This past Victoria Day weekend my 2 year old son and I decided to join some out-of-town friends and go on the Hull – Chelsea – Wakefield Steam Train excursion. The train is one of Canada’s last remaining authentic steam-powered engines and travels through the Gatineau Hills covering 64 km of beautiful scenic views along the Gatineau river.
From start to end our journey was a pleasant experience beginning with the friendly staff directing us into the parking lot in an orderly fashion. Picking up our tickets and finding our assigned seats was a breeze thanks to the ticket agent’s detailed directions. Each train car had a tour guide that pointed out landmarks and interesting facts during the ride. All the guides were kid friendly and always smiling.
The whole experience basically takes up the entire day. They advise that you arrive 45 minutes before the train departs, which is at 10:00 am sharp. This gives you lots of time to pick up your tickets, take pictures of the train and find your seats. The ride to the village of Wakefield and back takes 90 minutes each way including a 2 hour stopover.
The ride to our destination passed by quickly with the guide handing out colouring books/crayons and musicians making their way through the train playing classic Quebec folk songs with a few recent hits mixed in. My son bounced happily in his seat to the music while waving out the window to bystanders watching the train make its way through the Gatineau Hills. We walked through the train to the souvenir car to buy a toy locomotive, which he played with for the remainder of the trip.
The stopover in Wakefield began with the tradition of the musicians pushing the Steam Engine around 180 degrees on the turntable. (View our video on YouTube) Afterwards, you were allowed to walk through the actual steam engine while the engineer went about his business of preparing for the trip home. My son was thrilled at the chance to see the inside the steam engine!
There was a small park with picnic tables and benches next to the train station where we had our lunch. You can opt to buy a box lunch or bring your own. There are all kinds of restaurants and take out stands to grab a bite if picnics are not your thing. After our lunch and some running around the park we made our way to the Wakefield Bakery and bought some yummy cookies and bread for the ride home. We then sat and enjoyed some ice cream while we waited for the train to blast it’s horn to let us know it was time to make our way back for our journey home.
The ride home was a little quieter since my son was tuckered out from all our walking (re: running) around the village. There is room in each train car to store your stroller if needed. If I had known that, I would have brought our umbrella stroller to make getting around the village a little easier. The musicians made another appearance and a girl making balloon animals and face painting paid us a visit. I had packed a book that my son had never read before to keep him happy for the final leg of our trip home. It seemed to work… but I think the cookies I bought in Wakefield might have been the real winner!
The pricing changes from season to season and is very specific. They have special prices for seniors, students, children and a family rate. Kids 2 years of age and under are free and they get their own seat.
For more information visit their Web site.
Krista is mom to three boys: 2 year old Ewan and 9 month old twins Angus and Lachlan. You can follow her on Twitter @kristahouse.