If you’re looking for one last short but sweet escape before the summer runs dry, there’s a place on the edge of the world that’s waiting to be discovered. Okay, it’s not that far, but this lovely town, sitting 60 kilometres west of Montreal, is a little oasis hugging the Ottawa River, and it’s certainly worth a day trip. Hudson, a small country village that dates back to the early 18th Century, is actually only a 40-minute drive from the city. Although the idea of stepping off the island into unchartered territory may leave you weary, it’s okay, take the leap — you’ll be glad you did.
With a population of just over 5000, Hudson is the kind of place where locals smile at strangers. Originally a settlement of French colonist-owned farm lots lining the waterfront, the first British settlers arrived to the area in the early 1800s. We promise you’ll be taken by the centuries-old French colonial and victorian homes that bring charm to its streets. You can get there by taking what locals call the “Lake Road,” a meandering scenic drive from Exit 35 off Highway 40. You’ll be transported by the cornfields to your left and the Lake of Two Mountains stretching out to your right, as you drift down the narrow road towards the centre of town. Expect it to be tree-lined and shared most often by cyclists, pedestrians, cars, and the occasional hitchhiker.
What makes Hudson so special are its local businesses run by people who truly pour their heart and soul into what they do. In fact, there are virtually no chain stores or restaurants to be found within the town’s city limits and the citizens pride themselves on the town’s no-neon sign policy. You’ll find family-run restaurants, quaint cafés, and beautiful shops, many of which selling handcrafted products made locally or sourced from the Montreal area. This past Spring, Hudson became Canada’s 21st Official Fair Trade Town, another feat that reflects the town’s strong community values. For a full list of cafés, restaurants & shops, check out this local website.
If you’re looking to recharge and disconnect, there’s also plenty of opportunity to seek refuge in the town’s many hiking trails. Sandy Beach, a local hangout for families, dogs and teenagers alike is also the entry point onto the Lake of Two Mountains by way of a dock accessible at Jack Layton Park.
And of course, no Saturday trip to Hudson can go without a visit to Finnegan’s. The legendary flea-market sits in a farmer’s field on the edge of town and has become a source of local pride. Here you’ll find plenty of antiques, second-hand finds, and artisanal pieces hiding in small barns, or along rows of tables set among the property’s beautiful willow trees. If you get hungry during your countryside adventure, there’s also no shortage of homemade food and treats throughout the market. Finnegan’s is open every Saturday from 9-4pm until the end of October which means you’re best to start planning your day trip to Hudson before its too late!
Photos by Melanie Guilbault