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The Way We Were

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the July 13, 2011 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Citizen spin on cycle ride to W'field over the top

Foreword by Louise Schwartz

This column was originally published in Ottawa's "The Citizen" on Saturday, Sept. 23, 1899, under the headline, "Chitchat for the Wheelman." There was no byline.

Without any exception the most attractive wheeling trip in this neighbourhood from a scenic standpoint is that to Wakefield. This outing will carry the rider through some of the most picturesque landscape that could well be imagined - through what has been not inaptly termed "the Switzerland of Canada."

While the trip north from Ottawa has the disadvantage of being for half the way at least on a gradual incline, with the wellknown Chelsea hill two-thirds of a mile in length, up which few cyclists dare to ride, there is always to be kept in mind the compensatory circumstance that on the return journey the cyclist will be able to coast not infrequently and will at all stages have a comparatively easy time.

The Way We Were
Students and their teacher from La Peche School Senior Room, with bicycles of the period. (circa 1897). Photo courtesy Gatineau Valley Historical Society.

The distance to Wakefield is twenty-two miles.

The road runs through an undulating and beautiful country, very often being skirted on either side by the most exquisite foliage.

The wheeling surface as a rule is exceptionally good; the worst stretch, sandy and stony, lies for two miles between Chelsea and Kirk's Ferry

In one of the early runs described in this series, the route as far as Ironsides four miles distant was detailed.

Continuing along the Chelsea Road what is known as the Chelsea Hill is soon encountered.

This is a steep climb for nearly a mile, the village of Chelsea being two miles beyond. Chelsea is quite a summer town, having many handsome cottages and lawns

There are two hotels. Between Chelsea and Kirk's Ferry, the rider travels another five miles, passing for a considerable distance through most delightful woods.

Just before reaching Kirk's Ferry there is a most dangerous hill down which one must come to the village.

"Bicycles Go Slow" is the command exhibited on a sign at its commencement.

The road all down this steep decline turns and twists in a most erratic fashion. Just when the rider thinks he has got to the bottom an added turn discloses still a lower reach of road.

From Kirk's Ferry to the Cascades is four miles; from the Cascades to Wakefield is six more. All these places afford the lover of art in nature with room for gratifying his passion. As the river is skirted all the way nothing much more beautiful could possibly be imagined than the village of Wakefield, which, situated close beside the Gatineau River, nestles at the foot of hills which rise on every hand and whose skyline at sunrise and sunset presents a dazzling spectacle - one not soon forgotten.


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