To experience the charms of the quaint village of Wakefield, I combined my unique transportation experience on the Hull-Chelsea Wakefield Steam Train with a lunch experience at the historic Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa. Ali, the Mill’s maitre d’, came to pick up a number of passengers from the steam train, all of whomwere going to spend an entire weekend in this famous country retreat. I on the other hand had barely an hour and a half to acquaint myself with one of the most historically significant places in Wakefield.
The Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa welcomes you
The Inn’s origins date back all the way to 1838 when a Scottish immigrant by the name of William Fairbairn decided to construct a stone mill in order to mill local grains for farm families in the Gatineau and LaPêche river valleys. After the sale of the mill to James MacLaren, the mill was expanded to include a saw mill, woolen mill and general store.
The whole complex was ravaged by fire in 1910 and a flour mill was rebuilt, but the woolen mill stopped operating. The flour mill continued until 1939 when larger mechanized flour mills started displacing smaller-scale local mills. It was converted into a grist mill to produce livestock feed for local farmers and operated until 1980 when it was turned into a heritage museum by the Gatineau Historical Society.
Some of the historic mechanisms adorn the property
In 2000, a local husband and wife team, Robert Milling and Lynn Berthiaume, realized their life-long dream and restored the vacant building and turned it into today’s inn, spa and conference centre. The renovation project was extensive and required the approval of a variety of agencies, including the National Capital Commission which owns the land on which the mill is located.
Several unique features of the original building have been preserved: the heavy wooden beams in the reception area were used to support the grain silos above, and several guest rooms (numbers 205, 206, 306 and 307) are now located in the former grain silos.
The comfortable lounge