Biking to Windsor Park to see Romeo and Juliet!

A Company of Fools production of Romeo and Juliet

A Company of Fools is once again touring parks across the capital region throughout the summer. This year they will be performing Romeo and Juliet! Here’s a description of the show from an interview with director Nicholas Leno.

 Someone requested a bike route from Hintonburg to Windsor Park where they will be tonight on Saturday, August 17th.

Here is a map showing the route with a description below.

 

Starting from the corner of Fairmount St and Wellington St West, head south along Fairmount as far as Sherwood Drive, passing under the Queensway along the way.

Fairmont St after passing under the Queensway

Turn left onto Sherwood Drive and continue along until it ends at Carling Avenue.

Heading down Sherwood St towards Carling

Cross Carling at the lights and ride through Queen Julliana Park to Prince of Wales Drive.

Bike path through Queen Juliana Park

Cross Prince of Wales Drive at the pedestrian lights just west of where the bike path ends and head into the Arboretum. Ignore the sign on the gate that says it’s closed. The sign has been there for ages and I have no idea why it’s there – the Arboretum is open to the public all year round.

Entering the Arboretum after crossing Prince of Wales from Queen Juliana Park

The paths through the Arboretum are a combination of paved and stone dust surfacing.

Biking through the Arboretum

You will eventually reach the Rideau Canal. Ride along until you reach the Hartwell Locks. Push your bike over the last set of locks. The Fools will be playing at this location on July the 10th.

The top set of locks which are wide enough to push your bike across.

Cross Colonel By Drive into the Carleton University campus, and cut through the campus as per the above map to the pedestrian crossing at Bronson Avenue. At one stage you will be dipping under the O-Train tracks.

Path under the O-Train tracks while cutting through the Carleton U campus

Once across Bronson, continue along the path through Brewer Park to Cameron Avenue. Cameron is a quiet one way heading easy but it has a bike lane heading west so it’s safe to ride along it on the way back.

Cameron Ave heading east with the dedicated bike lane heading west

Before reaching Bank Street turn right onto Wendover Avenue which merges into Warrington Drive that runs along the edge of the Rideau River. At the end of Warrington one can access the Rideau River Pathway that continues along the river.

Accessing the Rideau River Pathway off Warrington Drive

The path goes under Bank Street and continues on merrily along the river. Windsor Park is a short distance further along this path. There is no sign off the bike path identifying the park but you will have no problem noticing the stage.

Set for Romeo & Juliet

Enjoy the show !

For a complete list of the parks that The Company of Fools will be performing throughout the summer, including maps, click here. If anyone needs a bike route to get there, send me a starting point and the park you want to go to and I’ll figure out a route for you.

An Ottawa bike tour of buildings designed by John W.H. Watts Architect

Many Ottawa cyclists will have noticed this beautiful old house located at the western end of the Laurier Bike Path overlooking Nanny Goat Hill that has recently been put up for sale. Information on the house along with some interior shots can be found on this real estate posting. The posting claims the house was designed by architect John W.H. Watts , one of the most successful architects in Ottawa at the turn of the last century. Watts was born in Teignmouth, England in 1850 and died on August 26, 1917. He came to Canada in 1873.

The following 13km bike tour visits a number of buildings designed by Watts, starting with the grand old house at Laurier and Bronson.

Beautiful old house, corner of Laurier & Bronson.

 This map indicates our starting point as a green house icon. The purple line is our bike route. The one-block section of the route shown in orange is where I recommend walking your bike along the sidewalk for reasons explained below when we get there.

The next two houses are located along Wilbrod Street in Sandy Hill. To get there, bike east along the plowed Laurier Bike Lane as far as City Hall. Just beyond City Hall take the exit off Laurier towards the Queen Elizabeth Driveway.

Cross the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and ride along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway which is cleared in the winter. Head up and over the Corkstown pedestrian/bike bridge, then cut through the Ottawa University Campus to get to Wilbrod Street. 

Head east along Wilbrod, which is a one way street with a bike lane. The bike lane wasn’t entirely cleared of snow when I last rode this route, but it’s still a relatively quiet residential street. 

The first of Watts’ designs we come to along Wilbrod is Australia House. Built in 1910, it became the residence of the Australian High Commissioner in 1940 after its previous occupant, the Consul General of Germany, was expelled from the country after the declaration of war in 1939.

australia house - 407 wilbrod st
Australia House, 407 Wilbrod

Continue along Wilbrod to its eastern end where you will discover the magnificent Fleck- Paterson House. Completed in 1903, this house was built by lumber baron J.R. Booth  for his daughter Gertrude and her husband Andrew Fleck. It presently houses the Embassy of Algeria.

fleck paterson house 500 wilbrod st
Fleck Paterson House, 500 Wilbrod St

Our next stop is the former Adath Jeshurun Syngogue on King Edward Avenue in Lowertown. Completed in 1904 it was home to Ottawa’s first Jewish congregation.

To get there from The Fleck Paterson House ride one block north along Charlotte Street and turn onto Stewart Street. It’s a one way heading west- bike lane included! Cut north along Chapel Street which crosses Rideau Street into Lowertown. Circle along Beausoleil Drive to York Street and continue west for a couple of blocks to King Edward Avenue.

The section of the route along King Edward on the above map is drawn in orange. That’s to distinguish it as a short portion of the tour I recommend disembarking and walking your bike along the sidewalk for half a block to view the old synagogue. I do not recommend riding along King Edward Avenue as it is a brutal thoroughfare with speeding vehicules of all sizes including transport trucks heading to and from Gatineau across the MacDonald-Cartier Bridge.

Adath Jeshurun Synagogue

Continue walking your bike across Rideau Street, then along Rideau Street a short distance to Nelson Street. Mount your bike and head right back up into Sandy Hill along Nelson to rejoin Stewart Street. Cut through the Ottawa University campus and back across the Rideau Canal over the Corkstown bridge. Cross Queen Elizabeth Driveway into the Golden Triangle neighbourhood to MacLaren Street.

Head west along MacLaren to Metcalfe Street where you will discover the majestic house Watts designed for lumber baron John Rudolphus Booth. It was completed in 1909. More about this house can be found here.

Booth House, corner Metcalfe and MacLaren

Our final building on this tour is the Glebe-Saint James United Church on Lyon Street. To get there continue west along MacLaren to O’Connor Street. Hop onto the bike lane along O’Connor and head south under the Queensway into the Glebe neighbourhood. O’Connor suddenly loses its bike lane just south of the Queensway, however continue to follow it as far as First Avenue. Turn right onto First and ride all the way to Lyon where you will see the beautiful old Glebe-Saint James United Church.

Glebe-Saint James United Church

To complete the loop back to our starting point, continue west along First to Percy Street. Ride north along Percy where a bike lane starts just as you head back under the Queensway. Continue along the Percy bike lane to Flora, then turn right onto Flora for a block to Bay Street which has a bike lane heading north. Ride along Bay all the way to where it meets up with Laurier, two blocks east of the house at Laurier and Bronson.

Et voila!

I’d like to thank Hans for putting me onto the story of the big old house perched up on Nanny Goat Hill that is up for sale. Hopefully it will be preserved by future owners. I’d also like to thank David Jeanes of Heritage Ottawa who provided me with information on John W.H. Watts and the other fine buildings he designed within Ottawa.

If you are interested in checking out the interiors of some these buildings I suggest keeping an eye out for the annual Doors Open event when many exceptional local buildings are opened to the public.

Bike tour of Slack Bridges ‘In the Drought’ music video locations!

Slack Bridges is an Ottawa based neo-soul, funk, r&b band who will be performing at the NAC 4th Stage on December 7th! Last winter they put out a full length record called Joy of Joys. They also recorded a video from one of the tracks ‘In the Drought’ with their lead singer Matt Gilmour filmed in various wintry locations throughout the city while his bandmates waited for him in the warmth and comfort of Union613 on Somerset St, sipping on cider and playing board games. This bike tour visits those locations, but first – here’s the video:


 

We begin at the bottom of the Nanny Goat Hill stairs at Primrose Avenue. That’s where you’ll find Matt seated and singing 34 seconds into the video.

Primrose Stairs up Nanny Goat Hill

Next stop is a couple of blocks west where Matt can be seen hanging out in the Elm Street basketball court, first with his back to the net at 24 seconds, and then cross court at 1min40.

Elm Street basketball court

 

Our next stop doesn’t exist anymore! This is the pedestrian bridge over the Queensway at Harmer. It was torn down this summer and is the process of being replaced, which won’t be for another two years! Matt can first be seen strolling along this sorely missed walkway at 35 sec’s.

Harmer bridge construction site

There is a bike lane detour under the Queensway along Holland Avenue that requires cutting through the Fisher Park School parking lot.

Holland Avenue detour under the Queensway

Next Matt can be seen strolling along the National Capital Commission Scenic Driveway at 34 seconds into the video, which was pretty gutsy of him since there is no cleared shoulder and drivers tend to really gun it along this straightaway. There is a multi-use pathway adjacent to the Driveway that goes from Carling all the way to Prince of Wales Drive, but this important link is not cleared in the winter.

NCC Scenic Driveway

Fortunately Matt didn’t have to walk all the way to Prince of Wales as the next spot he was filmed is just off the Driveway aong the much quieter Ash Lane in the middle of the Experimental Farm. He is first seen there a mere 5 seconds into the vid.

Ash Lane

Next I headed through the farm, then down along the Rideau Canal before cutting through the Glebe, then Centretown along the O’Connor Street segregated bike lane that starts just south of the Queensway. Union613 is located on the north side of Somerset, just off O’Connor where Matt meets up with his band near the end of the song. The sidewalk sign seen in the video is missing in my photo as it was in the process of being replaced at the time. They also have hanging bike racks on the edge of the sidewalk, as seen in the photo.

Union613

Et voila!

Biking to the Great Canadian Theatre Company from points south-west along the Experimental Farm Pathway

The Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) , located in the wonderful Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre at the corner of Holland and Wellington, is  Ottawa’s largest professional, independent theatre. The second show of the 2018-19 season, The Drowning Girls, runs from October 23rd to November 11th, 2018. UPDATE: November 12th, 2018 – The Drowning Girls run has come and gone but there’s lots more theatre where that came from! If anyone needs a different bike route to the GCTC other than the one described below, send me a start cross street and I’ll figure one out.

The Drowning Girls – GCTC, Fall 2018

The blue line on the attached map indicates a bike route patrons can follow to get to the GCTC from the Central Park neighbourhood located south-west of the theatre. This route may also serve riders arriving from points further west along the Experimental Farm Pathway as far as Woodroffe Avenue, as indicated by the pink line.

From our starting point we head east along the Experimental Farm Pathway between trees and houses before crossing Merivale Road at the lights.

Heading East along Experimental Farm Pathway…. across Merivale Road

The path then continues downhill past corn fields on the right towards Fisher Avenue.

Experimental Farm Pathway heading East towards Fisher Avenue

The crossing at Fisher is a little convoluted as the lights are located a short distance south. Unofficial bi-directional bike lanes have recently been added along the west side of Fisher to get to the crossing.

Experimental Farm Pathway crossing at Fisher, seen from where path meets Fisher arriving from the west

Once across Fisher the Experimental Pathway heads north.

Experimental Farm Pathway heading north parallel to Fisher

The path then takes a sudden turn east. To continue north, exit the Experimental Farm Pathway immediately beyond the turn, onto a path of packed dirt that runs parallel to Fisher through a section of beautiful tall pines.

Exit off Experimental Farm Pathway onto path through the woods

Magical path through pines parallel to Fisher

This path eventually meets the paved pathway running along the National Capital Commission (NCC) Scenic Driveway. Continue north along this path.

Where path through the woods meets the path along the NCC Scenic Driveway

If it’s rainy the path through the woods can get a bit muddy. An alternative is to take the bike lane on the paved shoulder along Fisher to where it ends at Tunis Avenue. Turn right onto Tunis, then left along the NCC pathway.

Paved shoulder/bike lane along Fisher (alternative to the paththrough the woods if it’s muddy)

The NCC pathway crosses Fisher at some traffic lights, then ends a short distance further north at Carling Avenue. Cross Carling at the traffic lights, then again across Island Park Drive to get to the bike lane that runs north along Island Park Drive.

Crossing Carling and Island Park Driveway where the path along the NCC Scenic Driveway ends at Carling

Follow Island Park for a short distance before turning onto Huron, just before reaching the big NCC sign.

Exiting Island Park Driveway bike lane onto Huron

Continue north along Huron before turning right onto Kenilworth, both pleasant residential streets. Cross Holland Avenue at the  traffic lights and continue along the bike path under the Queensway.

Bike lane along Holland heading north under the Queensway

Cross Holland at the lights just north of the Queensway  into the grounds of Fisher Park Public School.

Crossing Holland into Fisher Park Public School

One may be tempted to continue down Holland, versus crossing through the school yard to Harmer Avenue North, but the Holland bike lane disappears further north of and it all turns into a hornets nest of non-allgned intersections with cars and trucks jostling their way on & off of Holland. In two years one will be able to avoid riding along Holland entirely once the city has finished replacing the pedestrian/cycling bridge over the Queensway linking Harmer Ave North and South.

Stay to the right of the school and follow the path that circles the playing field, then exit onto Harmer Avenue.

Path around Fisher Park School field

Once arrived at Harmer on the other side of the schoolyard, continue north, then cross Byron Avenue to get onto the multi-use path.

North along Harmer….. then east on the Byron bike lane

Ride along the Byron multi-use path 1 block over to Huron Avenue (another quiet residential street), then continue to the corner of Huron and Wellington where you will see the GCTC marquee one block to the east. There are a bunch of bike racks along the Wellington sidewalks between Huron and Holland. There are also a few racks along Wellington closer to the theatre.

View towards the GCTC from Huron & Wellington

 

Et voila!

 

 

 

 

 

University of Ottawa Bike Co-op: How to Get There From the Main Campus

The University of Ottawa Bike Co-op is a great big work space with stands, tools, and on-site expertise to help you fix your bike. It’s free for undergraduate students and a mere $5 annual membership for everyone else. Lots more info can be found on their website, including hours, by clicking here.

The tricky part is getting there, as it’s tucked around the back of the Lees Avenue Campus building.  Here are a couple of routes to get there, starting from the main campus on King Edward Ave. The first route (blue line) is more direct and accessible in the winter, while the second is slightly longer route (purple line) but is much more picturesque, taking advantage of  the Rideau River Western Pathway. It also avoids a couple of testy traffic spots encountered on the first route.

Both routes start off from the entrance to the main campus at the intersection of Marie-Curie and King Edward Ave.

START : Marie-Curie and King Edward Ave

OPTION 1 – THE MORE DIRECT ROUTE (blue line on the map)

I crossed King Edward and headed straight down Somerset St East. There are bike lanes along Somerset which dissapear intermittently for a couple of blocks, then re-appear at the bottom of the hill.

Somerset bike lane that come and go as you head down the hill for a couple of blocks

I turned right onto Chapel St, a quiet residential street.

Turning right off Somerset East onto ….. Chapel St.

At Wiggins Private I crossed onto the sidewalk on the left hand side which becomes a multi-use pathway after a few meters.

Up onto the sidewalk at after crossing Wiggins

I continued along the pathway as far as the signalised lights across Lees Ave. For some strange reason the bike lane along Lees starts a few meters beyond the crosswalk so I made sure I had time to cross and get to the bike path before the light changed.

Crosswalk lights to get across Lees

 

Lees Avenue curls over the Queensway before reaching the traffic lights heading onto the Lees Avenue campus.

Riding along the Lees Avenune bike lane over the Queensway

I rode into the campus, past the front entrance to the main building.

Crossing Lees into the Ottawa U Lees Avenue Campus

I then turned right onto the path between the building and the Gee-Gee’s football field.

Turn right before the football field, continuing around the building

I continued around to the back of building to where the path joins the Rideau River Western Pathway. There you will notice some spray painted signs in the window facing the path indicating you’ve arrived at the Co-op.

Handmade Co-op signs

I continued around the corner to where the entrance door is located. There are no signs identifying this entrance, but there is a track on the side of the stairs to help push your bike up the stairs.

Around the side of the building… to the entrance with the bike ramp.

Once through the exterior doors there is a sign pointing to the Co-op.

Entrance sign to the Co-op shop

And quite the Co-op shop it is.

Co-op shop

An alternative to riding around the building is to enter through the main doors of the Lees Avenue Campus building and push your big through the hallways to the Co-op shop.

OPTION 2 – THE PICTURESQUE (& SAFER) ROUTE (purple line on the map)

This second route starts at the same location as the first route and similarly heads down Somerset, however rather than turning onto Chapel, it continues along Somerset all the way to Strathcona park on the edge of the Rideau River.

Entrance to Strathcona park at the end of Somerset

I took the path leading straight into the park, then turned right along the Rideau River Western Pathway, rather than over the Adawe Bridge (the one with the silver sphere sculptures).

Turning right along the Rideau River Western Pathway

It’s a very pleasant ride along the Rideau River Western Pathway.

Rideau River Western Pathway berween Strathcona Park and the Bike Co-op

The path goes under the Queensway and up beside the Gee-Gee football field to the Co-op with the signs in the window anouncing you’ve arrived.

Arrival at the co-op

Et voila! If anyone needs a different route to get to the co-op please send me a starting point and I’ll figure one out for you!

 

 

 

The Osgoode Ride

Last summer the City of Ottawa posted a series of self-guided bike tours  with the goal of encouraging cyclists to explore the countryside within Ottawa’s limits and surrounding areas. I’ve been meaning to visit a few sites in and around Osgoode so I decided to try out The Osgoode Ride. The city rates this 59km route as ‘experienced’. I’ve gone on many rides of varying difficulty within Canada and abroad so I figured I qualified. On Saturday morning I gave it a shot. Here’s how it went.

I  set out from the parking lot off Mitch Owens Road on the edge of the converted rail-to-trail Osgoode Link Pathway. This parking lot is conveniently located right beside The Wood Source where they have a great selection of types of wood not available in most lumber yards.

Parking off Mitch Owens Road along the Osgoode Link Pathway

I rode south along the Osgoode Link Pathway and turned left onto Gough Road to get onto the city’s recommended route.

The majority of this route runs along two lane straight-aways in various states of repair, from crumbling asphalt to fresher pavement. Most of the shoulders are a mix of loose and packed gravel.

Varied road conditions

I’m guessing the linear directness of these roads are what encouraged most drivers I encountered to push the pedal to the metal, regardless of the condition of the roadway. Tragically, last September alone there were two fatal collisions along this route, one at the intersection of Pathway Road and 8th Line Road, the other along Dalmeny Road.

If there wasn’t any traffic coming in the opposite direction most drivers generously moved way over to the opposite lane to pass. There were a few instances that required bailing out onto the gravel shoulder in hopes of survival. For example when this oncoming driver chose to move into my lane to pass another car.

Oncoming passing car

There are only a few small hills on this route. When they did appear, drivers were loathe to move over when passing me lest an unseen vehicule be cresting the hill in the opposite direction. The proper thing to do is wait until you are over the hill and sight lines are clear to safely pass, but this was not a popular option for some, like this guy who could be heard accelerating from a long ways off, making it quite clear he had no intention of slowing down as he flew over the hill.

Vroom Vroom heading over the hill

Another common circumstance that often necessitates taking to the shoulder is when a vehicule insists on passing even though the timing coincides with another car approaching in the opposing lane, leaving minimal or no room beween the passing car and the edge of the road. This was paticularly common along Victoria Street where traffic was busiest. Having a mirror is essential in these circumstances to be able to guage how close the encounter was lining up to be, and to assess the size of the vehicule coming up from behind, particularly in communities that often rely on wider than average vehicles as their mode of transpo.

Wide Load

The need to always be prepared to ride onto an unpredictable gravel shoulder in a moments decision means I don’t  consider this route to be safe for cycling. To do so there would need to be paved shoulders to provide riders with a safe means of escape in such dangerous situations. There are a few instances along this route where there are paved shoulders, such as when entering Metcalfe, and a short section where Dalmeny Road road turns onto Gordon Murdoch Road.

Paved shoulder approaching Metcalfe

Paved shoulder where Dalmeny Road road turns onto Gordon Murdoch Road

Optimally every road should have a paved shoulder or, at a minimum, along bike routes recommended by the city, similar to those along Albion Road and other roads frequented by cyclists near the airport.

The intitiative to encourage cycling through the countryside is admirable. It provides a boost to local economies, like at the vegetable stand I visited along the route and at the Metcalfe Farmers’ Market . It also allows for wonderful healthy outings for residents and tourists alike. But without proper infrastructure, routes such as this will remain accessible to only the most foolhardy of cyclists. Build safe bike infrastructure and they will come. Don’t and they won’t. I only saw 4 other cyclists on the roadway portions of this route whereas along the Osgoode Link Pathway I encountered over 15.

I leave you with a few fine discoveries made along the route.

Very curious cows

Metcalfe Farmers’ Market

Impressive farm

Heritage buildings in Osgoode

Heading north along the Osgoode Link Pathway…ahhhh….

Et voila!

Biking to Strathcona Park, where there’s a whole lotta theatre going on!

Strathcona Park is a picturesque tract of greenery that runs along the west bank of the Rideau River at the eastern edge of the Sandy Hill neighbourhood.  One can meander along a network of paths, past big old trees and features like the Strathcona Fountain sculpted by Mathurin Moreau , donated by Lord Strathcona in 1909, or the unique play ground structure designed by artist Stephen Brathwaite that incorporates carved blocks of stone recovered from prominent Ottawa heritage buildings.

Strathcona Park is also the staging ground for professional theatre throughout the summer! Odyssey Theatre has been performing Italian commedia inspired productions there since 1985. This is the opening weekend of their production Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia.

Odyssey Theatre – Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia
Clockwise from top left – Catriona Leger, David Warburton, Natalia Gracious & David DaCosta

A Company of Fools, Ottawa’s longest running professional Shakespeare company, performs their travelling show in the park every Monday evening throughout the summer. This year it’s the Bard’s comedy Twelfth Night you can catch them there, and in various other parks around the region for the rest of the week right up to August 18th.

Fools Twelfth Night
A Company of Fools – Twelfth Night
Left to right – Garrett Quirk, Kate Smith, Kate McArthur

UPDATE- September 2018: Another fine season of theatre has come and gone, but fear not! Next summer promises to once again be the staging grounds of more wonderful productions by Odyssey Theatre and A Company of Fools

With the 2015 opening of the Adawe Bridge over the Rideau River, Strathcona Park became much more accessible to cyclists from points east. This route explores how to get there from the west, starting in Centretown.  The purple line is an alternative deviation on the return trip to avoid having to ride amongst traffic on Laurier, as the west bound segregated bike lane only starts at Elgin. If anyone needs a different bike route to get to Strathcona Park let me know & I’ll figure it out.

We begin our journey at the western end of the Laurier bike lane at the intersection of Laurier & Bronson.

Start of Laurier Bike Lane heading east from Bronson

Head all the way east along the Laurier Bike Lane to where the path passes infront of City Hall after crossing Elgin Street. Just before Laurier heads over the canal, turn onto the sidewalk along the exit to Queen Elizabeth Driveway. Just a few feet along the sidewalk it becomes bi-directional shared pathway.

Exit off Laurier Bike Lane before going over the bridge.

3 - sidewalk to MUP
Sidewalk along exit lane becomes multi-use path

Cross Queen Elizabeth Driveway at the 4 way stop and head south along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway.

Crossing the Queen Elizabeth Driveway to the Rideau Canal Western Pathway

Riding along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway

Not too far along you will see the Corktown pedestrian/bike bridge to your left heading over the canal. Cross it.

Exit off the Rideau Canal Pathway onto the Corktown Bridge – follow that guy.

View up the canal for Corktown Bridge

Continue down to the signalised crossing at Colonel By Drive and ride under the transitway and up along the winding path to the Ottawa U campus.

Crossing Colonel By Drive heading under the transitway (they were putting down nice new pavers)

Ride straight ahead along Marie Curie Private and across King Edward Avenue at the lights. Head straight on down the hill along Somerset St East. Bike lanes appear a couple of blocks past King Edward that lead all the way to Strathcona Park.

Bike lanes along Somerset St East

Entrance to Strathcona Park at Somerset St East.

Path through Strathcona Park

Odyssey Theatre’s performances are at the northern end of the park, while The Fools set up a little closer to Somerset, as indicated on the above map. I’ve also spotted the location of the Strathcona fountain and the Brathwaite play structure on the map.

Play structure

Strathcona Fountain

View down the Rideau River from the path along the river’s edge

Et voila!