This is my first season winter biking in our Nation’s Capital. Shortly after the first few accumulations of snow I realised our fantastic local network of bike paths is geared towards the summertime recreational cyclist versus the all season bike commuter. That’s because, apart from a few routes like the Laurier bike lanes, most bike paths aren’t cleared. As such, I have found myself riding down treacherous roads which I wouldn’t dare bike along even in the summer. So I was encouraged when I read about Craig Daveys successful attempts to clear short bike path links in Lowertown through his often humourous ‘Meet me halfway’ email correspondence with the city, which he describes here. That was back in mid January. (UPDATE May 2014 – The link has disappeared, but the benevolence of his lane clearing spirit lives on).Today I chose a route that took me along most of those bike path links mentioned in his emails, as identified by the blue markers on the map below. Red markers are interesting buildings I clicked along the way.
Lowertown is filled with wonderful old two and three story dwellings like this.
As you can see, the first section of bike path at Guiges and Dalhousie described in Craig Davey’s correspondence unfortunately hasn’t received recent attention from local shovelers or the city sidewalk plow.
At 158 Guiges sits this interesting dwelling partially constructed with big old square timbers.
The second section of path at St Andrew and King Edward HAS been kept clear! Why someone chose to interpret it as a parking spot, even with signs saying don’t do that? I dunno.
Lowertown has historically been a workers neighbourhood, as described in stories like Angel Square by Brian Doyle, and represented by the few remaining dwellings those residents built and lived in. A selection of these are slated to be demolished to make way for a new Claridge Homes condo development in an area called the wedge, defined by King Edward Avenue, St Patrick St and the Rideau River. That is not to the liking of the authors of a report titled ‘Lowertown East, Our Disappearing Heritage’.
The Gauvreau Rowhouse shown below is one of those buildings, ironically being used by Claridge as their sales centre.
Around the other side on St Andrew Street sit these two condemned dwellings which are described in the above mentioned report as important to preserving the working class heritage of Lowertown. The buildings now sit empty and abandoned while Claridge banners hang triumphantly from temporary flag poles on the corners of each of the properties.
Path link at St Andrew and St Patrick – CLEARED!
This Rather well preserved building sits at the corner of Cumberland and Bruyère. It was originally constructed as a store in 1862, which I’m guessing explains the big corner entrance.
The final Lowertown bike path link at Cumberland and Bruyère wasn’t cleared. Here’s hoping Craig Davey’s generous spirit and good intentions provides encouragement to make bike commuting safe throughout snowfalls to come.
Here are couple of other glorious old buildings along Dalhousie with truncated corners.
I made a final stop at Stubbe chocolatier on Dalhousie. A friend told me it was the best in town, and Carla is a chocoholic.