Friday, June 8, 2018

The Gift Of A Prime Minister

Today I am beginning a new series, from a visit made in May when Tom and Janette were here for the Tulip Festival, so these next few posts will be from that day. 

Gatineau Park encompasses much of the Gatineau Hills, an uprising of land north of the city of Gatineau on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. Most of the park lies within the regional municipality of Les Collines-des-l'Outaouais, and takes up over 360 square kilometres of woodlands, lakes, and rolling hills. It is a federal park, having a unique status in that it is not technically part of the national parks system, but administered by the National Capital Commission. Its origins date back to the early twentieth century, formally established in 1938. Private property ownership was still allowed in the park under its mandate- one of the hurdles towards it becoming a formal national park- but Gatineau Park is a delightful escape for those in the national capital, an oasis of nature with some spectacular scenery in all seasons.

We headed into the park only to find a closed parkway, leaving places like Pink Lake and the scenic lookouts along that route inaccessible for this visit. I expect that the parkway opened up for the season just a few days later. Navigation on my part led us by a different route to another destination- the Mackenzie King Estate. 

William Lyon Mackenzie King is one of our finest prime ministers- I would say he and Lester Pearson are tied as the best. Have a look at his story here. A longstanding Liberal politician, he served as an MP under Laurier, spent time in private practice as a lawyer, and then returned to politics upon Laurier's death, taking the reins of the party and dominating federal politics from 1921-48, most of that time as Prime Minister. As a young man he began buying up land around Kingsmere Lake here in the Gatineau Hills, and started building a home- and then another- as a retreat away from politics. The lifelong bachelor left the entire estate to the country upon his death (along with his in-town residence, Laurier House), and this place was, for all intents and purposes, his true home. There are three distinct residences on the 231 hectares of land- two of them are open to the public, while the third, a 19th century farmhouse called The Farm, is now the official residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons. We started over from the parking lot to Kingswood, the first of the two residences the public can visit, beyond the above gate.

Quotes from King are placed in the form of signs along the paths here at the estate, in French and English. They tend to reflect his love of the land, this one for instance says, "such happiness as I felt in being beneath my own roof, amid the trees." 

Kingswood, a combination of the nearby lake's name and the name of Woodside, his childhood home in Kitchener, Ontario, consists of cottages and a carriage house. It was the first residence built here over time, more modest than what he would later build. Today Kingswood houses artifacts of the man, but we were a few days earlier than the official opening for the season, so the buildings themselves were closed. 

This view from a porch looks down the slope towards Kingsmere Lake.

We headed down the path. This outlying building is most likely a pump house, or a shed. It lies up from the shoreline.

This was the path heading back up. Those of you who follow Tom's blog might remember a similar view in a post he did back in May.

Steps led right down to the shoreline of the lake, a pretty spot in the midst of the hills. Fall colours around here are particularly stunning.

Close by the steps, fiddleheads were growing.

Here we have the other structure built here, a boathouse that incorporates changing facilities. King enjoyed spending time on the lake with guests, whether that meant swimming or boating. We'll pick up from here tomorrow.


  1. Thank you for this. I appreciated so much King's history and his accomplishments in and out of office. It's just nice to hear about a decent politician. The US has been taken over by a gang of criminals and I seriously think they're not that different from the Nazis. Of course, now Ontario must deal with Doug Ford. I knew our voters were by and large ignorant fools, but Ontario folks?

  2. ...a beautiful spot that reminded me of of my beloved Adirondacks. We thank you for including this on our tour. As Lowell says decent politicians are nice to look back on, particularly during these times when statesmanship is dead in the US. Our neighbors and allies to the north can serve as examples for us, now more than ever!

  3. Thanks for the walk and showing me such wonderful places!
    Tom, I envy you! LOL
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Seems to be a nice place to walk !

  5. Nice to walk with your through the park.

  6. not sure which visit it was that we kept hearing about Fiddleheads ... we are still wanting to try them. never got the chance. but we were sure curious ... had to google them. makes ya for sure wonder??! ( ;

  7. Hello, it is a beautiful park. The home is lovely too. Happy Friday, enjoy your day and weekend!

  8. Seems to be a wonderful park, I love that shot near the lake.

  9. I’ve never been to that area until now. Thank you for sharing William

  10. @Lowell: I woke up to the news. I don't believe that drug dealing thug is going to last four years, even with a majority government. He'll self destruct sooner or later, hopefully sooner, and probably take his party with him.

    @Tom: King was an extraordinary man, and quite a character. We need more of him.

    @Ella: thank you!

    @Francisco: thanks!

    @Gattina: it is indeed.

    @Marianne: thank you.

    @Beth: they are edible, but I'd say just leave them be.

    @Eileen: thanks!

    @Jan: and more of that lake to come.

    @Marie: it's a wonderful place to visit.

  11. Thank you for taking me along on your visit. I enjoyed learning something about the place. Have a great weekend, William! :-)

  12. Very interesting post and photos. The quote signs are unexpected, and in a way, lend the feeling of reading a letter from the person.

  13. It looks like a lovely spot close to the city, William!

  14. Lovely park ~ like the stone work ~ neat!

    Happy Weekend to you,
    ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor

  15. That home sits in such a perfect setting with all those wonderful trees and that lake. It must have been a great place to relax after stressful days.

  16. @DJan: you're welcome!

    @Maywyn: the quotes are a good touch for the property.

    @RedPat: it's a wonderful spot. Very special.

    @Carol: there would have been no shortage of those stones in the soil, so using them for fencelines was typical of what was done in this part of the continent.

    @Sharon: it's an idyllic place. He'd have enjoyed each day spent here.

  17. Mr King certainly picked a wonderful spot to settle William, he was a generous man!

  18. Such a restorative place and photos, William. I feel better already!

  19. What a lovely place! I like the quote installations!

  20. Great blog with a fitting quote--"such happiness as I felt in being beneath my own roof, amid the trees."
    Thank you

  21. I enjoyed reading your post. Love the use of stones, the quiet yellow paint, and the view of the lake and nature. Looks like a great place to visit.

  22. So good to read about decent politicians and leaders. It's a circus in our country! Your scenes so remind me of movies from my youth. Thanks for always included such interesting details, William. Have a great day!

  23. This is interesting and fascinating about the history. When you said estate I was expecting a megamansion! I love this ever so much more!

    Thanks for coming by my blog! So nice to see you there.

  24. @Grace: he was indeed.

    @Janey: yes, it is.

    @Cloudia: I can see it having that effect.

    @Jenn: it's a very good idea. I don't recall how long the quote installations have been up.

    @MB: it very much fits the location.

    @Betty: it feels quite like a home.

    @Jo: well, our province went circus-like last night, electing in a complete bloody idiot as premier.

    @Jeanie: even the main house doesn't feel like a mansion, which you'll see shortly. The size of the property certainly makes it an estate, and touches of the grounds too, but a lot of the acreage is woodland, as he'd wanted in the first place.

  25. Nice day for a hike under that canopy of trees.

  26. Such a beautiful place. The stairs look amazing.
    Also I'm sorry for being late with comments.

  27. Great spot. Fall colors would be amazing.

  28. Amazing and very beautiful.
    The third photo from the bottom of the lake is wonderful.

    cheers, parsnip

  29. What a beautiful setting! Too bad you were a bit early for full exploration. It looks well worth a return trip.

  30. I agree with Lowell. It's good to be reminded that there are, or were, decent politicians in the world, especially with that bunch we've got running our country.

    Maybe it's time for another revolution....

  31. Oh, fiddlesticks! Love those fiddle-heads. :-)

  32. I love those quotes! I had no idea! Very cool. What are they made of?

  33. What a beautiful park that is …

    All the best Jan

  34. @Eve: even with the blackflies!

    @Klara: that's okay, I know you tend to go through several posts at a given time.

    @Mari: I'll have to come up this way in the fall at some point.

    @Parsnip: thank you!

    @Kay: I shall have to return.

    @Norma: he was one of the best.

    @Revrunner: yes, it was just the time to photograph them.

    @Jennifer: I think steel.

    @Jan: it is quite a place.