Chelsea is a popular year-round destination in Quebec for outdoor enthusiasts, but in winter seems particularly enchanting. To explore its charms, start the day by checking in with the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre at 33 Scott Rd. Head out for a ski, snowshoe or hiking experience. Trail passes are sold at the Visitors Centre, or can be borrowed through Ottawa at Outaouais region public libraries.
BISCOTTI & CIE
This gem of a café is a majestic find! Charming hand-written notes surround the front door of Biscotti & Cie and welcome guests to taste assorted hot beverages, decadent desserts and freshly-made lunch items. Out back, find an authentic Yurt with more inspiring notes dangling from the ceiling. Comfy cushions and chairs surround a wood burning stove to invite conversation or mediation. Book a yoga class or a night out with friends in this space that attracts the likes of the PM’s wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, who occasionally brings her husband too! Visit at 6 Chemin Scott, Chelsea.
The National Capital Commission (NCC) encourages new Canadians to get into the woods with a free program that helps teach newcomers how to embrace winter in Canada. The new initiative includes a guided tour in Gatineau Park with snowshoe rentals and an end-of-tour hot chocolate. Invitations are sent out through a variety of English and French second-language programs. Approximately 1,000 new Canadians will take part this season.
The Chelsea Pub, built in 1875 when Chelsea had only 819 taxable residents, is one of the oldest houses in town. Today, the building retains its heritage with the addition of modern amenities. Chef James Spinnewyn comes from northern France and creates an up market pub-style menu. Taste it at 238 Old Chelsea Rd.
A SWEET SPOT
Le Vignoble de Chelsea offers a variety of ways to celebrate the flavours of winter in Quebec. A weekend dinner show runs Friday and Saturday nights. An authentic sugar shack opens for eight weekends throughout March and April, and brings the sweet taste of their produced-on-site maple syrup. Visit them at 1582 Route 105 or www.vignoblechelsea.com
Bruce Langer met a “wax genius” at Grossman’s Tavern in Toronto’s Kensington Market back in the ‘70s when it was a popular “hippy hangout.” Bruce learned everything he needed to know from the candle maker, and took the knowledge to develop a business that has weaved its way in and out of Toronto and Ottawa locations. It now embraces a prominent spot on Old Chelsea Road under the name of Bougie Doozy Candle. With a unique method of creating eye-catching, food-grade paraffin candles, Bruce and his business partner Greg Brayford are enjoying the success of being a popular tourist destination as well as serving a worldwide, online clientele. Pick up a celebratory Canada 150 candle this spring at 181 Old Chelsea Road.