Wakefield, Quebec

In October, I will be relocating my business, Gatineau Nordique Sport, to the village of Wakefield. The business will be located at 3 Chemin Gendron, the road that leads to the famous Wakefield Covered Bridge. Taking into account the location and the layout of the floor space, this is an ideal situation for a stone grinding operation. I am extremely pleased with this new location and I am very much looking forward to working in this new setting.

Wakefield is a scenic and beautiful village on the Gatineau River, nestled in the hills of the Gatineau Park. When visiting the Wakefield region, there are a wide variety of outdoor activities from which you can choose. Summer activities include: road biking, cross biking, mountain biking, hiking, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, horse back riding, golf and bungee jumping. You can rent or buy bikes, canoes, SUP's, and kayaks at the newly renovated Expéditions Wakefield located in the heart of Wakefield on Chemin Riverside. Winter activities include: cross country skiing ( P-17) snow shoeing, downhill skiing, skating, hockey and walking. When visiting Wakefield you will find plenty of opportunity and a wide variety of places to dine. The Wakefield Tourism site lists 17 places that offer food and beverages. The village also offers 8 'Places to Stay'. All of these places, both dining and accomodation, lie in the heart of Wakefield located on the Gatineau River over looking or in close proximity to the river.

Last fall the Highway 5 extension that leads to Wakefield was opened. The people that designed the highway and those who did the construction of the highway did an excellent job. For years, the drive to Wakefield was not always enjoyable, particularly in bad weather.The drive now to Wakefield is a safe, enjoyable and scenic ride. It takes 10 minutes to drive from Scott Road in Old Chelsea to Wakefield, only a few minutes longer than it takes to get to P7 or P10. Once there, the classic skiing along Kennedy Road from P17 along trails 52, 53, 51 and 50 is excellent for classic skiing. Kennedy Road, trail 53, is one of best trails for cold weather classic skiing in the Park. The highway extension has been a boom to tourism in the Wakefield area and in the years to come it will continue to have a positive impact on Wakefield.

My family, the Johannsen's, has family ties in the Wakefield area that go back almost 200 years. My great grandmother, Eleanor Fairbairn, was born and raised on a farm on Fairbairn Road. In 1838, her grandfather, William Fairbairn, built the Wakefield stone grist mill on the Lapeche River, which nowdays is the very poplular Wakefield Mill Hotel & Spa. In 1861, William built a house for his family which was located on what is now the north west area of the intersection of highway 105 and the Wakefield by-pass. This house has been recently renovated and relocated as the Maison Fairbairn House, located on the east side of the river, 50 meters from the Wakefield Covered Bridge. My grandmother, Lyla Pritchard, was born and raised on Pritchard Road, in Lascelles. In 1836, her great grandfather, James Pritchard built the Pritchard homestead on the River Road in Alcove, a place that I have been to many times while attending the Pritchard Reunion. This big beautiful home which over looks the river is presently owned by the Thompson family and has been for many years. In 1829, at the age of 21 years, Mary Pritchard who had immigrated to Canada prior to her father James, paddled up the Gatineau River with her husband Joseph Irwin and their child James. After what must have been a very arduous trip, they settled and built a log house on land just south of the intersection of the Lapeche River and the Gatineau River on the west bank of the river. They are reputed to be the first white settlers in Wakefield.

My grandfather, Charlie Johannsen, had a very intesting but challenging life. When he was 2 years old his father was killed by felling a tree. There were 5 children in the family and the mother was not able to cope with this situation. She gave up all 5 children and returned to Denmark. My grandfather ended up in an orphanage, somewhere in the Ottawa area. At least 2 of his sisters ended up in Montana. I never heard the explanation as to how this came about. In 1914, when my grandfather got married to Lyla Pritchard, he built a house in Lascelles, in which my father, Thorold Johannsen, was born and raised for a period of time. This house in Lascelles is the first house on the right hand side of the road as you turn onto Pritchard Road. Although 100 years old, it is still a beautiful country home. For a period of time my grandfather built barns and houses in the Lascelles area. Afterwards, he moved his business to Ottawa, where he owned a successful business, 'C.A. Johannsen and Sons'. As a result of being in an orphanage and a foster home, for a period of time there was no communication between the 5 siblings. My grandfather, not knowing the correct spelling for his last name, chose to spell his last name as 'Johannsen'. Therefore, no, I am not related to Jack Rabbit Johannsen, who was Norwegian.

In 1939, my grandfather built a cottage on Mahon Lake having acquired the land from his good friend Jim Brown the year before. Over the next 15 years my grandfather and father built 2 more cottages, all adjacent to each other. Every summer myself and my family spend a lot of time at Mahon Lake. All my life I have been coming to the Wakefield/Alcove/Lascelles/Rupert area. I like it here. My family likes it here. Recently, I have rented a small place in Wakefield. My intention is to rent a house for 1 or 2 years until I figure out where to build my next house. Starting with my grandfather, for more than 100 years at least one Johannsen, including myself, has built houses.

In a few weeks, I will be making a variety of changes on my website, including new grind menus. One of the changes is a linear grind for classic skis called the 'CSM' grind (Canadian Ski Marathon) that will cost $40 for the grind and the waxing. In keeping with the friendly approach often exhibited in Wakefield, if you bring me classic skis to be ground with the 'CSM' grind, we will be able to offer you coffee, tea, or hot chocolate while you wait for your skis to be ground. Next winter, after the Christmas Holidays when there is good skiing at P-17 and P-19, I will have an open house.

After the Labour Day weekend, I will start up business for the upcoming winter. In September and early October I will grind skis at my present location.

On Monday, October 19, I will be open for business in Wakefield at 3 Chemin Gendron.

Looking forward to seeing you in the fall.


Created by Steffan Lloyd