When the proprietor of Pension Wunderbar Hotel said everything is within walking distance, she wasn't joking. Live entertainment, bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores are moments away, no matter where you stay. All are bilingual (English and French-speaking) and always seem to be bustling, despite the small population.
Wakefield is picturesque year round, as it's situated on the Gatineau River. In the winter, the normally shy deer expand their comfort zone and bask in the sun, glistening on the frozen river. Warmer weather also has its perks, as the bridges and forests create scenic walking or biking routes.
It's easily accessible from Ottawa, Canada's capital city, and is quite a contrast from Ottawa's frenzy of political and social affairs. Although Ottawa is notorious for record-breaking snowfalls, Wakefield is the closest destination for skiing and snowboarding.
Down the street from Pension Wunderbar Hotel is Ski Vorlage, which operates 12 runs seven days a week. There are days when it seems like you have privately rented the slopes, but never on a Monday; their 2-for-1 special is the real draw. On Mondays, it's possible to rent skis and purchase two half-day tickets (valid for four hours) for only $51! That's equivalent to one half-day ticket at Mont Tremblant in Montreal, Quebec.
The chalet and lodge is fully licensed, but carving your way there builds quite the appetite. Instead, try Chez Eric: a cozy, but elegant restaurant with options that accommodate all dietary requirements. Prices range from $10-$16, but the attentive service and calming ambience is well worth it.
If you find you are more in the mood for a night in, each room in Pension Wunderbar Hotel has a fully equipped kitchen, satellite cable, and a wood-burning fireplace in the more accommodating apartments. Since Wakefield is rare in that it can be a day or week-long trip, it's also within driving distance to Gatineau Park and Casino Lac Leamy.
But any resident will tell you the Black Sheep Inn (Auberge Mouton Noir) is as far as you need to go. It was nominated the best place to hear music in 2008, and has featured performances from a wide range of acts including Feist, Natalie McMaster, Sarah Slean, Arcade Fire, Buck 65, and more. Every act is carefully picked to go along with their famous "kick ass poutine."
You can easily access all of these places from Ottawa by crossing the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge from King Edward Avenue, and continuing north on Autoroute 5 in Hull. It ends shortly before Wakefield, so you must follow Route 105 the rest of the way.
If you aren't convinced, the demand at Wakefield Boulangerie speaks for itself, as it sometimes outweighs the stock - if the scent of fresh bread and baked goods doesn't lure you, then you're the exception!
Tanya Miller from Ottawa, Ontario, lives for writing and travel. She is in the journalism and psychology program at Carleton University, and has a wide range of interests, featured in One80 Youth Newspaper, VoX, The Charlatan and Centretown News.
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