This morning I discovered Lakeside Gardens, a very pretty park that juts out into Britannia Bay.
Sunday mornings are fantastic for long rides because there are hardly any cars on the road. Yesterday I managed to ride along the 307 on the East side of the Gatineau River, before turning onto Chemin de Mont Cascades towards Wakefield.
Beyond Mont Cascades the road was narrow, winding and picturesque like this.
Chemin de Mont Cascades becomes Chemin Clark, which meets up with the bigger 366, or Chemin Edelweiss, but I didn’t have to follow it for very long before I turned down Chemin du Vieux Pont, named after the covered bridge across the Gatineau River. Originally built in 1915, it has a long and illustrious history, including it’s complete reconstruction in 1998 by the local community after burning down 1984. Here’s what it looks like on the bridge.
And here’s what it looks like from Wakefield.
Well, we loaded up the Element and headed off towards the Pine Grove Forestry Trail in the Greenbelt.
I’ve hi-lited the paths we biked and hiked with a white glow on this map.
The stretch between P18 (where we parked) and the start to the Pine Grove Forestry Trail has the highest concentration of interpretive panels I’ve ever seen along a nature trail. One every 20 yards maybe? Here’s one. The hungry mosquitoes kept me from reading them all, however I caught enough to remark how thorough the information was, providing extensive detail on the surrounding forest, so bravo.
Pine Grove Forestry Trail was a short intimate hike punctuated with smaller interpretive panels along it’s way, as previously mentioned in this post.
Apart from the little stretch running along Davidson Road which was very narrow and grown over, but you can avoid by biking on the road. The rest of the route was wide and just a little bit bumpy. Like this.
A fine family outing.
An old friend said I might find more of Kiyomi Shoyama’s interpretive panel illustrations along Hickory Trail in Gatineau Park. After consulting the Gatineau Park Summer Trail Map I plotted out my route to the trailhead near the Southern end of the park.
Here are a couple of the eight interpretive panels I discovered along the trail.
Not sure if they are Kiyomi’s illustrations, but the panels are filled with great info on the many tree species found along the trail loop.
Another interesting hi-lite along the trail is this tree trunk tunnelled through at the base.
It also seemed like a nice place for an early morning smooch, at least according to the couple I surprised on the pic-nic table in the clearing at the end of the trail. Shhhhh…… tee-hee-hee. No, I didn’t take a photo. I don’t know if they arrived in separate cars either, because I discovered another path at the opposite end from the trailhead parking lot. I hadn’t noticed this path on any map so I assumed it wasn’t official, until I happened upon this numbered snowshoe trail marker.
When I got home I looked up the Gatineau Park Winter Trail Map. Lo and behold, there it was – snowshoe trail 66. So what about all the other snow shoe trails that don’t correspond to any of the summer trails? Hmmm… more to explore. I’m hi-liting this section of my route in satellite mode to point out how this trail follows hydro lines most of the way.
Power line towers are impressive. They embody the modernist mantra Form Follows Function in large scale. Along todays route I happened upon no fewer than five variations of these monsters. Here they are.
Work required that I find my way near the corner of Baseline Road and Clyde Avenue, a heavy traffic zone not easily accessible by bike, especially as one gets closer to the destination. ‘What’s the safest way to go?’ say’s I. Well, this is why I love the bike option in Google Maps. It helps you plot out the safest way to get to your destination.
But before I go too far, I want to mention a couple of side routes around another tricky spot en route, someone other than Mr Google put me onto many years ago. Prince of Wales Drive just beyond Dow’s Lake towards the Experimental Farm is scary because of the crazy speeds motorists reach zipping up and down this curved hill. Below are two suggested ways to avoid this section.
The route on the right, or east side of Prince of Wales, follows a gravel path up the hill along the edge of the Arboretum. On weekends one often happens upon events at the top of the hill hosted by the very dedicated Friends of the Farm. The route on the west side, which I took today, takes you through a large parking lot heading up the hill. Once at the top, a few dippy do’s brings you to architectural delights one hardly notices from the beaten path, such as the William Saunders Building shown on the right below, or this Victoriana greenhouse a little further along. It’s presently undergoing some construction. I hope they aren’t dismantling it.
Now back to the really tricky section – getting from the Experimental Farm Pathway where it meets Merivale Road, to the area near Baseline and Clyde. You especially want to avoid Merivale and Baseline. Traffic here is so crazy – last Fall this trailer exploded into flames as I biked by.
But how does one navigate safely through this area? Well for todays route, here’s what I did: 1) I went to the Google Maps site; 2) I typed in ‘Baseline and Clyde’ in the search box; 3) I clicked on the ‘get directions’ icon; 4) In the box beside ‘A’ I entered the address I was taking off from, and then finally; 5) I clicked on the bicycle amongst the four choices of transpo icons. Without further ado, it plotted out a safe route, avoiding the dangerous area in question. It was a path I would not have imagined taking, and it was perfect. The map below shows the section of the route that got me around the trouble spot in question. Thank you Google Maps!
I’ve covered streets in the Elmvale Acres housing development a few times already without even knowing it. Created by Robert Campeau‘s company in the 1950’s, it comprised 1600 homes built on acres of farmland. It was his biggest housing development at the time. Now absorbed into Alta Vista, its existence is alluded to on my paper map by the Elmvale Acres Shopping Centre. A friend mentioned he had grown up in Elmvale Acres, so with fresh info and renewed interest, I headed over to visit the few remaining streets in the area to be hi-lited on my map. Figuring out the boundaries of Elmvale Acres proved a little tricky. The most detailed description I found was on this real estate website, which I’ve outlined below. Hope it’s right.
Here are the streets within Elmvale Acres I covered today.
While the design of the buildings varied, it was interesting seeking out common details, figuring out which forms and proportions had survived the test of time. The varied flat stones on the exterior walls on this house, in combination with the rich red brick were a common detail, emphasized by the horizontal sills extending beyond the edge of the windows. I like it.
Campeau is described in one of his biographies as having very high standards of quality control. The number of houses within Elmvale Acres retaining their original form would support this argument. For example this house with it’s vertical bands of brick appears to be original.
The house in the photo below also appears authentic. The one to the left beside it in the same photo must have been identical, having since been renovated with the addition of a wooden deck and matching siding, but never completely shedding its original proportions.
Similarly the house shown below, extensively renovated on the outside, will always retain it’s mid-century proportions.
Those houses which have been renovated and taken on their own personality over the past 55 to 60 years have allowed this area to shed an overly dominant sense of repetitiveness that may have existed when they were built. The mature trees and gardens lining the streets contribute to this even more so. Tragically, on one of the last streets visited in the area today I noticed instances of the devastation being wrought by the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle, previously mentioned in this post. A sad sight, a time for rebirth.
One defining feature Elmvale Acres has as a housing development which it shares with developments that followed is the lack of businesses within the community, something my ex-Elmvale Acres resident friend laments. As he pointed out, older communities in Europe as well as some within our region retain more mixed use, such as Centretown and Vanier. I heard the same opinion expressed by Bruce Firestone, interestingly, at a presentation on Lebretton Flats awhile back, summarized in this bloggers posting. Important stuff to ponder as our region evolves.
Needed to pick up some work stuff in Nepean, so I biked there.
Along the Ottawa River Pathway the rich odour from last nights deluge as it fed the desperate flora was intoxicating.
Someone has painted a landscape on this exposed stump of what once must have been a huge branch. The profile of another tree trunk close by has the form of a jovial face.
It was windy.
This morning I headed out to discover the Pine Grove Sector of the Greenbelt pathway.
While passing Hawthorne Park on the way, I noticed this elegant baseball fence behind home plate, made out of chain-link fencing no less.
Still en route, I biked under the wires leading from this hydro complex along Russell Road, as they buzzed madly above me.
The first stretch of trail between Russell Road and Hawthorne Road is lined with Queen Anne’s Lace growing as tall as my handle bars.
The trail eventually bends just before the entrance to Pine Grove Forestry Trail. I didn’t have time to explore the trail, but I did notice the first of these small interpretive panels, the graphics for which are so beautifully layed out. The artist who rendered them is Kiyomi Shoyama. I will return with Carla and the kids to visit the Pine Grove Forestry Trail on the weekend.
There are a number of larger interpretive panels on the way to where the path crosses Davidson Road, to be studied when we return.
Decided to check out Boulevard de la Technologie in Gatineau.
It appears to have few industries, hi-tech or otherwise, so perhaps there are plans in the making.
According to my map, the Boulevard suddenly ends at the edge of an open field. One way to check for unmarked roads or paths is to choose Satellite view in Google Maps. As this image shows, there seemed to be a faint indication of paths criss crossing through the field north of where the Boulevard ends. Noticing that some of these paths lead to Rue Fleury on the eastern side, I decided to try my luck.
I discover there is indeed a gravel path where the Boulevard ends. Further along, the path became truck tire treads through tall grass and dried mud.
Started to get a bit lost, when I came upon this tree with a ladder and platform perched way up high. I don’t hunt, but people I know who do describe using such perches to look out for game. Could have been a kids tree house, but the crushed cans of Busch scattered about the base of the tree suggested other wise.
From atop of the platform I noticed trampled grass heading in the direction I wanted.
Further along I came upon this abandoned helmet. But where did the bicyclist go…? I started to get nervous.
Finally I found what I had been seeking – the end of Rue Fleury! Phew! Back to civilization!
But what was this? A cow ski jumping on someone’s front yard? And what possible use could she have with that giant fork?
I then discovered another unmarked path at the end of Chemin Loretta….
… which eventually crosses the Wakefield train tracks, right where they are washed out. Very sad.
Continuing along from here, I joined the NCC bike path at the end of Rue du Dôme where you can catch this amazing graffiti flanking the highway 5 bike path underpass.
I headed home from here. A very exciting outing.
We biked 11 km westwardly along the Sentier des Outaouais from Maison Galipeau in Thurso to the pontoon ferry docking in Baie Dubé. The ferry usually carries passengers and bikes on a half hour ride to the visitors centre near Plaisance, however the mouth of the Petite-Nation River which the boat follows to the visitors centre was not navigable due to the ongoing drought, so we biked back the way we came.
Apart from the occasional motorboat passing on the Ottawa river, we were surrounded by nature.
We took advantage of one of the many picnic tables interspersed along the route. A couple of lookout towers near both ends of the trail allowed us to observe the flora and fauna of the inland marshes from above.
I was very proud of the whole gang. 22km. I think we set a family distance record. To celebrate we headed into Plaisance for an ice cream. This place has a choice of 20 flavours of slushie, 20 flavours of hard ice cream, and 60 flavours of SOFT ice cream!