION DATE: Aug. 22. No reserves.

AUCTION HOUSE: The Garage Sale Luxury Auction House


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Travel to Madrona Grove was provided by The Garage Sale Luxury Auction House. Editorial copy was not reviewed nor approved prior to publication.