Madeline and I had a leisurely celebration of our 60th wedding anniversary this week, sampling the splendid amenities of the rustically elegant Wakefield Mill Hotel. Passing up on its notable spa facilities, we settled for casually strolling alongside the thunderous Wakefield Falls and relaxing in our Eco River Lodge. Breakfast served beside the Falls in the comfortable Muse Restaurant was a delightful treat, both for the quality fare and the charming spectacle of the swiftly cascading falls beside us.
A special treat was watching a very thin but patient heron gliding up the river to hunt for his own breakfast delicacies just below the falls.
Driving out to the Wakefield river shoreline, we enjoyed strolling along its firmly built boardwalk – something new to us since our last visit – and dropping in to shopping boutiques in search of a suitable souvenir. Our lunchtime choice was the large and unexpectedly non-traditional Le Hibou restaurant. We marveled at the eccentric jumble of seating arrangements – everything from bar stools to church pews – and the exotic sounding menu selections. Choosing to be sure but not adventurous, we wisely opted for mussels and French fries, which were just fine.
For an afternoon outing, we decided to drive northwards on highway 105, a route we had not ventured upon for many decades. With no particular destination in mind, the drive was enjoyable enough as fine weather prevailed, though its windy curves, hilly terrain and fairly constant flow of speedy vehicles left little opportunity for admiring the landscape.
On one of the first times that we drove up that highway, we made an obligatory stopover to have a drink at the Kazabazua Inn, then celebrated as “the Longest Bar in the Gatineau.” As recorded in the delightfully entitled “Low Down to Hull and Back News,” the super-sized bar was run for 37 years until 1994 by Joe Payette. The news article, written by Bob Mellor, an old friend from National Press Club days, told how Payette catered especially to hunters and fishermen, and used part of the bar to display local fish which he sold to his customers. The bar closed down in 1994, and later burned down.
Kazabazua on this trip marked for us a superlative of another kind as “the longest detour of the Gatineau,“ as highway 105 traffic had to be diverted because of a serious motor accident. We never did find out any accident details but had to wonder why as we rumbled along an extremely dusty side road for miles and miles behind hundreds of cars and trucks until finally able to rejoin the highway. On our return drive along the same dusty route an hour or so later, the detour took a full 40 minutes. We had carried on as far as Gracefield where we paused at the casse-croute LaPatarie for a nourishing lunch, including the biggest club sandwich I have ever seen.
Capping off our getaway celebration was a sumptuous dinner expertly prepared and served in the Muse restaurant and shared with friends Janet Long and Jean laFlamme and our cherished daughter Dianne. Finishing touch was a complimentary round of champagne kindly offered by Wakefield Mill Hotel to toast our most enjoyable 60th anniversary.