Canadian Museum of CivilizationWhen you received the initial announcement about the 2013 CAGP National Conference, you can be forgiven for being a little mystified. Gatineau? Where on earth is that? (It certainly doesn’t help that, up until ten years ago, the City of Gatineau was called the City of Hull.)

Let me tell you a little bit about Gatineau. First of all, it’s in Québec (I’m sure you’ve already figured that out). It’s the fourth largest city in that province and was founded over 200 years ago. It’s very, very close to Ottawa. In fact, we can walk to Gatineau from the Good Works office in  Ottawa in about 25 minutes.

When I go to a conference, I’m usually focused on the sessions and agenda, but I also like to know where I can go to escape for an hour or two: maybe for a meal, or maybe for a drink with colleagues and new friends. It’s with that in mind that I provide you with “Leah’s super duper awesome guide to things to do when you need a break from the conference.” Ready? Let’s go!


Bring your walking shoes, because the Hilton Lac Leamy, though one of the most beautifully located hotels in the National Capital Region, isn’t really close to anything (except a casino, but I digress). If you want to walk to restaurants or bars, expect to be walking for 20 minutes minimum. However, the good news is that some of the best restaurants in Quebec are only a short cab ride away.


First, let’s broaden your horizons. Did you visit Tripadvisor to scan the reviews for local restaurants in Gatineau? Here’s a tip: check out restaurants in the entire Outaouais Region, not just Gatineau. Why? Well, the best and most picturesque restaurants are actually in the towns surrounding Gatineau (places like Chelsea and Wakefield).

Without further ado, here are my top five restaurant picks:

  • Les Fougeres: This is my favourite restaurant in the entire region. It showcases regional produce and features such mouth-watering dishes as Québec Moulard duck, Québec venison, foie gras, and crème brûlée. Bring your appetite and take your time. This restaurant, about a 10 minute cab ride north of the hotel in the town of Chelsea, is meant to be savoured. (We’re treating our Good Works clients to dinner there on the 16th).
  • Le Baccara: Feel like indulging yourself a little closer to ‘home’? Le Baccara is located on the 3rd floor of the casino (attached to the hotel) and is one of the best restaurants in the area. The cuisine is somewhat similar to Les Fougeres and is typical French (foie gras, duck, venison, and crème brulée).
  • Odile: I haven’t tried this restaurant, but it’s been receiving rave reviews. It’s only open for dinner (5:30pm to 9:30pm) and reservations are recommended.
  • Le Quai Saint-Raymond: Growing up in Ottawa, my friends and I were very well aware that the drinking age was 19 in Ontario (and the bars closed at 1am), but 18 in Quebec (where the bars closed at 3am). You can imagine where we spent many a Saturday night. One of the places we used to hang out was a bar called Les Raftsmen. I’m happy to say that it’s cleaned itself up and is now known as Le Quai Saint-Raymond. I haven’t been to it in its present incarnation, but it has good reviews and, best of all, is probably the closest restaurant (other than McDonald’s) to the Hilton. It looks like a great place for a meal and a drink.
  • Chelsea Pub: Looking for something a little more relaxed? The Chelsea Pub, in the stunning village of Chelsea, is just up the road. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the friendly atmosphere at this pub perched right on the edge of Gatineau Park. It’s well worth the 7 minute cab ride.

I’ve limited myself to those five: there are many more. (Tip: if you haven’t tried the Quebec delicacy known as poutine, one of the best places in the area to get it is Pataterie Hulloise at 311 Boulevard St-Joseph.) For those of you who are vegetarian or vegan, I’d be happy to recommend specific restaurants (I’m vegan myself).

Wakefield Covered BridgeThings to Do:

You *could* hop in a cab and head to Ottawa, but there are plenty of things to do on the Quebec side of the river.

  • Fancy a few hours at a spa? Get yourself over to Spa Nordik in Chelsea.
  • The Canadian Museum of Civilization isn’t too far away. Not only is it a spectacular collection, but the view from the museum has to be amongst the best in Canada: straight across the river to the cliff below Parliament Hill, and the Library of Parliament rising above it.
  • If you have a few hours, head about 20km north of Gatineau to the picturesque village of Wakefield, Quebec. It’s perched along the edge of the Gatineau River and, amongst other things, is home to the Black Sheep Inn, which is the best live music venue in the entire region (I see that Fiftymen are playing on Friday the 19th – I’ll drive!), great restaurants (I recommend Chez Eric, run by an old high school friend of mine) and the most stunning red covered bridge you will ever lay your eyes on.

I’ve given you just a sampling of the many restaurants and sites around Gatineau. Do you have other recommendations? Please let me know in the comments? Looking for specific ideas, or specific cuisine? The Good Works team would be more than happy to help. Again, just leave us a note in the comments below.

Looking forward to seeing you in Gatineau!

P.S. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that two Good Workers are speaking at the conference. I’ll be presenting on Wednesday, April 17th at 9:15am on the topic, “Your donors have spoken,” and Jose van Herpt will join long-time Good Works client Boyd McBride (of SOS Children’s Villages Canada) are speaking on Thursday, April 18th at 2pm on the topic, “Integrated Gift Planning the Wal-Mart Way: How to Use Multi-media to Promote Bequests Without Breaking the Budget.” Hope to see you in our sessions!

This post was written by Leah Eustace, ACFRE, former Principal and Chief Idea Goddess at Good Works. 

Banner image credit: Shawn Nystrand on Flickr, via Creative Commons