Ever wanted to pull a Mary Poppins and walk right into a painting of a perfect little town, birds chirping, sun shining, chimney sweeps spontaneously breaking into song? Admit it, we all have (minus the chimney sweep, maybe?). Well, the preferred method of travel to the small town of Wakefield, Quebec, is unfortunately by car, not water colour, but the rest pretty much sums the place up.
Wakefield is by all accounts adorable, but it’s also got an edge. Ask folks in the Ottawa-Gatineau area (just 30 minutes down the road), and instead of groaning at its uber-quaintness, they’ll enthusiastically tell you about the last time they were there. Here’s why:
Make your way to town by driving north (from Ottawa) on Highway 5, following alongside the sprawling and scenic Gatineau Park (even the DRIVE is charming), and check in at the opulent-yet-affordable Moulin Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa. B&Bers might want to alternatively check out the Auberge de Mon Petit Chum (those with a little French who are unable to suppress a “SERIOUSLY?” should just shut up and thank me).
Like nature? Good. They’ve got some. The aforementioned Gatineau Park has amazing hiking and mountain biking trails. The nearby Rideau River is great for swimmers and paddlers (equipment rentals are available at a few places in-town) and the town is literally surrounded by golf courses. Winter visitors will find ample opportunity for downhill skiing (Camp Fortune and Edelweiss are both short drives away), snowshoeing, and even dog sledding.
After you’re finished working every muscle in your body, head to the Moulin Spa (conveniently located in the same building as your bed). Massages, facials, mani/pedis and more are on offer. Ask about packages to get the best deal.
Once you’re sufficiently fresh-faced, your active day’s banked calories can be spent at the Village House. With a menu that contains both poutine and confit pig cheek, it’s likely to satisfy both simple and adventurous pallets. The excellent wine list and amazing dessert menu are both to be sampled.
Don’t leave town without catching a show at the Black Sheep Inn. Plan ahead as some shows sell out, but it’s worth cramming into this legendary intimate music hall. Both local artists and music royalty have graced its stage in what many consider one of the best music venues in the country. The bar itself isn’t much to look at, but the view of the Rideau is spectacular, and the entertainment is unbeatable for a town this size (or any size, honestly). Get there early, grab a drink, and enjoy.