Chemins d’eau: A road trip among hills and rivers
Do you hear the call of the roads of Quebec? Take a road trip along the Chemins d’eau (“waterways”), the Outaouais’ first official tourist route, and discover the region’s DNA! With more than 270 km to cover and 90 attractions to visit, there’s no shortage of interesting things along the way. So hop in the car, fire up your favourite playlist and set off on an adventure!
The hidden treasures of the Collines-de-l’Outaouais
Start your road trip in Chelsea, a beautiful village with a rich heritage and an active cultural life. You must absolutely stop at La FAB Arts Centre, one of the region’s hidden treasures, located in a former church rectory. There you will find not only an art gallery and artists’ studios open to visitors, but also a small boutique showcasing the creations of Outaouais artists. Next, head to the Mackenzie King Estate. This property of more than 230 hectares once belonged to William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s 10th prime minister. Today, the site is known for its historic ruins and beautiful gardens.
Now it’s time to enjoy a good meal packed with local flavours! Visit Les Fougères, named one of Canada’s 100 best restaurants in 2020. Its chef, Yannick LaSalle, won the gold medal at the 2019 Canadian Culinary Championships.
Finish your day at the Wakefield Mill Hotel & Spa. Built in 1838, this converted flour mill offers unique accommodations! Not only are the rooms super comfortable, but the spa offers a full range of services, from outdoor massage to a swimming pool and hot tubs overlooking the waterfall that once drove the millwheel.
Little Red Wagon Winery
The Pontiac, where discovery awaits
Now that you’re well rested and well fed, it’s time to hit the road for the Pontiac. Take Route 148 and admire the changing scenery. Stop at Luskville Falls to admire the waterfall, which is at its most impressive in the spring, and walk the 300-metre trail leading to scenic lookouts and a fire tower. The view from the top of the Eardley Escarpment is spectacular!
From east to west, the villages of the Pontiac have joined forces to create a “Village Tales” heritage route that tells the stories of the past. Historians (including one from the Kitigan Zibi community) and a geologist participated in the research to help you discover sometimes surprising and little-known historical facts.
That’s enough walking for one day—time for some wine tasting! 😉 Visit the Little Red Wagon Winery to explore their magnificent property and sample their wines made from a variety of northern grapes grown on site. You can even make a reservation to eat there.
Bryson’s Bistro du bûcheron
Extend your visit
After a relaxing visit to the vineyard, you’ve decided to spend the night in the Pontiac? The Spruceholme Inn will welcome you! This stately 19th-century heritage house is one of the area’s most important historic landmarks. Enjoy a meal at Bryson’s Bistro du bûcheron, where the menu varies according to the chef’s inspiration.
The next day, start your day with a stroll down the main street of Fort-Coulonge. Keep your camera handy, because this street—nicknamed allée des manoirs, or “mansion row”—is unlike any other. Admire the many stone houses built in the 1870s for the children of industrial baron George Bryson. In fact, a visit to his sumptuous residence, designated as a historic site, is a must!
Round out your stay with a memorable hike! The Oiseau Rock Trail, a 10-km round trip, will amaze you with its natural lookouts over the Ottawa River and interpretive panels on the history and culture of the Algonquin people. At the summit of Oiseau Rock you’ll find one of the most important rock art sites in North America. In short, this advanced, unmarked trail is a challenge, but well worth the trip!