by Stephen Johnson
Thanksgiving has always been a time for our family to relax and enjoy a meal together. In the past couple of years, it has also meant something else: Road trip!
This year, we wanted to check out the Chutes Coulogne (Coulogne Waterfall), or more specifically, the ziplines that go over the waterfall. If I may be even more specific, it was our son, David, who wanted to really do the ziplines.
After driving about an hour and a half east of Gatineau (Aylmer sector) we arrived at Chutes 98 Coulogne. We had a few tense moments as the staff checked to see if David was tall enough to do the ziplines over the canyon. Thankfully, he squeaked in by a few inches and we were on our way. (It probably helped that my wife, Sandy, was in the car as I signed the release forms for David.)
We visited with the friendly and knowledgeable staff members as David was outfitted. Once geared up, we headed with David to the canyon. Sandy and I caught our breath when we saw it, but David was confident. The guides helped him to the starting point and soon enough, he was ziplining across the canyon. Sandy and I had a bird’s eye view as we saw David zipping by us. In total, he did two ziplines, one at 100 metres and the other 260 metres above the whitewater rapids.
Once David returned, we extended high fives all around and set off to check out the waterfalls. There is a short walking trail with numerous interpretive panels providing a history of the area. The chutes were famous as a center for log drives and also for having a 3000-foot wooden log slide. When we arrived at the falls, I thought the log slide should go back into operation as a water slide. The falls themselves are spectacular. They are incredibly powerful, but I felt a sense of complete serenity being so close to nature.
Heading back from the falls, we ran into one of the zipline guides, Matthew. We chatted with him for about twenty minutes and he filled us in on the natural and social history of the area. It was nice to meet a local who shared so many interesting stories.
The second reason for our Thanksgiving road trip was to stay at the historic Spruceholme Inn in Fort Coulogne. The inn was first constructed in 1875 by George Bryson Jr., an important political and business figure in the area.
Over 140 years later, the inn has returned to its original glory. There’s a real sense of history, since you can find antiques in every room. There is also an adjoining restaurant, Bryson’s Bistro, occupying a beautifully restored open wood-beam hay barn.
Before settling down for the evening, we took a walk along the PPJ bike trail that passes through Fort Coulogne. David spotted two hawks resting in a tree and he got a couple of amazing photos of the hawks just hangin’ out on a Saturday afternoon.
After spending the night at Spruceholme, we returned to Ottawa with much to be thankful for.