Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where or where has Wakefield gone?

Today, our bike club KNBC had a ride from Ottawa to Wakefield Quebec. Wakefield is a beautiful little town on the Gatineau river, well known for its bakeries and tourist steam train.

I rode in on the highway 105. having missed a turn and found the group at the large green pub. There was not a seat to be had. I am not sure where the group had lunch but I found a spot at Chez Eric, after a delicious lunch of salad and quiche and local beer, my riding partner and I cycled to find our group only to see the Wakefield steam train chug slowly down the tracks, people waving as it passed.

As charming as Wakefield is with its steam train, and lovely restaurants, it is no longer a 'real' town. There remains a hospital and a bank and a few churches that give it the vestige of a town but I have the impression they are like a movie set. What used to be an outfitters now sells high end hiking clothing, and the shops are curio shops, or antique stores that sell bric a brac to the well heeled.

Even the general store has become "touristified" and no longer sells useful items like wool socks, or rainboots. While such picturesque little towns charm their visitors, I was saddened by the loss of Wakefield. Wakefield as a town has disappeared. It has been replaced with a disney like fantasy town with quaint restaurants and cafes and the omnipresent steam train. There are no family restaurants and no stores where one can purchase practical items.

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