• Hunter Cresswell

Crowd packs Wakefield centre for nude calendar launch

Wakefield’s an odd place, so it’s fitting that returning to some semblance of normalcy in this corner of the Gatineau Hills involved getting together to look at nude portraits of locals.


The feeling of relief at being able to gather and blow off steam – and all for a good cause – was palpable during the Nudes of Wakefield & Beyond calendar launch event inside the Centre Wakefield-La Pêche on Nov. 5.


Shannon Ross brought the house down at the Nudes of Wakefield & Beyond Calendar launch party in the Centre Wakefield-La Pêche on Nov. 5. Hunter Cresswell photo
Shannon Ross brought the house down at the Nudes of Wakefield & Beyond Calendar launch party in the Centre Wakefield-La Pêche on Nov. 5. Hunter Cresswell photo

The 2022 calendar marks the twelfth year that photographer and graphic designer Franziska Heinze has compiled her artsy nude photos of Gatineau Hills residents into a calendar that raises money for a local non-profit or community organizations.


This was the biggest indoor public event in Wakefield since Rupert guitarist and songwriter John McAlpine tore the house down at the Blacksheep Inn on March 13, 2020 – days before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools and businesses across the Hills, Quebec, Canada, and the world. So it was only fitting that he opened the calendar show.


“We wanted to pick up where we left off,” event emcee Elizabeth Logue, who was at that final pre-pandemic Blacksheep show, said as McAlpine strolled onto the stage to the crowd’s cheers.


John McAlpine, of “City Girl” fame, started the evening on a high note during the Nudes of Wakefield & Beyond Calendar launch party in the Centre Wakefield-La Pêche on Nov. 5. Hunter Cresswell photo
John McAlpine, of “City Girl” fame, started the evening on a high note during the Nudes of Wakefield & Beyond Calendar launch party in the Centre Wakefield-La Pêche on Nov. 5. Hunter Cresswell photo

The audience clapped along to his song “My Doctor” as the Bougie Doozy Candles on the tables cast flickering light on their smiling faces.


The event sold out, admission was capped at 150 because of COVID-19 restrictions on capacity, before McAlpine even took the Gwen Shea Hall stage.


Next on stage was 15-year-old Wakefield resident Evelyn MacIver who was introduced to the calendar by her mother.


“She showed it to me and I was like, ‘Wow.’ My mom and aunt were on the cover, so that was traumatizing to say the least,” she told the crowd. She then played a song so freshly written that she hadn’t titled it yet.


Next up was Leia Ranger-Drouin who spun a spooky story that was told at Theatre Wakefield’s recent Haunted Hills Halloween event, “Elementary Ghoul.” The tale follows a group of teens and their truth-or-dare game gone awry at the old Wakefield Elementary School.


Each time Logue returned to the stage, she was in a different outfit. By The Low Down’s count, she changed eight times throughout the night and one outfit that showed off her original wedding dress.


Musician Claire Bestland’s bluesy guitar lick got the crowd clapping, which quickly turned into roars when she tore her mask off. Bestland was a tough act to follow but guitar duo Shannon Ross and Jack Pelletier didn’t disappoint.


Then, Rupert resident, ballet instructor, and Klimat routesetter Emily Rüdenberg stormed the stage with a dance routine. Pacing nervously in the hallway before her introduction, she said she hadn’t performed in front of this many people in years, but one couldn’t tell once she got under the spotlight and started moving to the music.


The local star-studded evening of entertainment was capped off with Wakefield’s own human jukebox Mathew Falvai, who got the crowd dancing with his covers and original songs.


“I’m exuberant,” Heinze said about the turnout at the event.


This year’s calendar proceeds will go to the local “Random Acts of Kindness” initiative which Logue and Heinze started. Like the Wakefield Community Emergency Fund, their new initiative helps out people in the community in urgent need.


The calendars are available in businesses throughout the Gatineau Hills for $20.