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"In addition to English and French, you can speak 'strine and if you are a Brit, or a Monty Python fan, you can order spam, Spam and SPAM."
- Peter Grace

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Beautiful Quebec
by Peter Grace, Wakefield, Quebec, Canada
August, 1999

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Would you like a mixture of France and Britain at a beautiful North American location? Then visit Sentiers(French for Trails) Carman Trails at Wakefield, Quebec. It is 25km(16 miles) north of Ottawa, 100 miles(160km) north of Syracuse, NY., 200km(120 miles) west of Montreal and 400km(250 miles) east of Toronto. There is a budget bus service from Toronto or Montreal.


In addition to English and French, you can speak 'strine and if you are a Brit, or a Monty Python fan, you can order spam, Spam and SPAM. If you are a carnivore, you can order Caribou Stew for which the meat is flown to special order from Baffin Island in Canada's newest province Nunavut. If you are a vegetarian, there is a great choice, much of which has been grown in Carman Trails' own garden.

The eighty acres of Carman Trails has a common boundary with Gatineau Park which is a National Park with 270 kilometres(160 miles) of trails which offer excellent walking in Summer and Fall and World Class cross country skiing in Winter. One of the World Loppit(Championship) races is held in Gatineau Park. To explore the trails and park you can rent mountain bikes from Carman Trails or do what I did - walk. There are some spectacular lookouts. I recommend the view from the top of cliffs overlooking Carman Lake. Take a trail to the Notch and then climb following some blazes and you come to a marvellous view over Carman and Brown Lakes. Don't go too near the edge as it's 400 feet down. You can then climb back down to the Notch and walk to Carman Lake and look up at the cliffs where you will likely see turkey vultures wheeling on the up-draughts. If you are a twitcher, or just an uninformed birdwatcher like me, you will see kingbirds and crested woodpeckers.

Nearby is Brown Lake and if you want a change from walking or biking, rent a canoe from Carman Trails and paddle from one end of Carman Lake through a swamp full of snapping turtles to Brown Lake where you can skinny dip with little chance of an audience. There is much wild life - it is an Exploration Zone within Gatineau Park - but you must be very patient. I have happened upon bears, porcupines and foxes but only by chance.

You can walk to caves and lakes or to the village of Wakefield which is on a wide bend in the Gatineau River. There are some cafes in which to relax and some bars in which to relax even more. In the evenings, The Black Sheep (Le Mouton Noir) is the place to be particularly when they have live music. Sometimes this is provided by internationally known artists. I just missed a show by a Scot turned Aussie, Eric Bogle.

How did they used to travel here from New York?

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