Stromatolites are eerily stunning fossils dating back to the emergence of life on earth. The Ottawa-Gatineau Geoheritage Project describes them as ‘biosedimentary structures built up during sedimentation by cyanobacteria and blue-green algae’. The following is a bike tour of a few examples of Stromatolites visible on both sides of the Ottawa River.
Choosing the Portage Bridge as our starting point, we crossed over the Ottawa River to Gatineau and rode upstream along the Voyageurs Pathway.
Our first stop is located just off the pathway immediately west of the Champlain Bridge. These stromatolites are visible when water levels are low in the summer and fall. It’s the most impressive display of these fossils in the region.
Another example of a few local Stromatolites visible in cross section can be found on the Ottawa side of the river at the eastern tip of Westboro Beach. To get there we followed the bike lanes over the Champlain Bridge back to Ottawa, then continued upstream along the Ottawa River Pathway to Westboro Beach. There are bike racks in front of the beach pavilions if one prefers avoiding having to push their bike through the sand.
Our final stop is located along the bus transitway near Roosevelt Avenue. To get there we took the tunnel under the SJAM parkway at Westboro Beach, then followed Kirchoffer Avenue to the pedestrian bridge over the OC Transpo transitway. From the opposite side of the pedestrian bridge one can see a layered section of Stromatolites exposed at the top of the stone channel that was cut to create the transitway.
To get back to our starting point we retraced our treads along Kirchoffer to Westboro Beach, then rode back along the Ottawa River Pathway to the Portage Bridge – a rock & roll tour almost entirely along pathways!
More on Stromatolites can be found by clicking here or on any of the Geoheritage Project links hi-lited in the above post.
Here’s a bike tour of some great local legal graffiti walls. Legal walls are those onto which artists can paint without the risk of being chased away or arrested. The sites are identified by the purple markers on the map below. We also passed a few interesting non-legal graffiti walls along the way which I’ve identified on the map with red markers. It was great to have my nephew from Montreal along for the ride who is well versed in the subtleties of graffiti art.
We started off from the Tech Wall, corner of Bronson and Slater.
We then headed over to Gatineau. There’s graffiti on the Voyageurs pathway tunnel walls where it goes under the Portage Bridge. In the winter the giant ventilation pipes let out intermittent bursts of steam in loud hisses and pops. All very dramatic.
We made our way over to La Ruisseau de la brasserie pathway. There’s lots of bits graffiti along the walls of the Boulevard des Allumetières underpass.
Our second legal-wall is located along the walls of the bike path underpass heading beneath Autoroute de la Gatineau. This is a fantastic immersive stretch that pops up beneath a web of overpasses. As luck would have it, they had just painted over the entire wall in preparation for the next round of artists, however here are a couple of shots from a previous tour.
The path splits just beyond the underpass. We continued straight ahead to check out our third legal wall located a short distance along the path. This spectacular spot is located beneath the interchange ramps of the two major highways that cut through Gatineau, the 5 and the 50. The legal walls are on both sides of the stream, accessible by a small wooden bridge.
We retraced our route a short distance to the earlier encountered exit across a bridge over the stream. This path took us around Lac Leamy and eventually along the Gatineau River. We then turned up along the path towards Gatineau Park. At this turn the path goes under the transitway. Along the walls of this tunnel there is some graffiti which appears to mostly be a commissioned mural. Here is some of the work just at the entrance. I don’t think the Cookie Monster is part of the original work. The mural on the inside tunnel walls is more detailed.
The path weaves its way up towards Gatineau Park. I’ve often seen deer along this path, although none quite as calm as these two we met.
The path crosses under Highway 5 for a second time. This is where our next legal graffiti walls are located.
The legal walls in Gatineau are identified by signs such as this one above the tunnel under Highway 5.
The next section of the ride circles up through a bit of Gatineau Park before heading back over the Portage Bridge to Ottawa. From there we followed the Ottawa River Pathway before turning inland along the O-Train pathway. Some graffiti can be seen where the pathway crosses under the SJAM Parkway. My nephew pointed out that a lot of it consisted of a tag war, with two or more painting over each other in a tit-for-tat manner.
To get to our final stop of the tour, we rode to and along the Rideau Canal through the Arboretum, crossed over the canal locks at Carleton University, rode through the campus, and headed over to the edge of the Rideau River where Bronson Avenue soars above. This is the most impressive legal wall in terms of scale. It’s also where the annual House of Paint Festival is held.
That is the last graffiti wall we visited on this tour. We completed the route by riding up along the Rideau river and canal to Hogs Back Falls, then down along the path on the opposite side of the Rideau River before heading back to our starting point.
This tour is also a fine route for anyone wishing to visit the major water ways in our region including the Ottawa River, the Rideau Canal, the Gatineau River, the Rideau River, as well as the Ruisseau de la Brasserie.