Here’s a bike ride that works it’s way westwardly through the centre of Gatineau, starting from Jacques Cartier Park on the edge of the Ottawa River to just within the southern tip of Gatineau Park. The route follows a series of connecting paths along which there are a number of interesting sculptural installations and interpretive panels that describe the history of the area.
Our adventure begins just to the east of Maison Charon facing a trio of bronze and stone interpretive displays. These describe, in turn, the entrepreneur Philemon Wright who settled in the area during the 1800’s and developed the logging industry; the importance of the Ottawa River as a trading route and meeting place throughout time; and the history of Maison Charon.
The Voyageurs Pathway runs behind Maison Charon. I followed it south a short distance to another grouping of panels that describe the Ottawa as a ‘River of many Stories’, including those of the First Peoples, the coureurs de bois, loggers and log drivers.
I followed the path that circles away from the river, up towards a landing overlooking Jacques Cartier Park and a series of panels that describe how the area has transformed from an industrial site in the 1930’s to the public space that it is now.
I spun around and headed straight out of the park to the corner of Boulevard des Allumettières and Rue Laurier, where there’s huge bronze sculpture of Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Maurice Richard.
The De l’ile pathway starts on the other side of Rue Laurier and winds it’s way west. Just before reaching the intersection of Boulevard Maissoneuve and Boulevard des Allumettières there is an interpretive panel describing who the Allumettières were: female labourers who worked in the local EB Eddy factories making matches, and their struggles for workers rights.
In the above photo one can see the huge stained glass installation by Montreal artist Hal Ingberg that allows for some spectacular shadows, depending on how sunny it is.
At the corner of Rue Laval and Boulevard des Allumettières sits a metal sculpture inspired by origami. Created by a group of local artists from the Tripode Group, it was commissioned to celebrate the International Year of the Family in 1994.
The next section of the De l’ile pathway is a pleasant meander through the local community as far as Rue Saint Rédempteur.
There is a signalized crosswalk to get across Rue St Rédempteur before the path continues between a high school and the Robert Guertin arena where the Gatineau junior hockey team Les Olympiques play.
The path eventually meets up with the Ruisseau de la Brasserie Pathway. Turning left where the two paths meet leads to a bridge with some fine views overlooking the stream (or ruisseau).
The path continues alongside the ruisseau. Part way down the path there is a french interpretive panel describing the biodiversity found in this area.
I turned off the Ruisseau de la Brasserie Pathway just before it continued under the Boulevard des Allumettières, and followed the path that goes alongside les Allumettières.
The path along Boulevard des Allumettières is generous and physically separated from the busy boulevard, however a few intersections along the way can be a bit nerve wracking. These include on & off ramps to highway 50, and a couple of round-abouts.
At the first round-about there is a french interpretive panel that describes the struggles and efforts members of the local population undertook to minimize the impact Boulevard des Allumettières would have on their community. The Boulevard was eventually completed in 2007.
The path continues west with sound dampening walls separating it from Boulevard des Allumettières. This stretch of path is interrupted only by a second round-about intersection before reaching the exit ramp to the Lac-des-Fées Parkway.
The route gets a tad wonky once arrived at the exit ramp. The end goal is to continue west along Boulevard des Allumettières, however to do so one must follow a distorted figure 8 by first riding down alongside the Lac-des-Fées exit ramp, then winding your way back up on the other side of the ramp. Wouldn’t be too confusing it was uninterrupted, but it intersects the Lac-des-Fées pathway heading north-south at two spots. Best rule to maintain is to stay right.
Once back up beside Promenade des Allumettières there’s another french interpretive panel describing the history and surroundings of the viaduct over which the path continues.
Crossing over the viaduct brings you into Gatineau Park. A short hill once across the viaduct leads to the Gatineau Park Pathway where our discovery ride ends.
For a fine alternative return route back towards the starting point, I would suggest one described in part on this post, Biking from Gatineau Park to Ottawa.