Quebec, Wakefield and Lac Philippe, August 16, 17 &18, 2008

1 03 2011

"There's a Little Place I Love in the Gatineau's..."

It felt weird to drive through Montreal without stopping, even though we have been there a bunch of times and had spent 3 days there the month before. We also went straight through Ottawa and Gatineau, but stopped half an hour later when we got to Wakefield.

The Legendary Black Sheep Inn

Wakefield is a wee, artsy town in Quebec that is English speaking. The town is famous for being super hippie and for the live music venue of Black Sheep Inn, who book really quality acts, which CBC radio sometimes broadcast live. The other thing Wakefield is famous for is a red covered foot bridge with a swim hole underneath it. We parked around the corner and went and saw Mike Plume at the Black Sheep Inn. He sang a song about Canada called “(8:30 Newfoundland) This is Our Home” and having recently experienced so many places in the song made me feel patriotic. He also mentioned the swim hole in the song—-”There is a little place I love in the Gatineau’s, with a covered bridge and a swimming hole” so we resolved to go there the next day. My only complaint about the Black Sheep Inn, and indeed Wakefield in general, is they serve the worst cider ever! Mystique—-the cider that tastes like lightly artificially flavoured sugar water.

Step in Downtown Wakefield

A Floor That is Also a Window

We just slept in the same lot we parked in. The next day we explored downtown Wakefield, which is only a couple blocks long so that didn’t take a lot of time. I did really enjoy the Pipolinka Bakery and bought what might be the best apple pie ever made there, which was reasonably priced, too. It almost made up for the Mystique of the place.

We had lunch at the Wakefield General Store (macaroni and cheese), in the cafe upstairs that had glass in the floor so you could see people shopping below, and I finally talked Step into washing the van. But it was SO dirty we barely got even the top layer of grime off, even though we were at the car wash for over an hour.


We actually had to drive to the swim hole because it’s on the other side of Gatineau River. Fortunately we met some people on the way and found out we weren’t allowed to skinny dip before we tried it. It was a hot day but for some reason only one other couple was swimming. The water was mild and there was a really strong circular current that I would let pull me out towards the rapids and then I would swim back and do it again. Some people on the bridge were yelling at me but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. After I had my fill I went and hung out on a rock with Step and we watched kids jump off the bridge. We got dressed and walked up to the foot of the bridge where a guy was tending flowers. It turned out he knew Lindsay, who we had met in St. John’s, and he told us the water was really high today. Usually, the swim hole is protected by a sort of fence of river rocks which keep people from being pulled into the rapids, but because the water was over the rock fence, no one was swimming. The people had been yelling at me to get away from the rapids. So I had been flirting with death and I hadn’t even known! Ignorance, in this case, was a lot of fun at the time, but makes for a disturbing recollection.

Deadly Rapids?

Swimming at Twilight

Liz and Ed were camping at Lac Philippe, which was nearby in Parc de la Gatineau, so we decided to spend the night there. It would be a good opportunity to visit, since we hadn’t seen much of them when we stayed with them at their straw bale house. We were lucky to get a spot as the campground was well attended that evening. It was a very clean and modern park, with the nicest laundry I had ever seen in a camp ground. We invited Liz and Ed and their kids over and we made them blow torch natchos, which Alec and Mavis really liked, except Alex said we should have had more cheese. Then we all went to the lake and went swimming again, and the kids showed off by jumping off the lifeguard’s chair.

The next morning we made another quick stop in Wakefield, for more pie, stopped in Ottawa for spicy noodles, and then headed down highway 17.

Behind the General Store

Quebec, Quebec City Again, August 15 & 16, 2008

21 02 2011

Quebec: Still Partying After 400 Years

The Stylish Cafe Cosmos Bar

When we arrived in Quebec City for the second time on our Cross Canada adventure, it was Friday night and the 400 year celebration was still going strong. Unlike our last visit, the weather was warm and dry and Grande Allee E was buzzing with partyers. Sean and Evalyne lived outside of Montreal but were on their way to camp past where we had come from on the St. Lawrence. They were running late, but that was okay because we managed to get a table on the sidewalk across from the giant disco ball, at a restaurant called Le Cosmos Cafe, and ate a nice dinner while we waited for them. I had a steak. It wasn’t great but it tasted better because the design of the restaurant was so interesting and modern. That shouldn’t make a difference, but somehow it does.

Beach Party!

We were planning on going to a free concert at the Baie de Beauport. When Sean and Evalyne arrived we walked a few blocks and caught a bus. Since we had spent a day in Beauport, we should have figured out it was quite far away, but somehow we totally zoned out on this fact. It took forever to get to the beach where the concert was being held, and even after we got off the bus we had to walk over a bridge and then around the barriers. As we approached the party we could hear Bran Van 3000 playing their hit, “Drinking in LA”, so we knew we had basically missed them and DJ Champion, who I love. All that was left was DJ Moby, who Step and I are not the hugest fans of. Also, all the canteens were completely out of beer and wine, so there were no adult refreshments available. We hung out a bit anyway, for the novelty of the large screens, video ball, light show, bonfires, and thousands of people dancing on the dark beach (did I mention Quebec took it’s 400th birthday seriously?). Also, it was nice to catch up with Sean. But it was super late and we were tired so we left after less than an hour. We had to line up for the bus home, and didn’t get back into the city until 3am. We just drove the van a couple of blocks, and found a flat, unrestricted parking space near Vieux Quebec, and stealth camped under the shade of a tree.

Stealth Camping

The next morning we went out for a great bacon and egg breakfast at a place called Cafe Moka, and I went back to the Croc store and bought the fleece lined crocs I couldn’t bear to buy the first time I was there. They only had red ones left—you snooze, you lose, or end up with red fleece lined Crocs.

We were on a serious time budget, and we wanted to spend some time in Wakefield, so we had to boot out of there. I felt uplifted yet melancholy as we left Quebec, and I played “Hey Jude” really loud as we drove down the highway, to match my bittersweet emotions.

Corn Grows in Downtown Quebec