So, no train for some time, if ever.
Despite many efforts, Wakefield businesses continue to suffer. I’m told those in Chelsea never benefited from the extra tourist business the train brought. It does not have to be so. Sightseeing buses, sometimes those iconic red double deckers, operate in many tourist cities. With Chelsea and Wakefield being two of the major tourist attractions close to Ottawa, surely this warrants such a service and it might even reduce the car traffic meandering through. There could be a number of departures throughout the day from Ottawa with plenty to see along the way.
A tea stop in Old Chelsea near the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre would give Chelsea businesses a boost and promote the park. A lunch stop and some shopping in Wakefield would bring back some lost business. Other interesting stops could be the Wakefield Mill, the cemetery, and the covered bridge. What about a return through Cantley and across the Alonzo Wright bridge for a final look at the Gatineau River?
There is potential for student employment – young people could work as guides or musicians. Buses could perhaps be leased and the infrastructure would be negligible. In the event that the railway does not get going again, could the engine not be relocated in Wakefield on the turn-around and be the centre of a railway museum? It would be yet another reason for visiting Wakefield.
Surely the business development officers of Chelsea and Wakefield could cooperate to promote something like this.
There must be an opportunity to find a creative solution that would serve both communities, would reflect our values and our heritage, and would support economic development without contentious infrastructure issues.