The Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa began its historic journey in 1838 as a flour mill, powered by the rushing waters of MacLaren Falls.
It was the vision of Scottish immigrant William Fairbairn, who constructed the stone mill with the purpose of milling local grains into flour for farm families of the Gatineau and La Pêche River valleys. The mill’s grains were shipped to Ottawa by train. This railway has now been converted to the historic Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield steam train, which brings 50,000 visitors to modern-day Wakefield and is the Wakefield Mill’s most popular summer package. After the sale of the mill to James MacLaren in the 1840's, the site was expanded to include a sawmill, woolen mill, and a general store.
The mill was ravaged by fire in 1910 and a flour mill was rebuilt, but the woolen mill stopped operating. The flour mill continued until 1939 when larger mechanized flour mills started impacting the smaller-scale local mills. It was converted into a grist mill to produce livestock feed for local farmers and operated until 1980 when it was turned into a heritage museum by the Gatineau Historical Society.
In 2000, a local husband and wife team, Robert Milling and Lynn Berthiaume, decided to breathe life back into the stone mill by restoring it into a country inn and destination spa. More than a hundred tonnes of iron milling equipment was removed from the building to accommodate the conversion. The renovation project was extensive, as the aim was to maintain the historic integrity and organic beauty of the original building and surrounding lands.
The pre-existing historic structure has been blended seamlessly into many aspects of the mill today, as a number of unique features of the original building have been preserved. The heavy wooden beams featured in the reception area were once used to support the grain silos and the leather belts used to connect the mill wheels have been fashioned into room numbers. Exposed stone walls provide a historic ambience in the guest rooms while other rooms are actually located in the former grain silos.
The dining room downstairs is the former “engine room” of the mill and underneath it used to be the location of mechanical and electrical turbines propelling the milling process. An original turbine room has been converted into the spa treatment rooms while the other turbine room now features the inn’s wine cellar. A number of historic mechanical components are featured as landscaping ornaments and are relocated throughout the Inn’s lovely gardens.
One element of the mill that remains the same after hundreds of years is the spectacular setting. MacLaren Falls, which initially inspired the construction of the mill centuries ago, still remains majestically beautiful and a social spot for thousands of visitors every year.
Contact us today to make a booking so you can enjoy the historic ambience and heritage of the Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa yourself.