On Monday afternoon Carla and I headed east to explore Richelieu Park. We took a slight detour along the way to have a peek at Gamman House, purported to be the oldest house in the pre-amalgamated city of Vanier. Here’s the route we followed.
I was anxious to see what shape Gamman House was in, since the image on Google Street view shows it boarded up and seemingly abandoned. According to this article recent plans to turn it into the Ottawa’s Workers’ Heritage Centre Museum have fallen through. When we pedaled up to it I was pleased to discover the exterior in good shape. Renovations are being done on the inside. What it will be used for I don’t know.
UPDATE, April 12, 2013 – Gamman House has been turned into an artists studio!
On the way to Richelieu Park we came across this eye catching and well preserved old house. A little plaque says it was built in 1923. A sign on the gate post reads ‘CHAT LUNATIQUE’.
Further along just before turning up Avenue des Pères Blancs sits this fantastic house with a front yard that pulls out all the stops.
Avenue des Pères Blancs is a nice long street leading up past stone pillars into Richelieu Park.
The Pères Blancs is a Catholic Society of Missionairies of Africa whose scholasticate occupied the site of Richelieu Park. They were expropriated by the city of Vanier when the province ordered the city to acquire more park land. This statue of the Virgin Mary left by the missionaries greets visitors as they enter the park.
Sneaking around the back of the building on the right, we came across this impressive communal garden.
Other vestiges of the Pères’ presence are scattered throughout the Park, like this white cross sitting in amongst the trees.
But the trees themselves are the most memorable offerings the Pères left for us to enjoy – hundreds of sugar maples which continue to be tapped annually, boiled down to maple syrup in their sugar shack, and celebrated during the Spring Maple Sugar Fest. Never been, but I hope to now that I know about it. Here’s the sugar shack.
And here is one of the many paths we followed through the trees.
We exited to the East and biked up Saint-Laurent Boulevard. Carla lived in this part of town when she was really young, and remembers this great vintage DQ sign always being there.
Too chilly for ice cream, so we retraced our path down St-Laurent and worked our way back through Beechwood Cemetery, which is extremely picturesque especially at this time of year with all the leaves on the huge trees changing colours. So why didn’t I take any photos? I dunno.
Beechwood Avenue to the north of the cemetery is a nice street but not so great for biking. Cars go fast and there isn’t much of a shoulder.
So if you don’t find it too creepy, biking through the cemetery is a much better option.