Of all places, I heard about the beautiful village of Wakefield while traveling through India. The crazy thing was, I didn’t hear about it once, but twice, once from a complete stranger, and the other from a woman who I was working with on a project there. In both cases the conversation went a little like this:
Me: I’m moving to Ottawa in a few months.
Random People: Oh you should move to Wakefield, its a great little place full of wonderful shops, and restaurants in the most idealic setting, with a beautiful covered bridge. You’d love it!
This weekend was insanely gorgeous….the 20 degrees weather was more than a little troubling considering I had hoped to be finishing the last few trails of my ski challenge. Ah well, everyone else welcomed the heat and the sunshine, so I waxed my skis and said hello to spring – what better way than wandering through Wakefield, and brunch at Chez Eric.
Love it or Leave it: Love it, I do. A 25 minute drive from Ottawa, Wakefield feels like a world away. Its the perfect place to while your weekend away simply wandering. We actually got married at the Wakefield Inn, and I don’t think we could have picked a more perfect location. The night before our wedding, Rob also discovered Chez Eric, a perfect, family friendly culinary gem , and one of very few restaurants in the area that I will return to time and time again. We hadn’t planned on Chez Eric for Brunch…mostly because I had no idea that they offered brunch, but they do, and it is mighty delicious. Ok…I need to go on a little bit about how delicious it is, and how much of a gem this restaurant it. Oh, and did I mention, not only is the food, which they classify as modern Quebecois divine, but they are absolutely fun and family friendly. They even have a sandbox for the little ones to play in, not to mention an excellent patio. They source locally, and grow their own herbs and vegetables. They make as much as they can in house, and I guarantee you will taste the difference. Their homemade butter is divine!
Frugality Index: Of course it doesn’t cost you a penny to wander through Wakefield, and don’t forget to check out the covered bridge (Rob does not understand my obsession about them, but they are so quaint and pretty, I find them gorgeous arching over rivers. Brunch at Chez Eric will likely set you back $10-$15 dollars. Rob enjoyed a meal called “the hangover” which included Eggs Benny on Pulled Pork; and came complete with the best Caesar either of us had ever tasted. I had a wonderfully delicious lemon chicken club with fresh cheese curds. Check out Chez Eric at http://www.chezeric.ca
Family Fun: There are lots of things to do in Wakefield – normally a handsome steam engine makes the trip from Hull, and watching it turn at the end of the tracks is fun for the whole family. Unfortunately, some problems with the track in the last year or two has made the service intermittent. Otherwise, there are so many neat shops and cafes that just wandering down the main street will keep you happy for hours. Don’t forget to check out the pretty covered bridge on the north end of town, or sit by the river side and just enjoy the laid back pace of life.
Hours: Wander Wakefield at any time day, or night. But, if you are hungry, click here for Chez Eric’s hours: http://chezeric.ca/english/info.htm. I’ve never made it to the Blacksheep Inn, but this is a local legend for great bands and musical performances.
Five Favourite Facts:
- Covered bridges are used to protect wooden bridge structures, as an example, a bridge built entirely out of wood, without any protective coating, may last 10 to 15 years. Builders discovered that if the bridge’s underpinnings were protected with a roof, the bridge could stand for 70 or even 80 years.
- Wakefield Quebec was one of the first villages to be established along the Gatineau River and was founded in 1830 by mainly Irish immigrants. The town grew largely thanks to the lumber industry
- Chez Eric subscribes to the “slow food” movement. Slow Food is an international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986. It was promoted as an alternative to fast food and strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem
- The original covered bridge at this site was constructed in 1915 and was destroyed by fire in 1984. The current bridge is quite recent, having been completed in 1997
- Apparently, many covered bridges in Vermont were considered to be great venues for boxing rings….would love to know if a boxing match ever took place at the Wakefield Bridge!