Katharine Fletcher rec­om­mends vis­it­ing Wake­field in the Ou­taouais, pho­tograph­ing the many beau­ti­fully wrought ar­ti­sanal signs while ex­plor­ing its cafés, bou­tiques and trails.

Ottawa Citizen - - TRAVEL - Katharine Fletcher is a free­lance writer and au­thor of such books as Cap­i­tal Ram­bles: Ex­plor­ing the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion. Visit her at katharine­

Wake­field is one of my favourite Ou­taouais vil­lages be­cause it of­fers a pleas­ing bal­ance of in­door/ out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. Whether you hike, bird­watch or bike in nearby Gatineau Park; stroll along­side the Gatineau River on vil­lage trails; en­joy tasty meals at var­i­ous restau­rants; or ex­plore spe­cialty bou­tiques, it’s a wor­thy des­ti­na­tion.


Per­haps Wake­field’s hand-made, whim­si­cal signs might in­spire you to cap­ture the vil­lage’s true na­ture. I think tak­ing photos makes de­li­cious if not ironic fun be­cause no “Wake­field” sign ac­tu­ally ex­ists on High­way 5 North. Con­fus­ingly for visi­tors, Que­bec’s Min­istry of Trans­port only per­mits the name of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity — La Pêche in this in­stance — or the street at the exit ramp to be placed on the high­way. So when watch­ing for Wake­field, look for La Pêche and en­ter Wake­field via Exit 28 on Chemin Val­ley Drive (check Google Maps).

Here are some of my favourite signs and places — and of course, many oth­ers await your per­sonal dis­cov­ery.

CAFÉ MOLÖ 1 ch Val­ley Drive (cor­ner chemin River­side)

Re­sem­bling a green clap­board farm­house, Café Molö was built in the 1880s as the Earle fam­ily’s home. Today, I rec­om­mend start­ing your ex­plo­ration of the vil­lage here .

First, re­ward your­self with a fra­grant cof­fee or tea paired with a gen­er­ously sized home­made ginger (or other) cookie. Or, opt for a smoked salmon bagel, daily soup, or sand­wiches.

Not “merely” a café, own­ers Gil­lian Lovink and Diane Morey wel­come you to browse Clothes­peg, their col­lec­tion of gen­tly used cloth­ing. As well, be­cause these en­trepreneurs are ea­ger to sup­port the cre­ative com­mu­nity, walls fea­ture lo­cal artists’ works.

Lovink says Café Molö is a com­fort­able com­mu­nity hub and I agree it’s an ideal lo­ca­tion from which to dis­cover Wake­field.

Don’t miss the large bulletin board upon which com­mu­nity events are listed.

Here find the Sen­tiers Wake­field Trails brochure, too, which gives great tips on what to do in the vil­lage.

WAKE­FIELD PEACE­KEEP­ING ME­MO­RIAL Gatineau River Look­out Chemin River­side (across from Café Molö)

Cross Chemin River­side to the Gatineau River where you’ll find Wake­field Vil­lage’s colour­ful sign. On it the Maclaren Mill is de­picted: nowa­days it’s the Moulin Wake­field Inn & Spa (on Chemin Mill). Gaz­ing over the river, look left in the dis­tance to spy the red, cov­ered Gen­dron Bridge.

Near you, a mon­u­ment hon­ours Wake­field’s Peace­keep­ers and Vet­er­ans of Afghanistan and other con­flicts.

PLACE 1870 AND LA TULIPE NOIRE 715 ch River­side Drive lat­

Di­rectly across Chemin Val­ley Drive from Café Molö, Place 1870 houses a com­plex of shops such as La Tulipe Noire. It sells a mul­ti­tude of re­gion­ally made items, from beeswax can­dles made by Quyon api­arists, the Sem­pels, to unique jew­elry and paint­ings from for­mer Bris­tol, now Mon­treal artist Mar­cio Melo.

Up­stairs, Place 1870 houses a theatre where magic lan­tern shows were given, a rare sur­viv­ing ex­am­ple of a for­mer com­mu­nity hub when il­lu­mi­nated tech­nol­ogy was the rage.

KHEWA NA­TIVE ART BOU­TIQUE 737 ch River­side Drive

“Khewa” means “A north wind bring­ing you home.” Pro­pri­etor Nathalie Couteau is the res­i­dent artist whose works you’ll dis­cover here, along with many other First Na­tions jew­elry, carv­ings and crafts.

BOU­TIQUE JAM­BOREE 740 ch River­side Drive

A lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing is how I’d de­scribe this once general store now trans­formed into a bou­tique where you’ll find ev­ery­thing from gar­den signs to kitchen ware. It’s fun brows­ing while re­mark­ing on Jam­boree’s her­itage ar­chi­tec­tural “bones.”

THE BLACK SHEEP INN 753 Chemin River­side Drive the­black­

At the cor­ner of Mill Street, find what is ar­guably the hottest spot in Ot­tawa/Gatineau to lis­ten to ter­rific bands. The Black Sheep Inn is the brain­child of Paul Symes who con­sis­tently hosts an eclec­tic ar­ray of mu­si­cians. Re­serve be­cause this tav­ern gets packed quickly. It was built in the 1860s and first op­er­ated as the Tem­per­ance Ho­tel, then Château Diotte and Château Pear­son be­fore Symes re­named it yet again.

MACLAREN CEME­TERY Past Wake­field Mill (60 chemin Mill Street)

Af­ter turn­ing left on Mill Street and ascending along­side the La Pêche River, walk past the Wake­field Mill orig­i­nally built by the Maclaren fam­ily in 1838. Con­tinue up­hill to the Maclaren Ceme­tery. Find the sign telling you about the Right Hon­ourable Lester Bowles Pear­son, then look for his grave, pre­served by Parks Canada as an his­toric site. Pear­son won the 1957 No­bel Peace Prize for his ef­forts to re­solve the Suez Cri­sis.

CHAM­BER­LIN’S LOOK­OUT AT WAKE­FIELD GENERAL STORE 804 Chemin River­side wake­field­gen­er­al­

Af­ter re­turn­ing to chemin River­side, turn left to con­tinue ex­plor­ing. You’ll pass Geg­gie Park com­mem­o­rat­ing not only the fam­ily of doc­tors who worked here, but also Norma Geg­gie, au­thor and his­to­rian of Wake­field. Con­tinue to the Wake­field Train turn­around, marked by Cham­ber­lin’s Look­out at the Wake­field General Store. En­ter to find lo­cal au­thors’ books through to gro­ceries, and up­stairs, a restau­rant with a sweep­ing view of the Gatineau River. From here, con­tinue to ex­plore bak­eries and other shops, find the Gen­dron cov­ered bridge, or re­turn to Café Molö.


The Wake­field Vil­lage sign wel­comes visi­tors.


The Black Sheep Inn is a sta­ple for Wake­field live mu­sic.

Lester Bowles Pear­son

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