September 4

This morning’s treat was a visit to Kingswood, the country home of Prime Minister Mackenzie King (whose childhood home was discussed in an earlier post).  But before that, Linda took me on a tour of the Gatineau National Park, a huge wonderful wild space quite close to Ottawa. The park itself has 63 lakes, and they’re all beautiful. Linda stopped at Pink Lake (I know, sounds odd; it was named for a family in the area) which has some amazing features. It looks pretty normal from the photo,


but read about it:

It was Sunday of the Labour Day weekend, so there was a lot of traffic. There also were lots of bicycles, in their silks and high-end bikes, dealing admirable with the hills.

Kingwood was near enough to Ottawa for Mackenzie King to visit there during the weekends, and he lived there in retirement. He started in his 20s, buying a little cabin on a lake, and gradually expanding it.P1020665

As he became a more important politician, he built a bigger house to accommodate his growing social group.

He also built a farmhouse and a garage with apartments for servants. Then he began assembling various ruins that were placed strategically about the grounds.

He continued working on the grounds, making paths, planting, working the farm.

Finally, in his will, he left the entire estate to the people of Canada. The estate is conveniently part of Gatineau Park, which he had worked to be named a national park. In fact, he spearheaded the whole national park movement in Canada.

After our tour of the ruins, we headed back to the main house, and the tea shop. It’s changed quite a bit since Linda’s last visit. The tea shop used to be a more casual affair, folks could just buy a cup of coffee. But now there’s a stand that just sell drinks in another part of the grounds, and this is now a fancy restaurant and tea parlor.  So that’s what we had. After much discussion with our waiter (who really appreciated my Oregon Eclipse t-shirt) Linda ordered Assam tea, and I had Earl Grey, and we shared a  three-tiered tray of tiny crustless sandwiches, scones with delicious clotted cream and raspberry jam, and delicate little layered cakes. As you can see from the photo, it was adorable.

It was also quite filling, and despite being a late lunch, we each saved a scone for later. There was a trio on the porch playing Baroque music, which added beautifully to the ambience. After a final look at the horses pulling folks around on a tour of the estate, off we went.


Linda lived in an area of Ottawa called Overbrook until college, and she gave me the grand tour. She showed me the house she’d lived in, where she’d wandered around as a child, shops and schools she knew. It was very working class, very French Canadian and very vibrant. We even stopped for a quick visit with a cousin of hers, Jeannine, who had been her babysitter when she was little. Jeannine and her partner were working on a play in a local theater group, and Linda was eager to buy tickets and attend.

Then off to the final adventure of the day, the Mosaicanada 150 Exhibit, a component of the year-long celebration going on all over the country. A woman at the dinner party the night of our arrival at the cabin had stopped by the next morning to give Linda directions to it. And we’re so glad she did. Look at the photos. Everything you see is a plant. Everything. They’re grown around supporting frames and accessorized as you see them.  It began raining towards the end of our tour, so we were fortunate to see most of them in dry weather. And the show was very much appreciated by the huge crowd that was there, all photographing everything, all exclaiming with delight and wonder. What a wonderful way for a city to celebrate.

The photo above gives you an idea of the size of the sculptures. I was told that an army of gardeners shows up every morning to remove dying or bolting plants, and replacing them with fresh specimens. It’s been open since May, and will be open until late in October, so it’s required an enormous amount of upkeep.

We had some horrendous downpours while driving back to the cabin, but it was quiet by the time we got home. We stopped once, at a Tim Hortons, for something to drink and to catch up on our email. Then, a careful drive home and early bed. We’ll be meeting Cousin Ray Drouin tomorrow and visiting some museums in Ottawa.


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