Clemow Avenue

Clemow Avenue is a unique street within the Glebe. It was supposed to become a grand avenue linking the Queen Elizabeth Driveway along the canal to the Experimental Farm but never quite got that far. More about it’s interesting history in this post. Yesterday I had a meeting on Clemow Avenue so I biked there. Here’s how.

These two houses, most likely identical at birth, have really taken on their own personality over the years.

Twins!
Twins!

This house at 170 Clemow was built in 1926 and is now the High Commission for Cameroon.

High Commission of Cameroon
High Commission of Cameroon

Here are a couple of other interesting houses along Clemow.

The Castle & The Cupola
The Castle & The Cupola

The eastern end of the street runs along Patterson Creek for a bit like so. When the canal is skate able the NCC usually clears the creek and installs a change shack a bit further east along Linden Terrace which would make for a fine bike & skate outing.

Patterson Creek
Patterson Creek

Clemow is a great street to bike down. It is nice and wide, there are traffic stopping planter boxes near Patterson Creek and no car access from Bronson. Unfortunately the bike lanes along Percy Street north of the Queensway aren’t cleared, requiring law abiding cyclists heading north to walk their bikes east to Bay Street.

Percy bike lanes in the winter
Percy bike lanes in the winter

Biking through a crazy snow day

Most days I would say winter biking is a safe venture, however yesterday was brutal. Along with having to negotiate snow piled up from previous storms yet to be cleared I rode through flurries to get to the Brian Kilrea Arena. I learned lots.

Pausing along Kilborn Avenue
Pausing along Kilborn Avenue

Here are a few things I discovered:
• Should have packed goggles.
• If it’s snowing, flashing lights front and back are a VERY good idea even in the middle of the day.
• Clothing with retro reflective bling is a good idea too.
• Most people these days think you are nuts to cycle in such conditions.
• I was forced to go down roads I would avoid in the summer, like the length of Bank Street between the canal and the Billings Bridge.
• I had to take the lane on many occasions – no choice. Fortunately every driver I encountered was good about it.
• Sometimes along extended stretches of road when I am taking the lane I’m OK with pulling over to let a line of cars pass, as I did somewhere of Kilborn. Within reason. Analogous to a tractor hauling huge bales of hay along a country road who sometimes pulls over for the same reason.
• It helps to be a bit familiar with which streets are slightly more travelled than others and, subsequently, are more likely to be cleared. Like Holmwood in the Glebe (cleared) vs 5th Avenue (not cleared, and impossible to ride down).

Now, why even try to bike in such conditions? Apart from actually wanting to for various reasons (health, environment, etc), folks who don’t have a choice, like those who forego owning a car and still have to commute, need to be able to ride through anything a car can. Here’s hoping these observations help. We have a ways to go.

This morning it was smooth sailing.

Biking to the Carlington Heights Ski Hill

Back in October I blogged a bit about the abandoned ski hill up at the Carlington Heights Reservoir. A friend mentioned he toboganned there with his kids so I decided to go check it out early this morning. Blue line is how I got there, orange is how I got back. Red is where I had to get off my bike and push.

It’s been awhile since I’ve gone for a ride at 6:30 am as I do in the summer. That’s because the combination of cold and darkness make my pillow simply irresistible. But this morning I gave it a shot. The thing that struck me the most as I saddled up was the dense hum of the morning city traffic, like that of a huge waterfall just a short ways off. Maybe it’s amplified by the wet roads, and perhaps in the summer it’s all muffled by the leaves on the trees.

I biked through the farm along the NCC Scenic Driveway like so.

NCC Scenic Driveway
NCC Scenic Driveway

On my way to the reservoir ski hill I happened upon another really steep toboggan hill at the top of Edgecliff Avenue.

Rated black diamond
Rated black diamond

To get to the very top of the reservoir I carried my bike up a steep incline and across a snowy plateau to be able to look out over the old ski hill like so. The toboggan run starts on the other side of the chain link fence.

Atop Carlinghton Heights Ski Hill
Atop Carlinghton Heights Ski Hill

Here is the top of the toboggan run. It’s pretty awesome, with built up snow jumps thrown in for good measure. It was so well used and packed that I managed to bike down the hill without sinking in.

Looking down the toboggan run
Looking down the toboggan run

Now THESE are one of the winter cyclists worst enemies – icy ruts on icy roads. They seem to thrive in the conditions we are experiencing, whereby accumulated packed snow turns to ice, and slightly warmer conditions allow the ruts to form. Even studded tires are defenceless against these suckers. Fortunately they are primarily found on side roads where there isn’t a lot of traffic. Best way to deal with these is to go nice and slow.

Icy rut
Icy rut

Skiing along a bit of the O-Train path and the Ottawa River Pathway

The O-Train path isn’t bikeable in the winter, but is it skiable? The other day I went to find out. Blue line shows where I biked to, orange is where I skied. UPDATE – Nov 2014: The path is now being cleared and salted from Young St to the train stop at Albert. Should still be able to ski along the side of the path for most of the distance described below, or just ride to the Albert station and start skiing from there.

I am really liking the bike&ski concept. Many cross country ski trails, inconvenient to get to by foot or car, are but a quick bike ride away! The new trail along the O-Train is accessible between Somerset and City Centre. I locked my bike to one of the recently installed lamp posts like so.

Parked between Somerset & City Centre
Parked between Somerset & City Centre

I headed south along pre-set tracks. It is possible to access Gladstone, as shown in the image below, however I decided to turn around and head north towards the river after realizing I wasn’t too keen on having to take off my skis to cross a few streets if I was to continue south.

Accessing Gladstone
Accessing Gladstone

The backs of the Department of Public Works building and City Centre are visible from the trail, suggesting they were designed to cater to the network of trains and tracks which dominated this area not so long ago. UPDATE – April 2015: The DPW building has been knocked down.

DPW Building
DPW Building
City Centre
City Centre

To continue along the path beyond the O-Train station at Scott Street requires climbing over two of these short 3-rung fences.

O-Train Station
O-Train Station

The path from the station to the river is plowed, but not sanded or salted, so pleasantly skiable.

Plowed part of trail
Plowed part of trail

The stamped letters atop the railway bridge across the river reads INCE OF WALES. Strange name, but it could work with a little P.R.

Ince of Wales Bridge
Ince of Wales Bridge

The Ottawa River Pathway had evidence of all sorts of winter loving traffic – snow shoes, ski tracks and a well worn pedestrian path. I followed it west.

Ottawa River Pathway in the winter
Ottawa River Pathway in the winter

At the entrance to Lemieux Island someone had broken trail along the jut of land beside the river, an area I had never explored before.

Trail along river before River Street
Trail along river before River Street

The ruins of the old Hintonburg Pumphouse are located on the edge of River Street. It was originally built in 1899 but succumbed to fire in 1989.

Hintonburg Pumphouse
Hintonburg Pumphouse

Someone has cut a huge opening in the chain link fencing surrounding the ruins, however I would heed the DANGER – UNSTABLE STRUCTURE signs and stay out, for the building is obviously unsafe as you can see.

Hintonburg Pumphouse ruins
Hintonburg Pumphouse ruins

I then retraced my strides back to my faithful steed, packed up my skis, and headed home. A wonderful winters outing indeed. Lemieux Island

First Nations

As I write, Chief Theresa Spence of Attiwapiskat is in her 23rd day of her hunger strike on Victoria Island halfway across the Ottawa River, not far from here. The following press release re-iterating her cause was sent out on New Years Eve.

The entire National Capital Region is of significance to the First Nations as they were its occupants and guardians for thousands of years before Champlain visited in 1615. On Monday I toured a few sites and locations with specific reference to the First Nations. Here’s how.

First stop was the Odawa Friendship Centre on Stirling Avenue (UPDATE – The Odawa Friendship Centre has moved to 250 City Centre Ave.), whose mission is ‘To enhance the quality of life for Aboriginal people in the Capital region. To maintain a tradition of community, an ethic of self-help and development as well as to provide traditional teachings from our elders.’.

Odawa Friendship Centre
Odawa Friendship Centre

Around the side and back of the centre are the following murals.

mural1

Murals
Murals outside the Odawa Friendship Centre

Next stop, Victoria Island, or Asinabka. In the Algonquin language the word “Asinabka” means “place of glare rock”. It is considered a sacred site, where for thousands of years ceremonies and offerings have been made. Lots more on Asinabka here.

The cedar fence was constructed to house a summer interpretive program called Aboriginal Experiences. The tee-pee is where Chief Theresa Spence is holding her fast.

Asinabka
Asinabka

On the opposite side of the river at 10 Wellington in Gatineau are located the offices of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Indian Affairs and Northern Development

A bit further down river sits The Canadian Museum of Civilization, designed by architect Douglas Cardinal who is of Metis and Blackfoot heritage. His First Nations background is said to have greatly influenced his indigenous style of architecture, as described in this CBC radio interview.

Entrance to the Canadian Museum of Civilization
Entrance to the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Back over on the Ottawa side, behind the National Gallery, atop Nepean Point stands this statue of Champlain looking out over the Ottawa River. There used to be a bronze sculpture of a kneeling Anishinabe scout at the base of the plinth on which Champlain stands, but it was removed in 1996 at the request of Ovide Mercredi, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. I did not know that the sculpture of the scout had been relocated to Majors Hill Park a short distance away.

Champlain
Champlain

Near the National Cenotaph is the Valiants Memorial made up of a number of sculptures of key figures from the military history of the country, including that of Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant, a Mohawk who supported the British during the American Revolution. He relocated to the area near the present day City of Brantford in southern Ontario after the revolution.

Thayendanegea
Thayendanegea

I then rode up behind Parliament Hill to photo the Ottawa River, the highway used by First Nations for millennia before more modern forms of transport took over, first by rail, and now by road and air. There is Victoria Island in the middle, with the Supreme Court on the cliff to the left.

Ottawa River
Ottawa River

My final stop was in Confederation Park where stands this monument ‘To Aboriginal War Veterans in Canada and to Those That Have Fallen’.

Monument to Aboriginal Veterans
Monument to Aboriginal Veterans