Well, I’m not doing a very good job at catching up at on blog posts about my various adventures over the last month or so. I think the task has built up into something unmanageable in my mind and so I keep putting it off. It is also possible that my Monday-Wednesday-Friday posting schedule no longer works with my current busy vs. slack times. As evidenced by the fact that I am writing this post on a Tuesday! I’m going to try to “bank” a few posts and see if that helps me catch up.
My last “adventure” post was about my tours of the Parliament East Block and the Supreme Court buildings at the end of August. Since then I have:
- Toured the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park
- Watched a crazy soapbox derby in Montreal
- Attended Almonte Fibrefest
- Spent nearly a week in Bermuda
Which now that I list it all out like that seems like a lot to fit into one month! I also attended a wedding last weekend, the first wedding for people “my age” that I’ve been to. I’m not going to post about that, though, since it I don’t know how the bride & groom would feel about me putting photos of their wedding on the open Internet!
I’m going to try to catch-up one event at a time until I am current again. I’m also hoping to start writing these posts in advance, which should make actual posting days a little less stressful if I happen to get busy.
First, the Mackenzie King Estate, which I visited back in early September as part of my post-defense, get-out-into-nature day. I planned the day as a way to unwind from the stress of preparing for and then surviving my thesis defense. It was also a way to force myself to get out of my apartment and explore Gatineau Park, which I had been meaning to do for awhile and kept putting off.
William Lyon Mackenzie King was Canada’s 10th Prime Minister, and our longest-serving one at 22 non-continuous years in office. He was PM during the 20s, 30s and 40s and so saw Canada through parts of the Depression and WWII. He lived in Laurier House in Ottawa (which I also visited this summer), but he also had a country estate in what later became Gatineau Park. Mackenzie King built the estate up slowly, starting out camping on the land and then building a few cottages for his family and friends to stay in: They are compact little buildings, cleverly designed and with beautiful details like the yellow siding. They also have a great view of a small lake, complete with boathouse. It must have been an amazing retreat from the city.
The Estate is free to visitors (you do pay for parking) and they have done a great job of creating displays inside the buildings to give you some idea of what it would have been like to spend time here. These smaller cottages on the lake are to the right as you come from the parking lot, along a path that displays quotes from Mackenzie King in a way that enhances the forest scenery rather than distracting from it:
To the left along this same path is the other half of the Estate, a larger farmhouse that Mackenzie King had built while he was PM. This building houses a small exhibit on the second floor, with a Tearoom on the main floor. Mackenzie King apparently brought other heads of state here, and the grounds have two ornamental gardens as well as a collection of ruins he collected and brought back to the Estate.
I strolled all around the grounds and then popped inside to visit the exhibit on the second floor. They had a few beautiful textile pieces as part of the exhibits. There was a log cabin quilt in one of the cottages, and a re-created embroidered quilt (the original was made by Mackenzie King’s sister) in the main house.
Of course, I couldn’t resist the tea room 🙂 I stopped for tea and a pastry (despite the heat of the day) and a lemonade, before wandering down a forest path for a little hike.
The Estate is so well maintained and well worth a visit if you have even a passing interest in Canadian history. It is also worth visiting just for the tea room, if you happen to be in Gatineau Park, and the gardens.
After leaving the Estate I drove up to Champlain lookout for a great view of the Ottawa River valley:
I also stopped at Pink’s Lake on my way out of the Park for another hike. I was hoping for a view of Ottawa itself, but I don’t think any point in Gatineau Park offers a view of the city. It was probably a mistake to try to cram Pink’s Lake into my day since by that point I was very hot and quite tired. I did see a little turtle on the lake though, which made it totally worth it:
I definitely plan to return to Gatineau Park soon, especially now that the fall colours have come in. The Mackenzie King Estate Tearoom closes at the end of the month, so I may try to give that a repeat visit as well 🙂 I can never resist a good tea room.