Yesterday, Wednesday August 1st, I had a lunch date with my former colleagues at Industry Canada. I was delighted that what was supposed to be a quick meeting at the food court was turned into a proper reunion at a restaurant and that the organizer even remember that I love Thai food, so she reserved at La papaye verte (The Green Papaya) on Laurier right in front of the Museum of Civilization.
The old gang hasn’t changed, I apparently haven’t changed, and the work environment has changed. It was great to see everyone, catch up, laugh, and be reminded that I was lucky to work with those people for three years.
After work, I headed up to La Pêche (fishing), the community in the Gatineau hills where I lived for five years (one year in an apartment, one year renting my house, three years owning my house). The community has a number of villages, the biggest ones being Masham and Wakefield.
Wakefield is very picturesque and touristy. A popular thing for visitors to the National Capital Region to do is to take the steam train from Hull to Wakefield for a lunch at a quaint bistro and an afternoon of shopping in the boutiques. The steam train was having financial difficulties when I left and is not running this summer. I hope this is a temporary setback.
The drive to Wakefield along autoroute 5 was a little different as the autoroute is finally, after 30 years of planning, being extended. It used to stop at Tulip Valley, but not goes a few kilometres farther to Farmpoint, just before the grocery store. It will soon come all the way up to Wakefield and the junction with the 366 to Masham. There is no way that kind of road work won’t change life up in those sleepy little hamlets. Wakefield now has a Tim Hortons, a major sign that life is about to change radically.
I was early to meet my friend for dinner, so I decided to push on to Lascelles to see if the old homestead is still there. It is! There were cars parked out front, so I didn’t go up the laneway to get a better look at the house because I used to freak out when people did that.
Back in Wakefield, I parked outside the Black Sheep pub and grabbed an outside table at the Rutherford Bistro on the main floor of the pub. I had time to check out the menu before my friend arrived and was rather disappointed that my top two choices for dinner were sold out. I wound up having a decent buffalo chicken burger with delicious fries.
After gabbing for ages, I headed out to my friend’s house. She has been building it with her dad for six years as time and money are available. It is her dream home in her favourite place in the world.
The house is inspired by the Swiss chalet style, but is built with modern eco features, including walls lined with styrofoam and filled with concrete. The house feels really out in the middle of the bush, but she’s only a couple of minutes on a horrible dirt road from main highways and the autoroute. She can get to Ottawa in 25 minutes now and it will soon be no more than 20 minutes. The extra 10 minutes I had to drive to get to my house combined with the lack of services made a future there unappealing.
A lot of people, including politicians, have cottages in the hills and I think that the extended autoroute will bring more people to have their full-time home in the hills. Even without the autoroute, it takes much less time to commute from Wakefield to downtown Ottawa than it does to go from Orleans or Kanata (the eastern and western edges of the city respectively) to downtown.
The drive back from Wakefield was not without incident and I will get into that once I’ve caught up on sleep.
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