Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa: a Hidden Honeymoon Corner
by Habeeb Salloum
A country inn with an interesting heritage, the Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa oozes with a modern re-invented historic charm set in the midst of spectacular scenery. Amid its green surroundings, it offers newlyweds a cozy and comfortable getaway encircled by virtually unspoiled nature. Its serene setting has made it a preferred hideaway for business functions and for romantic events such as anniversaries, honeymoons and weddings.
Along with Quebec hospitality and fine cuisine, the Inn has 27 comfortable rooms – more than a dozen are on the way – to attract honeymooners who would like a few days of relaxing comfort before beginning their new life. During their stay, should guests desire to participate in the life of the large cities, less than half an hour away is the heart of Ottawa, the capital of Canada.
The Wakefield Mill Inn, bordering the La Peche River on 24 acres of land within the natural beauty of the Gatineau Park, is built beside a 28 foot high picturesque waterfall. A converted stone mill, it was built in 1838 to produce flour for the farmers in the Gatineau and La Peche river valleys. In 2000, the husband and wife team of Robert Milling and Lynn Berthiaume fulfilled their dream of a lifetime and bought the mill and turned it into an inn which they are continually upgrading.
From its flour-producing era, the Inn retains some large dimension interior beams – now in the recreation area. Grain silos have been converted into guest rooms and the engine room is now the dining room. As well, one of the turbine rooms has been converted into a spa and the other into a wine cellar.
Due to this connection with the past, the Inn oozes with historic atmosphere and is the only accommodation in the area surrounded by the majesty of Gatineau Park. For honeymooners, Gatineau Park, just outside the doors of the Inn, is an extra bonus. It is a fine reflection of what this region in Quebec has to offer. A giant slab of virgin land measuring 363 sq km (140 sq mi), the Park is an open-air window to Canada’s National Capital Region. A magnificently green and superb nature reserve covering 35,600 ha (88,000 ac) of forest land, the Park encompasses 40 crystal-clear lakes and its forests contain 1,000 species of plants and 40 types of trees – 90% of which are maple. Across its wooded hills there are 250 km (155 mi) of hiking and biking trails and 12 picnic sites. The Park also offers cross-country and downhill skiing facilities, canoeing, dog sledding, snowshoeing trails, beaches and campgrounds.
Today a protected nature reserve, it has become vital to the oxygenation of Canada’s capital city. Year-round, some 1.5 million annual visitors take part in the Park’s outdoor activities or simply enjoy the serenity of its natural environment.
The small town of Wakefield where the Inn is located has become a sanctuary for artists and a year-round ‘jumping off town’ for outdoor lovers. “It’s a place from the movies!”, my travel companion remarked as we made our way to the town’s tourist steam train to take a ride to the town of Gatineau – a ride that anyone staying in the Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa should take to relive the yesteryears when steam train travel was the romantic mode of travel.
A charming country abode, the Inn’s 27 rooms, many with open-hearth fireplaces and views of the cascading waterfall, provide relaxed charm. For honeymooners and those seeking to relax and enjoy modern living as well as nature at its best, the Inn incorporates a full spa, and an outdoor river pool, plus all of what Gatineau Park has to offer. A serene retreat dominated by the gurgling waters of the La Peche River, it features a dining solarium serving gourmet regional cuisine, a charming lounge and spectacular scenic beauty. Above all are the friendliness and hospitality of the Inn’s staff, giving guests a feeling of happiness and comfort.
It is a place with a soothing and romantic atmosphere; a country spot called by some, ‘a nature lover’s earthly paradise’. “It fits well into the aura of this picture postcard historic town!” I thought, as we left to catch the steam train to the town of Gatineau.
As the train gently moved onward, I could hear music and singing in the distance. Soon the train’s own strolling minstrels, moving from coach to coach with their lively tunes, reached our coach. “Alouette, gentille Alouette, Alouette je te plumerai”, the voices of the minstrels joined by those all around us filled the air. Clowning their way past every seat as they continued their song, “Et la tête, et la tête, Alouette, Alouette, O-o-o-o-oh, Alouette, gentille Alouette”, they left us with a feeling of elation. It was a delightful episode in our journey.
Sixty-four kilometers (40 miles) and an hour and a half after leaving Wakefield, we were in Gatineau, with the voices of the minstrels still in our ears. Our joyful train ride ended a full day of exploration and pleasure – a day to remember.
The train ride was the icing on our memorable stay at Wakefield Mill Inn. I could see why honeymooners, seeking the peace and quiet of the countryside will enjoy staying in this romantic Inn. The Inn is a perfect abode for business functions, a fondly-remembered vacation, a well-planned wedding or for a fulfilling countryside honeymoon, especially if capped with a tourist steam train ride.
For More Information:
- Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa often offers specials combined with a train ride. 60 Mill Road, Wakefield, Quebec, Canada, J0X 3G0; (819) 459-1838 or (888) 567-1838; fax: (819) 459-1697; email: email@example.com; website: www.wakefieldmill.com.
- Gatineau Park Visitor Centre. 33 Scott Road, Chelsea, Quebec; (619) 827-2020 or (800) 465-1867; fax: (819) 827-6048; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Steam Train. 165 Deveault Street, Gatineau, Quebec J8Z 1S7; (819) 778-7246 or (800) 871-7246; email: email@example.com; website: www.steamtrain.ca.
- Outaouais Tourism. (800) 265-7822; website: www.outaouaistourism.com.
- Tour the largest cave on the vast Canadian Shield with Lafleche Adventure. 255 Route Principale, Val-des-Monts, QC, J8N 4B7; (819) 457-4033 or (877) 457-4033; fax: (819) 457-4327; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.aventurelafleche.ca.
- Ottawa Tourism. 130 Albert Street, Suite 1800, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4; (613) 237-5150 or (800) 363-4465; fax: (613) 237-7339; email: email@example.com; website: www.tourottawa.org.
About The Author: HABEEB SALLOUM is a Canadian author who grew up in Saskatchewan, joined the RCAF during the Second World War, and then worked for the Canadian Department of National Revenue for 36 years. For the last 22 years, he has been a full-time freelance writer and author specializing in food, history and travel. His new cookbooks are Bison Delights: Middle Eastern Cuisine, Western Style and The Arabian Nights Cookbook.
Photo credits: top photo courtesy Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa; other photos courtesy of the author.