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  • Anna Robertson

Wakefield Wild Waders stage weekly frigid river dips

Many of us know the bracing and exhilarating feeling of jumping into cold water — perhaps on a late summer day. Maybe you plunge in with a little gasp or scream, have a quick swim, and then scramble out to warm up in the sunshine on the dock.

For the fearless and hardy Wakefield Wild Waders, this is not at all what is happening. There is no warm dock or blazing sun awaiting them in December after they emerge from the icy waters of the Gatineau River.

Since the beginning of October, up to 20 residents at a time have been gathering on Saturday mornings at the Wakefield General Store, before collectively taking a chilly plunge into the Gatineau River from the nearby beach.

And these chilly swims are more than just a quick dip. Some of the waders lasted up to two minutes — down from the 10 minutes they were spending submerged in the frigid waters in October, says Wakefield resident and wader, Kelly Rea.

And surprisingly, while there is a little laughing and screaming going on, most of the

Waders disrobe to their bathing suits and chat casually about their days as they submerge their bodies in the frigid water, explains Rea.