Whimsical Wakefield By Susan Campbell Special to Urban Expressions
September 21, 2011
I am thrilled to be aboard the H.C.W steam train enroute to Wakefield from the old region of Hull in the city of Gatineau. My travelling companion and I are seated in our very own first-class fancy compartment car about to dig into a continental breakfast served with real china on crisp white linens.
It’s like a scene from Orient Express. My grandmother Viola Fairbairn used to tell me about riding the steam train up to visit the family farm where she grew up. I am sure she’d be happy that I got to experience the billowing smoke, the haunting whistle, the rollicking motion – it was delightful.
Soon we arrive to enthusiastic welcoming waves coming from the townspeople, but before heading off to explore, everyone stops to watch the engineers turn the massive engine around by hand via an ingenious giant turnstile. (Note: Unfortunately, at press time the steam train was no longer operating this year due to track damage caused by heavy rains, but will resume operations in spring 2012.)
An eco-friendly, bohemian vibe Though I had spent many summers as a child up in Wakefield at my great aunt Reta Fairbairn’s cottage across the river from town, I had not been back for over 20 years and was anxious to see how it had changed. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I recognized.