Bruce Garner – A bicycle tour of his sculptures in and around downtown Ottawa

Recent stories in the media surrounding the possible relocation of Bruce Garner’s popular sculpture on Sparks Street of a grizzly bear reminded me of the fine collection of his works installed throughout downtown Ottawa, all within convenient biking distance. So I came up with this tour.

We begin at the corner of O’Connor and McLeod to visit Bruce’s last work, Paso Doble.

Paso Doble
Paso Doble

Next stop, Ottawa City Hall, more specifically the southern entrance, where this sculpture titled Outreach sits perched high up on a ledge.

Outreach
Outreach

Over on Elgin Street, in front of the Provincial Courthouse, you will discover the sculpture Due Process.

Due Process
Due Process

The next sculpture at the eastern end of Laurier isn’t one of Bruce’s pieces. It is the Lord Strathcona Fountain sculpted by Marhurin Moreau and donated to the city by Lord Strathcona in 1909, however awhile ago I came across an article that described the time and care Bruce and his wife Tamaya dedicated to the upkeep of this iron sculpture. The article spoke of the passion he had for the piece, so I’ve included it in the tour. Unfortunately the article is no longer online for me to link to.

Lord Strathcona Fountain
Lord Strathcona Fountain

Back into town and over to the Byward Market where from atop the Chum FM headquarters fly these two winged wonders, a piece sculpted by Bruce called Dagain.

Dagain
Dagain

Next, over to Arts Court where sits this sculpture just to the left of the main entrance.

Outside Arts Court
Outside Arts Court

Follow Daly Avenue for a short distance as it dips under the Westin Hotel to the edge of the canal where you will find the Conference Centre. The main doors and transom were sculpted by Bruce out of bronze and copper.

Reflections of Canada
Reflections of Canada

To get to Sparks Street to view the last two works on this tour I suggest walking your bike up along the curved sidewalk, shown in the image below, to Plaza Bridge and continue in front of the Cenotaph over to Sparks Street. I’ve hi-lited this walk in red on the above map. I recommend becoming a pedestrian for this section of the tour because it is far less convoluted and dangerous than trying to weave you way through the usually busy traffic in this area.

Path up to Plaza Bridge
Path up to Plaza Bridge

Along Sparks Street, mid block between Elgin and Metcalfe, you will find Joy. As the accompanying plaque describes, it was ‘Donated by E.R. (Bud) Fisher to the Sparks Street Mall Authority and the citizens of Ottawa. Sculptor Bruce Garner.

Joy !
Joy !

A A bit further west where Sparks meets Metcalfe Street you will encounter the bear. This sculpture was recently relocated to this location from the opposite end of the block near Elgin.

FullSizeRender
Territorial Prerogative

Thus ends the first tour of sculptures by Bruce. A second tour of other works can be found by clicking here.

Biking to Bank St South

Bank Street, south of the Rideau River bridge, is a treacherous stretch all the way to South Keys Mall – no shoulder to ride on, speeding cars jostling around each other in and out of parking lots, four lane intersections, etc. I avoid it completely by riding through the Arboretum, crossing over the canal locks at Carleton University, and following the path up to Hogs Back, as per the red line shown below. But for many, crossing the locks or riding along packed snow pedestrian paths through the Arboretum in the winter is not an option – cargo bikes, skinny tires, kids trailers, etc., so I set out to find an alternative. Blue line is my ride to Bank St South. Green line is my ride home.


Prince of Wales Drive from Dow’s Lake heading east has a very generous shoulder which has been cleared all winter. Some cars do drive very fast along this stretch and there are trucks, but it still felt safe.

Prince of Wales Shoulders
Prince of Wales Shoulders

The Experimental Farm round-about is a bit tricky. The shoulder disappears as you approach, and it isn’t absolutely clear whether we are expected to ride on the paved paths along the periphery, but I think that’s the intention.

Riding along Hog’s Back Road over the canal and the Rideau River is a bit of a challenge as well. No shoulders. Here the sidewalks become a shared path further on, so it’s fair to interpret the whole sidewalk as a shared path, as long as you are willing to walk your bike if you encounter a pedestrian.

Over Hogs Back
Over Hogs Back
Once beyond the falls the road widens again, although you can remain on the asphalt path as far as Riverside Drive. Brookfield Road is very wide with minimal traffic, no worries there, just be prepared to cross over at the round-about to the path on the opposite side. Can’t miss it, you’ll see the illegible yellow sign that explains how to behave as a pedestrian at a round-about.

Cross round-about here
Cross round-about here

Stay on this path on the outside of the round-about, which becomes a shared path that dips under Bronson and over the O-train tracks. This path has been cleared all winter.

Under Bronson, over train tracks
View from the path under Bronson towards the O-Train tracks

Then it’s straight up to Bank St. Et voila!

N.B. This is a fine route to Bank Street, albeit a bit circuitous. All effort should be made to make Bank Street safe for biking.

Up the 105 to greet the Nishiyuu Walkers

The Journey of the Nishiyuu‘, meaning ‘The Journey of the People’ in Cree, inspired me to head up the 105 alongside the Gatineau River to meet them on their way to Chelsea from Wakefield on the second to last day of their incredible trek to Parliament Hill. Here are the first members of the group I met who had walked all the way from Whapmagoostui on James Bay.

Lead group of Nishiyuu Walkers
Lead group of Nishiyuu Walkers

This bike ride is one I would normally not have attempted until the snow had melted but, inspired by the effort and dedication of these youth, I made it on my hefty winter bike, no problem. Here’s how.

I encountered the walkers along Chemin de la Rivière as they completed a very long climb up from the rivers edge. The confidence in their stride was amazing. Here are a few more shots.

2nd group

4th group

Amazing
Amazing

By the time our paths met their pacing had been stretched out as they were well into their day’s journey, so the above images don’t do justice to the number of youth participating in the trek.

They stopped for a well deserved lunch break where the 105 and Chemin de la Rivière meet.

lunch break
break

The biking conditions up the 105 are mixed. There are generous shoulders to ride along as far as the Larimac golf course, just watch out for sand left over from the winter.

Sandy Shoulders
Sandy Shoulders

North beyond the Larimac golf course conditions remain the same as described in this post.

The Nishiyuu will be treated to some great views such as this over the Gatineau River on their way to Ottawa.

Gatineau River from the 105
Gatineau River from the 105

But unless they deviat from the 105 they will also encounter views like this coming into Gatineau. Carla calls this scenario The Battle of the Pylons, pylons being the type of tall stand-alone signs popular with car dealerships and gas stations.

Battle of the Pylons
Battle of the Pylons

Safe journey Nishiyuu walkers, and see you in Ottawa.
Walkers

Bike&Ski to Nepean Point for the Equinox Sunrise

Yeah Spring! I decided to greet its arrival by catching yesterday’s equinox sunrise from Nepean Point. It’s also a great place to watch sunsets and storms approaching along the river valley. The big dump of snow we received the day before made me decide to bike down behind Parliament Hill, and then ski the rest of the way. The pathway isn’t cleared in the winter.

The blue is biking, red line is skiing, purple line is walking/skiing.

There is a parking lot on the edge of the river just below the National Archives you can access by a road that goes under Wellington. That’s where I locked up my bike, and took this picture looking out across to Gatineau.

Looking out across the Ottawa River
Looking out across the Ottawa River

Made it to the Point (phew!) in time to welcome Helios riding his chariot up over the horizon.

Here comes the sun, do-do-do-do...
Here comes the sun, do-do-do-do…

This is an exhilarating view at any time of day, looking north out over the Alexandra Bridge.

Alexandra Bridge
Alexandra Bridge

Time to head back. here’s how it looked along the path down towards the river behind Majors Hill Park.

Oh! que bella...
Oh! que bella…

In the winter Parks Canada leaves all the locks open except the very top most one. You can only cross the canal on a closed lock. I decided to ski across the river instead, just in front of where the canal meets the river. It was great. But don’t do that.

Ski tracks on the river
Ski tracks on the river

It really is a wonderful ski along the path below Parliament Hill. This is the view towards Asinabka, or Victoria Island, taken from where I parked my bike.

Asinabka
Asinabka

Biking up the Nanny Goat Hill I passed Megan Butcher at the corner of of Bronson and Slater. Megan has been taking great photos throughout the city which you can check out at http://www.flickr.com/photos/meganbutcher/.

Brewer Park Pond

This website (click) describes an isolated pond located at the South end of Brewer Park. It also delves into upcoming plans to re-connect the pond to the Rideau River. I’ve never ventured over there as I had always assumed it was inaccessible swampland, but recent aerial photos suggest a path circles around the pond, so yesterday I went and checked it out.

After biking through the Arboretum and pushing my bike over the canal locks at Carleton University, I followed the campus road that runs along the edge of the Rideau River.

I love this spot along the shore.

Train bridge over the Rideau
Train bridge over the Rideau

I also came across this statue of Ghandi which had been unveiled by the High Commission of India in 2011.

Lousy photo of Ghandi statue, still recognizable silhouette though.
Lousy photo of Ghandi statue, still recognizable silhouette.

At this point I would like to acknowledge the incredible role dog walkers play in making many snowy paths throughout the city accessible to bicyclists. This winter I’ve come to realise that off-leash dog parks in particular have fine packed paths. This has been the case all winter through the arboretum and, as I discovered on this adventure, along the path from Carleton U under Bronson Avenue and around Brewer Park Pond. The path begins where University Drive turns away from the river.

Path along the Rideau River
Path along the Rideau River

The path continues over a little wooden bridge before arriving under Bronson, where you are treated to THIS!!

Graffiti wall under Bronson
Graffiti wall under Bronson

And that’s just 1/4 of the paintings which surround you when you are under the bridge. This is where the annual House of Paint festival is held each summer, although the graffiti changes on a much more regular basis.

The path continues along the shore and Brewer Pond appears on your left, like so.

Le pond
Le pond

The pond was formed in the 60’s to create a closed in beach and swimming area. The building up on stilts in the distance was the canteen. Shortly thereafter enclosed beaches were deemed unhealthy and this one was closed in the 70’s. Now plans are afoot to re-connect the pond to the river.

Here’s how a section of the path appears as it circles the pond.

Path around the pond
Path around the pond

This fellow was out ice fishing on the river, just downstream from the pond.

Fishing on the Rideau
Fishing on the Rideau

So there you have it – a fine discovery.

P.S.! Here are a couple of photos Carla took around the pond earlier this winter while Nick had a 7am practice at Brewer Arena.

CarlaPhoto2CarlaPhoto1

The Richness of Reno’s – Big Buildings Getting Fixed Up

When I lived in Montreal I would occasionally walk through Notre-Dame-Des-Neiges Cemetery to get over the mountain. At one point they were blasting close to the older plots. Many of the majestic tombstones were supported with various lengths of lumber and wire, and wrapped in translucent plastic for protection. The light from the setting sun glowed through the plastic, creating a hazy silhouette around the stone monuments. I was struck by how the temporary protective materials seemed to suggest the rich fleetingness of human life, adding to the tombstone’s raison d’être. I wound up adapting the effect for the graveyard scene in a production of Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind.

Spring Awakening graveyard scene
Spring Awakening graveyard scene

Now what has all that got to do with biking in Ottawa/Outaouais? Well, ever since then I’ve been fascinated by the juxtaposition of temporary protective cladding around structures as they are being renovated, and right now there are a few extensive renovations happening in town, so I headed off to check them out. Here’s how.

First stop, the National Gallery, where they have just recently begun replacing the glass in the Great Hall. Here are views from both the outside and the inside of the Gallery.

Out looking in
Out looking in

View from inside the Great Hall
In looking out.

Second stop – the West Block on Parliament Hill.

West Block partially wrapped
West Block partially wrapped

They’ve got interpretive panels on the hoarding with information on the renovations, and a QR code you can scan which takes you to this site with even more info.

Here’s a night time view from New Years Eve.

West Block ay night
West Block at night

On the other side of Wellington renovations are happening to this building as well.

Renorenoreno...
Renorenoreno…

Right beside it sits the Press Club building which is wrapped up in a brown fabric.

That's a wrap!
Press club -that’s a wrap!

Helmet Hunting!

Last week an essential component of my bike helmet snapped in the cold, so on Sunday morning I set out in search of a new one. Armed with great advice from friends in Twittersphere, I consulted the list of local bike shops on the Capital VéloFest links page and chose as many I felt confident I could get to within a 1-1/2 hour ride, stops included. Many shops were closed Sunday morning which eliminated a few along the way. Here’s how it panned out.

First stop, Tommy & Lefebvre on Bank Street. No helmets. Still in ski mode.

Next stop, Kunstadt Sports on Bank. Slim pickings, none of which fit. The helpful fellow serving me promised more would be arriving within the next two weeks. He also suggested some folks use ski helmets in the winter because of the built in ear warmers. Interesting concept. I’ve become accustomed to the versatility of using a balaklava when required.

On my way west towards Wellington I was happy to discover this nicely packed footpath through Commissioners Park beside Dow’s Lake. Perfectly fine for biking as long as you are prepared to hop off and walk your bike on the side of the trail when encountering pedestrians coming the other way. Following this packed path allowed me to avoid biking down a good length of dangerous Carling Avenue.

Path through Commisioners Park
Path through Commisioners Park

Sherwood Avenue, which cuts diagonally through the Civic Hospital neighbourhood, is lined with impressive big old houses. In contrast, this more recent interesting design at Sherwood and Fairmount caught my eye. Love how it conforms to its angled property. The choice of exterior materials is also interesting, particularly the glazed plywood panels. I’m guessing the panels are designed to be easily removed should they require replacing, as glazed ply doesn’t always age nicely in our climate.

Modern house
Modern house

Next shop stop – Fresh Air Experience on Wellington. Again, limited selection as they too are still in ski mode. The fellow serving me did manage to retrieve a couple of Bell helmets from the basement which fit, however the slim pickings were making me contemplate putting off my helmet hunt until the spring. Then I got to … BUSHTUKAH!

Selection of helmets at Bushtakah (lots on the floor too)
Selection of helmets at Bushtukah (lots on the floor too)

Great selection of helmets, from some on sale to newly arrived models in the pricier range. I liked the fit and price of this Giro model, and this Bell model.

Giro vs Bell
Giro vs Bell

One more stop on my itinerary – Mountain Equipment Co-op. I was pleased to discover they have a fine selection as well. Not as extensive as down the street, but still lots to choose from. They definitely have the best selection of funky helmets, such as these shown below. I tried a black one on but it didn’t quite fit. Many others were equally as comfortable as those I tried on at Bushtakah, but none matched in price.

Fun MEC helmets
Fun MEC helmets

Kudo’s to MEC for keeping their bike racks cleared of snow.

MEC bike racks
MEC bike racks

I headed back to Bushtukah…..

Bushtakah bike racks
Bushtakah bike racks

In the end I chose the Bell helmet – equally comfortable to the Giro, and slightly more comfortably priced at $32. Wore it on my ride back along Scott Street and arrived home pleased as punch with my purchase.