Gatineau River Heritage Paddle: A Guide

Wakefield (see Origin of Name and Claim to Fame below)

Select location on map below for more information or return to Guide menu.

  • William Fairbairn House

    William Fairbairn House

    William Fairbairn House

    The house was built by William Fairbairn in the 1860s in a Greek Revival style popular at the time. William and his wife, Jean Wanless, immigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1817. They arrived in Wakefield in 1834.

    Members of the Fairbairn family lived in the house until the early 1900s. It was moved twice; first in 1992 to make way for new road construction, and again in 2005 to clear building lots for a new condominium complex. That's when the Municipality of La Pêche saved the house from demolition by the developer and moved it to the present location in Hendrick Park.

    The house is now undergoing renovations, soon to fill its new role as a heritage centre for the Gatineau Valley. See more at www.fairbairn.ca.

  • Wakefield Covered Bridge

    Wakefield Covered Bridge

    Wakefield Covered Bridge

    The covered bridge was built in 1915 at the northern edge of the then village and was one of the first bridges to link the two shores of the Gatineau River. It was a one-way restricted use crossing with a great attraction for tourists, and as a romantic haven for lovers. Sadly, the bridge was completely destroyed by fire in 1984. The case concerning its mysterious burning has never been solved.

    The almost miraculous ten-year re-building of the bridge by volunteers, on the original foundations, achieved through extensive fund-raising, was completed in 1997. It was inaugurated by the Governor General in 1998. The new bridge has a restricted use, exclusively reserved for pedestrians and cyclists.

  • Tommy Douglas cottage

    Former cottage of Tommy Douglas

    Former cottage of Tommy Douglas

    It was possibly built in the early 1900s, and was owned by the Misses Lindsay, who ran the Wakefield Inn at one stage. There were various owners, but it was bought by Tommy and Irma Douglas and frequented by them in the 1970s. Tommy Douglas was voted the "Greatest Canadian" in 2009 in a national CBC contest. He was the Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944-61, the Leader of the Federal NDP from 1961-1971 and is considered the father of medi-care, by introducing the first public health care, in the 1950s in Saskatchewan.

  • Presbyterian Manse

    Presbyterian Manse (now a private residence)

    Presbyterian Manse

    The manse is situated about 50 yards from the west bank of the river in front of a sandy beach historically used for swimming and picnics by generations of villagers. It is clapboard construction, two and a half stories, with a wide verandah and railing along the front and one side. The land was sold to the Presbyterian Church by David Maclaren for $40 dollars in 1867 and the building served as a minister's residence till the 1950s.

  • Wakefield General Store

    Chamberlin's General Store (now Wakefield General Store)

    Chamberlin's General Store

    It was built in 1910 by Daniel Morrison, who was a sales clerk at MacLaren General Store. The stock was bought in a bankruptcy sale by Rufus Chamberlin in 1925. He ran it along with his son Charlie for over fifty years. In 1970, Keith and Kay Nesbitt family bought it. They enlarged it and their family still operates this busy 'typical' country store.

  • Doctors' House

    Doctors' House (now private residence)

    Doctors' House

    Two doors south of the Wakefield General Store was the home of the first doctor in Wakefield, Dr. Stephen Wright (a nephew of Philemon Wright) from 1860 on. Now a white house with black trim, local historians believe there is a log house under the clapboard and newer siding. It was owned by a succession of doctors after Dr. Wright, including Dr. Falls, Dr. Stevenson and then Dr. Harold Geggie, who sold it to the current owners.

  • Railway Station

    Former Wakefield Railway Station (now Pot-au-feu Restaurant)

    Former Wakefield Railway Station

    The rail line was completed to Wakefield in 1892, being a great boon to businesses in the village, as well as commuters to Ottawa for work, school and shopping. There were four trains daily from Ottawa during the week, and two on Sundays. This station was built in 1929, and replaced the original one, which sat where the steam train terminal and turntable is now located.

    Former Wakefield Railway Station

    Back then, it was focal point of the community - to meet or send off family members commuting to jobs in the city, a hang-out for youth with dreams of adventure in far-off places, or for others a place to watch the comings and goings of the village. It still retains a station appearance in its role as a restaurant since 1970.

    Former Wakefield Railway Station

    Not quite visible from the river, but worth a visit is a lovely turn of the century mansion with Victorian design elements at 801 chemin Riverside. Dr. Hans Stevenson built "The Maples" in 1896 on the west side of Riverside Drive. Now a bed and breakfast called "Les Trois Erables", the building at one time housed the office, dispensary, examination & operating rooms for the doctor`s practice, as well as the family residence. Dr. Harold Geggie, Dr. Stevenson's assistant, purchased the property after the former's death in 1911.The house remained as the doctors' home in the Geggie family until 1980 when it was sold to a series of owners for operation as a "bed and breakfast".

  • MacLaren Manor House

    Former MacLaren Manor House (now Le Manoir, a seniors' residence)

    Former MacLaren Manor House

    This was built in the 1850s for David MacLaren, with orchard and farm buildings behind. It became the Manor House Guest House in the 1940s after the MacLaren family left the village. In 1950 with community funds and government support it was converted into the Gatineau Memorial Hospital under the leadership of Dr. Harold Geggie. His three sons became doctors and also worked at the hospital, becoming known by their first names to minimize confusion. They were Dr. Hans, Dr. Stuart, and Dr. David. In 1990, the hospital was relocated and the building became a seniors' residence.

  • MacLaren General Store

    Former MacLaren General Store (replaced by Au Coeur du Village)

    MacLaren Store

    A new structure called Au Coeur du Village has replaced the Maclaren General Store on the west side of the street. MacLaren's was the hub of the community from 1848. The store sold dry goods and groceries, fresh farm produce, and men's clothing, boots, and shoes; in time it added the services of a tailor, a milliner, and a seamstress. It burned in the disastrous fire of 1941.

    MacLaren Store

    The building to the north, still standing, once served as a duplex for employees of MacLaren in the 1870s.

  • Temperance Inn

    Former Temperance Inn (replaced by the Black Sheep Inn)

    Former Temperance Inn

    The current building sits on land first occupied by Seth Cates' Temperance Inn in 1850s. Later dismantled and rebuilt as the present structure, it was previously Chateau Diotte and then Chateau Pearson. In other words, an inn has stood on this site for 160 years.

    Black Sheep Inn

    The Black Sheep Inn website describes itself as a humble jukejoint divebar tavern that has been around for more than 15 years as a music venue.

  • Patterson General Store

    Cross General Store (formerly Patterson General Store and now the Jamboree Store)

    Cross General Store

    This property is was the site of an early log schoolhouse, the first Presbyterian church, and then Patterson General Store from the 1880s. It was destroyed in the fire of 1904 and rebuilt. The Jamboree Gift Store which now occupies the large building we see on the northern point was formerly the Cross General Store for many years, and then served various other purposes including a dress shop, an art gallery, and a cabinet maker's shop.

  • United Church

    Wakefield United Church (formerly St. Andrew's Presbyterian)

    Wakefield United Church

    Most houses in the centre of the village are 100 years or more, including this brick church, which was replaced after the fire of 1904.

  • Massey-Harris Farm Implement Store

    Place 1870, former Massey-Harris Farm Implement Store

    Place 1870

    The two-storey grey building and duplex in the Place 1870 complex at the corner of Valley Drive, was originally owned by the Earle family and has been the site of many different activities.

    Early on there was a farm machinery business and hardware run by the Earles on the main floor, and an early theatre for lantern slide shows and early movies, town hall and municipal meeting place on the second floor. More recently it housed an antique store, a newspaper office and artist's studio. Now the main floor is home to the Kaffe 1870 pub, and a gift shop. It remained in Earle family until the 1970s.

    Place 1870

    The duplex (around the corner) is said to be the oldest still standing structure in the village.

  • Earle Residence

    Robert Earle House (now a restaurant and pub)

    Robert Earle House

    On the opposite corner was the Earle's residence, built in the 1880s. It has been operating as a restaurant for some 30 years under different names; until spring 2012 it was known as Cafe Molo.


    Robert Earle House

    On the opposite corner was the Earle's residence, built in the 1880s. It has been operating as a restaurant

  • Church of the Good Shepherd

    Church of the Good Shepherd

    Church of the Good Shepherd

    This attractive Anglican church was built in 1919 to replace an earlier church further south.

  • Rockhurst Hill

    South to Rockhurst Hill

    Many houses in the south stretch of riverfront towards Rockhurst Hill Road were built by Robert Earle around 1920. All of the steep-roofed houses visible at the bottom of Rockhurst Hill were built as cottages in the late 1800s, once train service became available. They are now year-round residences.

  • Orange Hall

    Orange Hall (now a private residence)

    Orange Hall

    Another visible red brick riverside building is the former Orange Hall at the south end of the village, where the road crosses the railway tracks and the old Rockhurst train station once stood. Orange Hall was-built around an existing house around the late 1800s and was operated as an Orange lodge until the 1960s.

    A good proportion of the Protestant male population belonged to the Orange order, former Northern Irish who supported the cause of William of Orange against Catholicism. Each July 12, in Wakefield a parade of pipes and drums followed a symbolic "King Billy" on a white horse.

  • Copeland Ferry

    Former Copeland's Ferry Site

    William Copeland owned land on both sides of river, with his own farmhouse located further south. His ferry operation was the mainstay for people on the east side of the river until the bridge constructed. Copeland's ferry, also known as a scow, was not a cable ferry as others down river were, but used the movement of the currents and eddy.


Origin of Name
The name Wakefield was marked on the map in 1794 when surveyors were laying out townships and was established as a village in 1843. Wakefield, like the adjoining township of Hull and Masham, were named for places in northern England.

Claim to Fame
This is a historic village that has always been a popular tourist destination.