a peek inside the fishbowl

12 Jun, 2008

Family day trip to Wakefield

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy|Ottawa|Photography|travel talk

My piece about Wakefield came out in SavvyMom today.

Go read it! I’ll wait. ;)

I tell ya, if you are in need of a quick little day trip (tho’ really a half-day will do just fine) Wakefield is a sweet little place.

We’ve been doing this kind of day trip thing with the girls for years. As we poked around Wakefield I remembered Our Trick To Short Trips with Kids. It’s simple: the trip isn’t just about you. A family trip is just that – for the family – and everyone should get something out of it. Your idea of a good time might be poking around in antique stores and sipping hot lattes in a coffee-shop-slash-art-gallery-slash-bookstore, but if you want your kids to LOVE to travel with you, you’re going to need to indulge their wants and find some kind of balance that works.

I think it’s perfectly fair that you, a family, visit a few antique shops because This is What Mummy Likes, but you should be fair and weigh it with a visit to the candy store or bakery or the waterfront, because This is What the Kids Like. At the end of it everyone walks away happy. If you only indulge yourself the kids will be whiny, which will annoy you. And if you only do what the kids want you will be whiny (and just annoy yourself) and you won’t have a good time.

Anyway, we were pleased to discover that Wakefield has a little something for everyone. And it doesn’t need to cost anything – only the gas to get there.

Here are some pics from our trip.

You know how little kids like to play with wrapping paper and empty boxes? And that’s their idea of fun? Well, older kids just want to walk on the rails. Simple fun is where it’s at:

 Running the rails

If you do go, check out this sweet little shop. It’s chock full of household and gardening knick-knacks. Mark bought me a cast iron key. I think I’m going to hang it in the garden. It clearly has magical qualities.

Jamboree store in Wakefield

The Black Sheep Inn (probably the biggest reason why people head to Wakefield):

The famous Black Sheep Inn

And for the times you go sans enfants there’s also the lovely Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa:

Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa

Here’s a view of the hidden rest spot behind the mill, overlooking the water:

Hidden spot behind the Wakefield Inn

And finally, the famous covered bridge in Wakefield:

Covered bridge in Wakefield Quebec

On the Wakefield Bridge

I could have spent an hour under its cover:

Wakefield bridge

(And yes, the photo of that french sign was taken there too!)

I would love to find out about other places to day trip around Ottawa, not just for me, but for a future piece. Where do you go? And why do you love it? And what are YOUR creative tips for day tripping with kids? I’d love to hear them!

6 Responses to "Family day trip to Wakefield"

1 | BeachMama

June 12th, 2008 at 10:51 am


I love your photos of Wakefield and I read your article this morning. I used to go every summer and have dinner at the Cafe Pot au Feu (the old train station) but, I have to admit we haven’t gone in a while. Perhaps a day trip will be necessary.

2 | andrea

June 12th, 2008 at 10:54 am


That place looked good. I am willing to bet that the restaurant/cafe ratio is very high in Wakfield. There were a lot of neat places to get food. I’ve heard good things about Chez Eric too, but we didn’t time it right and didn’t go. Next time, for sure.

3 | Julie

June 12th, 2008 at 11:06 am


HEY! I’m moving to Wakefield this week-end! It was nice to read your article… it made me remember why the thought of living there was so nice. BTW – Chez Eric is a great place to dine with children because they have outdoor tables that back onto a huge (vegetable) garden, a stream and a sandbox for playing. The servers are great with kids too. Next time give it a try.

4 | Jennifer

June 12th, 2008 at 12:44 pm


Millionaire’s shortbread – I haven’t had any or seen any since I was last in Scotland – they have it there everywhere you stop (or rather I stopped). I’ve been in withdrawal since.

Another place I like to go is Perth. Again it’s about 45 min to an hour’s drive – the backroads are even prettier – all farms etc. Usually we go to the park and enjoy walking the circuit – on the grass, over the bridge, along the street, then back over the bridge and back around. I love poking into the shops along the main street and then having lunch at Mexicali Rosa’s – its right by the river. The kids like watching the hugh fish swim by and you can’t loose with the nachos.

5 | J.

June 18th, 2008 at 9:38 am


wow I just want to sit all day on those chairs looking down at the water. Ah. So peaceful. :)

6 | Hermosa Beach Day Spa

November 5th, 2008 at 2:27 pm


I love going on day trips: After a long week of work, there’s nothing better than doing something like this in order to literally “un-plug!” Although I have never ventured out to Wakefield, I can relate to similar types of towns that have snippets of antiquated decor that brings one back to their youth. The parts that you mentioned about this town that I liked the most include that Jamboree shop. I like going into a store that has a smorgasbord of items that in some ways, have absolutely nothing to do with each other. I know that if I were to ever go into a shop like that, I’m walking out with knick-knacks for the house and a little something to curb my appetite. I also thought that the Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa is somewhere I really want to go to. An inn with a rustic exterieor that would literally transform itself on the inside to a place where you can purchase services to really pamper oneself. Nothing like a nice massage and a sauna session followed by a home-cooked meal and a nice glass of Pinot Noir to set the evening just right. As far as other towns I would definitely visit near Ottawa, I’ve been to a town near the States border called Kemptville and although it’s not exactly like Wakefield, I tend to think that it has a novelty of it’s own. There’s a bunch of B & B-type Inns, restaurants, and a small strip of shops as well. Hopefully you can consider this on your next day trip.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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