Wakefield is a small town just north of Ottawa in Quebec. In the early 1990’s Wakefield didn’t have much to offer but in the last 15 years or so it has become a great little destination. It has a nice, quaint collection of cafes, boutiques, and bakeries all situated along the beautiful Gatineau River. It also boasts the popular Mouton Noir (The Blacksheep Inn) where many famous and up-and-coming performers play as well as the historic Le Moulin (The Mill), an upscale inn built around the original MacLaren Grist Mill (built in 1838). Although it has gone up for sale recently, the Wakefield Steam-train, up until a few years ago, used to puff gallantly back and forth between Ottawa and Wakefield bringing Ottawa tourists out to enjoy Wakefield for a day. Its line has become a focal point in the town and I hope that it will start up again soon.
Normally when I visit Wakefield, I spend an hour or two having a bite to eat, meandering along the main street, and possibly going into one or two shops. But today was a different and a more enjoyable than usual experience. After lunch I headed along Chemin Mill to Le Moulin. It winds its way out of Wakefield along the fast-moving La Peche River (the same water that goes through the dam at the mill). After about a kilometer I found myself eying a lovely patio area in front of the inn and wishing I could sit for a glass of wine. The kids, however, had other ideas. The road continued up over a bridge and headed off into the hills and a small sign indicated that a cemetery was in the same direction. Never one to turn down the chance for an adventure, and a good photo opportunity, I followed quickly on their heels.
We first passed the MacLaren House, a gorgeous, old home built around 1860 by the MacLaren family, which sits majestically on a hill overlooking the mill and river. The road then twists upward into a steep hill lined with trees and emerges between fields of long grasses. Ahead is the small cemetery at the end of the road nestled against the side of another hill. Called the MacLaren cemetery, this peaceful spot is the resting place of several important Canadians and recipients of the Order of Canada. To name a few, Lester B. Person, Canada’s Prime Minister between 1963 and 1969, and Malak Karsh a foremost photographer in Ottawa and brother of Yousef Karsh. Pearson’s grave was surprisingly humble, no larger or more ornate than any other in the cemetery. If it hadn’t been for the simple monument just outside of the cemetery grounds commemorating Pearson, you might not even know his grave was there.
I could have stayed there for hours enjoying the sun, the summer breezes weaving through the grasses, the chirping of the crickets, and the large fluffy clouds moving through a brilliant blue sky. Perhaps Prime Minister Pearson thought the same thing upon visiting the same spot many years before. I can certainly see why he chose it as his final resting place. Wakefield and its surroundings became more to me today than it had before. Suddenly it was a place whose history became more obvious thus giving it an air of importance which I’d never noticed. If you’re ever up the Wakefield way, be sure to take a walk, a farther walk than just the main street. I think you’ll find it very rewarding. For more photos from my day than I can post here, please see my “Quebec” set on my Flickr account.