The walk follows a rocky, undulating trail that is not accessible to wheelchairs or strollers.
Thomas 'Carbide' Willson Ruins
We are very sorry to have to cancel this walk, but the conditions on the trail are extremely wet and slippery because of the extensive rainfall we've been receiving. Katharine has agreed to do a Gatineau Park walk next year.
This is Katharine’s favourite trail in Gatineau Park because not only are the woodlands and lakes stunningly beautiful, but there is tangible, visible human history to discover. In addition, we may find ephemeral spring flowers starting to blossom, where we can search for such species as Dutchman’s Breeches, Wake-robins (red trilliums), Bloodroot, and other delicate blossoms.
During this lively walking tour, author and historian Katharine Fletcher will talk about early settlers who had farms here as well as point out some fascinating natural history observations. She welcomes participants to join in the discussions.
Katharine will proceed at a slow pace, giving ample time for examining plants and bird-watching, and she encourages discussion from the group about natural and human history of Gatineau Park.
(Note: The start time for this walk has been revised.)
We meet at O'Brien Beach Parking Lot (P-11), at the south-east tip of Meech Lake, on chemin du Lac Meech (Meech Lake Road) in Gatineau Park, northwest of the village of Old Chelsea. Take Autoroute 5 north from Ottawa, to Old Chelsea Rd exit, turn left (west) on Old Chelsea Rd. through the village and continue on chemin du Lac Meech to Parking Lot 11.
From the parking lot, we'll take the gravel access road past O'Brien House (not open to the public), connect with the TransCanada Trail (formerly the Discovery Trail) #36, cross over the bridge that separates Meech Lake from Little Meech Lake, and then hike further along Trail #36 to the turnoff to the ruins of Thomas Carbide Willson's dam and fertilizer plant. The site is about half a kilometer from the turnoff.
This hike will proceed, rain or shine. This walk follows undulating, rocky, sometimes tricky (one short descent is both steep and rocky) trails, mostly inside the protection of a mature forest. The terrain unsuitable for wheelchairs, walkers, or anyone who is not in reasonably good fitness. Wear appropriate, comfy footwear for uneven footing/terrain, sunhat, and bring both camera and binoculars – plus water and a snack. Don’t forget insect repellent: black flies could be out.
Round-trip distance is about 2-1/2 kilometers. Katharine's book Historical Walks: The Gatineau Park Story includes a detailed description of this walk, including a map, on pages 99–100.
Katharine is a freelance writer, editor and visual artist. She writes eco-adventure travel, gardening, environmental and cultural features, columns and blogs for a variety of publications and websites, and is a keen outdoorswoman. She and Eric love exploring their local region, Canada, and the world, and writing about their adventures. She and Eric built their own canoe, carved their own paddles, and enjoy paddling, hiking, snowshoeing, wildlife-watching, and horseback riding. She invites you to visit her at katharinefletcher.com.
Katharine Fletcher is an author of several guides to Ottawa, the National Capital Region, and Gatineau Park (Historical Walks: The Gatineau Park Story; Promenades historiques dans le parc de la Gatineau ; Capital Walks: Walking Tours of Ottawa; Capital Rambles: Exploring the National Capital Region); and co-authored Quebec Off the Beaten Pathwith her husband Eric Fletcher. The couple live in the Pontiac region of the Outaouais (West Quebec) at Spiritwood, their organic farm adjacent to Gatineau Park.
For those who are interested, Katharine will bring a few copies of her book Historical Walks: The Gatineau Park Story to sell.
Note that Katharine Fletcher will also be leading a walk at the Central Experimental Farm. Details.