Up the East side of the Gatineau River to Wakefield

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.

Sunday morning along the 307

Beyond Mont Cascades the road was narrow, winding and picturesque like this.

Water Lilies

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.

Wakefield covered bridge

And here’s what it looks like from Wakefield.

Covered bridge seen from Wakefield

Return to the Pine Grove Forestry Trail, and more!

Well, we loaded up the Element and headed off towards the Pine Grove Forestry Trail in the Greenbelt.

Driving Directions to P18

I’ve hi-lited the paths we biked and hiked with a white glow on this map.

Where we biked & hiked

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.

Interpretive Panel

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.

Trail

A fine family outing.

Hickory Trail and Hydro Towers

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.

2 of 8 Hickory Trail Interpretive Panels

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.

Hobbit Home?

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.

Snowshoe Trail

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.

Snowshoe Trail

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.

Side Streets to Baseline and Clyde

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.

Ways around Prince of Wales Drive

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.

Victoriana Greenhouse and the William Saunders Building

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.

FIRE!

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!

Elmvale Acres

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.

Some of Elmvale Acres

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.

Vertical bands of brick.

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.

‘A man’s home is his castle’

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.

Ash

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.

On the way to Nepean

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.