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Phil Jenkins

How I got here

Stories on how people found your way to the Gatineau Hills written by Chelsea writer Phil Jenkins.

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the March 14, 2018 issue. Reprinted with permission.

The closest place to Scotland in Canada

By Phil Jenkins

Bobby Watt
From the Scottish Isle of Arran to La Pˆche, stonemason and entertainer Bobby Watt has called the Gatineau Hills home for the last 22-years. He said he'll never leave. Photo courtesy Bobby Watt.

Twenty-two years ago this month, Bobby Watt, who was living in Whitby at the time, was asked to bring himself and his crew to Ottawa and help rescue the stonework of the Parliament Buildings. A Scottish stonemason from the Isle of Arran who, like many a Scot before him emigrated to Canada as a young man, Bobby and wife, Alison, began living a shuttle existence between the capital (during the week) and Whitby (weekends), with relieving injections of single malt at the nearby Manx pub. It was in the Manx that Bobby first heard of the Black Sheep. Himself a recording musician with a big song in his big chest, he set out to visit the musical Mecca, got Lost in Hull (good title for a song) and, the bridge being out at Farm Point, was diverted down the River Road. As he traced his way along that beautiful stretch, he experienced a heart-tugging flashback. "There was no Canadian place that reminded me of Scotland as much as that road did, and still does," he said in an enduring Scots accent as strong as the man himself. Discovering he was a day early for the concert he wanted to hear, a consolation meal was suggested in the Temperance restaurant (now Rutherford's). Through the big window, the Gatineau Hills across the river were in their autumnal glory, lit by the setting sun. "Man," Watt enthused, "I could live here." The waiter, (who was a sculptor, as it happened), retrieved and handed him a current Low Down, opened to the page with the House of the Hills feature. The property had two acres on a cul-de-sac, a cathedral ceiling, and a Jacuzzi - all for the price of a basement apartment in Ottawa.

And the very next day, Watt drove back up into Low Down country, and knocked on the door of that house. When a man in an Ottawa Police Dive Team T-shirt answered the door, Watt, who had been on the corresponding Toronto team, knew it was meant to be. "Twenty-two years," said Watt, "and we will never, ever leave this beautiful village, and its beautiful people."


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