Located near the Outaouais village of Wakefield, Quebec, on 24 acres in Gatineau Park, the Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa (Le Moulin) is just 25 minutes, by car, north of Ottawa.
The stone mill was built at MacLaren Falls, in 1838, to grind grain into flour. It stopped operating in 1980.
"It had electricity before Ottawa did," says Robert Milling. "In 2000, my wife, Lynn Berthiaume, and I restored the empty mill into a six-storey heritage inn."
Wakefield's Eco River Lodge, added later, increased accommodations to 40 rooms. It is the first LEED-certified hotel in Canada's National Capital Region.
A dozen Wakefield Mill Inn rooms face Gatineau Park. Two rooms, built in the original grain silos, have original stacked wood walls.
For luxury accommodations, guests can book the five river grand rooms with views of La Peche River. Eight other modern river rooms are also in the Eco River Lodge, located 92 meters (300 feet) from the Wakefield Mill hotel rooms.
Five rooms in the Quebec inn face MacLaren waterfalls. Two are silo rooms. The other guest rooms feature heritage building elements, such as exposed brick and original mill timber beams and flooring.
Le Moulin Inn also has six additional falls-view rooms, with upgrades. King size beds, gas fireplaces and two-person tubs make rooms 207 and 209 popular for romantic getaways.
Luxury destination spa
To create a luxury destination spa at Wakefield Mill Inn, workers spent eight months drilling a 90-foot tunnel to the base of the 28-foot-high MacLaren waterfall. There are now five treatment rooms within the spa's meter-thick original stone walls.
Therapists give guests massages, facials, body wraps, manicures and pedicure treatments. The Wakefield spa offers half-day and full-day spa packages for couples, men, women and spa parties.
Guests enjoy French and Quebecois dishes and seasonal menus at the Wakefield Mill Inn restaurant. The Sunday buffet brunch and the tasting menu, prepared by Chef Romain Riva, are especially popular.
Stone walls, a fireplace and a solarium, facing MacLaren Falls, add to the ambiance. Diners can accompany their meals with wines from the wine cellar, which is housed in the original mill turbine room.
Because Wakefield Mill Inn is in Gatineau Park, guests can hike and cycle in the summer, spring and fall, and snowshoe or cross-country ski on 250 kilometers of groomed trails in winter. They can also go downhill skiing at the Edelweiss and Vorlage ski resorts in Wakefield QC.
Moulin Wakefield Inn offers free use of snowshoes in winter and bikes, canoes and kayaks in summer.
Other spring, fall and summer activities in the Wakefield region include golfing, at Edelweiss and Mont Cascades in Cantley, Quebec, and horseback riding at Captiva Farms.
Adventure-lovers can even go bungee jumping from the highest bungee jump in North America. (Great Canadian Bungee is located five kilometers north of the intersection of Hwy. 5 and Hwy. 105.)
Things to do in Wakefield Quebec
Bob Milling recommends that Wakefield Mill Inn guests visit the long red Wakefield Covered Bridge, which was rebuilt in 1997. For evening entertainment, guests can enjoy music that ranges from folk to blues, at the bar in the Black Sheep Inn (Auberge Mouton Noir) in Wakefield.
He also recommends a visit to the Lester B. Pearson grave site, located at MacLaren Cemetery, on Chemin MacLaren, in Wakefield.
Romantic train rides
A popular train excursion for guests of the Quebec inn is the Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Steam Train. Excursions will not run in 2014. The steam train will run again after damages to the railroad tracks are repaired.
The HCW Steam Train is the oldest operating excursion steam train in Canada, according to André Groulx, general manager, and occasional conductor.
"The scenic train rides are a small family business, so we do everything," says Groulx. "The engine (number 909) was built in Sweden in 1907. The eight passenger coaches were built in the 1940s."
Five-hour scenic train rides bring up to 502 passengers from Gatineau (two minutes from Casino du Lac Leamy) to Wakefield. The steam train trip takes 1.5 hours each way, with a two-hour stop in the village of Wakefield, Quebec.
"In Wakefield, you can watch us pivot the 93-ton steam engine on the last operating manual turntable in Canada," says André Groulx. "Passengers can also overnight in Wakefield."
Scenic train rides run from May to the end of October. Fall foliage train rides to see the colored leaves in Gatineau Park are especially popular.
Wakefield Mill Inn packages
Besides HCW Steam Train packages, Le Moulin Inn & Spa offers other mid-week and weekend getaway packages. Seasonal packages are available for Christmas, New Year's Eve, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Gatineau Park.
Wakefield Mill Inn also has room and meal packages for girlfriends' getaways, honeymooners, spa-lovers, mature travelers (55-plus), singles and other getaways.
How to get to Wakefield Mill Inn
By car, driving directions from Toronto, Montreal or Ottawa: Take the Nicholas street exit from the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy. 417) to Gatineau. Cross the MacDonald Cartier Bridge, then follow Hwy. 5 for 20 minutes until it ends.
After turning left on to Hwy. 105 North and driving six km, turn right at the Wakefield turnoff (Chemin Valley). Turn left on Riverside Dr. (Chemin Riverside), at the bottom of the hill, and then left on Mill Rd. (Chemin Mill), where you will find the Wakefield Mill Inn on the right side at 60 Mill Road.
You can also cross-country ski through Gatineau Park, in three to four hours, along the Trans-Canada Trail, from Gatineau to the Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa.
More things to see & do in Outaouais Region: