Victoria Day Bike Ride

Victoria Day is our distinctly Canadian holiday which we celebrate on the Monday between the 18th to the 24th of May, in honour of Queen Victoria who was born on May 24, 1819. One legend says she chose Ottawa as the nation’s permanent capital by jabbing a hat pin into a spot on a map between Toronto and Montreal to stop the two cities from squabbling over which one deserved it the most. Another suggests her appreciation of landscape paintings of the region inspired her to choose this location. There may be an element of truth to both when she acted on the reccomendations of Sir John A MacDonald and made the final decision. A big statue of the sovereign was installed on Parliament Hill to commemorate her reign after she passed away in 1901, so that’s where our tour begins.

At present the statue can only be admired from afar, as it is located in the midst of a construction site while the refurbishment of the West Block continues, however the surrounding view is still quite impressive.

Statue of Queen Victoria on Parliament Hill
As close as we get

 

The road along the southern edge of Parliament Hill goes down infront of the West Block. Our route turns right once off the Hill beyond the RCMP retractable bollards.

Turn right once beyond the RCMP bollards

Hugging the western edge of Parliament Hill leads to a service road that winds its way down through a series of parking lots to the edge of the Ottawa River.

Road heading down to the Ottawa River on the West side of Parliamnet Hill

Once at the rivers edge our route heads left along the Ottawa River Pathway, then right at the exit up onto the Portage Bridge.

Exit off the Ottawa River Pathway up onto the Portage Bridge

The Portage bridge leap frogs across Victoria Island. You can bike down onto the island from the bridge where there is lots to explore and discover. 1 2 3

Access to Victoria Island from the Portage Bridge

Once across the bridge we got onto the Voyageurs Pathway and circled under the Portage Bridge. The path heads up stream along the Ottawa River, which we followed all the way to the exit with a little sign pointing to Gatineau Park, just in front of a hydro site.

Exit off Voyageurs Pathway towards Gatineau Park

This took us to Rue Belleau, a quiet street with bike lanes leading to the intersection at Boulevard Alexander-Taché. The start of the Gatineau Park Pathway is immediately across this intersection.

We followed the beautiful Gatineau Park Pathway up through the park all the way to Chemin de la Mine.

Heading up the Gatineau Park Pathway

We accessed Chemin de la Mine from the pathway and headed north. Chemin de la Mine is a two lane winding road with little or no shoulder and often speedy traffic.

Chemin de la Mine

It eventually intersects Notch Road. We turned right onto Notch Road, a two lane straight-away with packed dirt/gravel shoulders.

Notch Road

Chemin de la Mine and Notch Road are the poorest sections of this route. The good news is that there are plans to put in bike lanes along Chemin de la Mine and Notch Road into Old Chelsea some time this summer or fall.

Notch road ends at Chemin de Kingsmere which has a bike lane leading in to Old Chelsea.

We turned right and followed Chemin Old Chelsea east heading over the Gatineau Autoroute, all the way to Route 105. There is a bike lane along Chemin Old Chelsea however an extended section near the bridge over the autoroute was filled with sand left over from the winter. Hopefully the town will sweep that up soon.

Bike lane heading over the autoroute along Chemin Old Chelsea

We then headed north along the 105 which has a paved shoulder. Many drivers do tend to speed along this road, however on the early weekend morning we rode it was fine.

Shoulder along the 105 between Chemin Old Chelsea and Scott Road

We followed the 105 to the entrance to the small and intimate Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery where lay the remains of Private Richard Rowland Thompson who in the Boer War Battle of Paardeberg saved the life of a wounded colleague and stayed with him throughout the heat of battle. He also attempted to save another as the fighting raged about him. For this he was the sole Canadian recipient of a Queen’s Scarf of Honour, one of eight scarves crocheted by Queen Victoria in her final year of life. The scarf is now at the Canadian War Museum.

Entrance sign for the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery

Resting place of Private Richard Rowland Thompson
Tombstones in the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery

Exiting the cemetery we continued north along the 105 before turning onto Chemin Scott, which has bike lanes as well, a section of which becomes segregated as one enters Old Chelsea.

Segregted bike lanes along Scott heading into Old Chelsea

We stopped for a very yummy brunch at the restaurant Tonique. If ice cream is what you crave La Cigale is right next door.

Banana Nutella Crepe and Croque-Madame brunches at Tonique

Chemin Scott intersects Chemin Old Chelsea which we hopped back onto and retraced our route in reverse back to Ottawa.

Et voila!

Biking To See Some Beautiful Trilliums!

There is an amazing display of trilliums in a section of forest near the southern edge of Gatineau Park. Here’s the route I biked to get there.

This ride begins on the Portage Bridge over the Ottawa River and travels along a combination of surfaces, from paved pathways, to roads, stone dust paths, and packed dirt trails through the forest.

If anyone needs a route to get to the starting point please let me know.

View down river from Portage Bridge

On the Gatineau side of the bridge I took the link to the Voyageurs Pathway off to the right, and then turned left under the bridge.  At present there is no option to do otherwise as the section of the Voyageurs Pathway down along the river is still closed due to last Spring’s flooding.

Voyageurs Pathway curling under the Portage Bridge on the Quebec side

The path continues alongside Rue Laurier before veering closer to the river’s edge through Parc des Portageurs.

Where the path heads away from the road towards the river’s edge

I continued along the Voyageurs Pathway which weaves up and down  through trees with great views towards the Ottawa River. The path is named after the Voyageurs who portaged their canoes past this section of rapids.

Voyageurs Pathway weaving through the tress

Just beyond the small beach in Parc Moussette I took the exit off the path to  Boulevard de Lucerne, then to Rue St-Dominique, which I followed across the intersection of Boulevard Alexandre-Taché.

Unfortunately Alexandre-Taché is one of the worst roads to bike along in the entire region. It’s a four lane arterial speedway with no bike lanes. Fortunately there’s only a short section to bike along to get to the start of the bike path into the Moore Farm. By the time the red light at the intersection had changed I had made it to the path before the trucks and cars overtook me. Otherwise, there is the sidewalk. It would be a huge benefit to the Moore Farm if there was a safer bike link to the Voyageurs Pathway.

Boulevard Alexandre-Taché just before Moore Farm

I then rode up along the stone dust path through the farm. The restored farmhouse has a very nice bistro open from Thursday to Sunday if one wanted to stop and have a drink or snack.

Stone dust path through Moore Farm

A bit further along the path just beyond the barn I turned onto a smaller dirt path that dips down to the right.

Exit onto dirt path

A short distance further along it becomes a packed gravel path. My guess is that it once was an railway bed.

Old railway path

After riding across a patch of concrete over a stream the gravel path veers left and becomes a a dirt trail through the woods. There are a few roots and rocks to negotiate along this path, but for the most part I found it to be well worn and easily negotiable on my hybrid bike.

End of gravel path….to dirt path

I started to notice a few trilliums immediately upon turning onto this dirt path. Gradually more and more appeared as I rode along, as they began to spread out on either side of the path. Absolutely magical.

Trilliums

Eventually the path arrives at an intersection.  Unfortunately these paths aren’t marked. By heading straight ahead the path becomes more rugged and there’s a fenced off compound on the right. That’s a prison. Don’t want to go that way. Instead I turned left at the intersection.

Left at the intersection

The trail continued under some power lines. This monstrous hydro pole confirmed I was heading in the right direction.

Under the power lines

Not too far along from the hydro lines the path gets a little rocky. I walked my bike through this short section leading down to the paved Pioneers Pathway.

 

 

Rocky section at the end of the trail

 

 

 

 

Trail joins up with the paved Pioneers Pathway

I continued along the Pionniers Pathway under the bridge and up to where it intersects the Gatineau Park Pathway. I turned left onto the Gatineau Park Pathway and followed it all the way back down to Boulevard Alexandre-Taché.

Riding down the Gatineau Park Pathway

There are lights to get across Boulevard Alexandre-Taché to Rue Belleau, which has bike lanes.

View down Rue Belleau

At the end of Rue Belleau there is a link to the Voyageurs Pathway . I then followed Voyageurs Pathway back to the Portage Bridge and across the river.

Et voila!

 

 

 

Biking to see The Legend of Swan River

For this year’s Ottawa Children’s Festival, one of the plays, The Legend of Swan River, will be performed at Remic Rapids Park, located 3 km’s upstream from the main site on Lebreton Flats.  There will be a shuttle bus to transport audience members from Lebreton Flats to Remic Rapids Park, however one can also bike to the site along the very pleasant Ottawa River Pathway. Here’s how. UPDATE: May 18 – This year’s Children’s Festival has come and gone, but this route remains a great ride from Lebretton Flats to Remic Rapids Park.

Starting from the entrance arch to the Children’s Festival along Sir John A MacDonald Parkway, follow the path to the western end of Lebreton Flats where it joins the Ottawa River Pathway.

Entrance to Childrens Festival at Lebreton Flats
Where the path through Lebreton Flats connects to the Ottawa River Pathway

Continue heading west and upstream. You’ll soon go over a little bridge before continuing along the edge of the Ottawa River.

 

Little bridge along the Ottawa River Pathway, just west of Lebreton Flats

The path also passes under the Prince of Wales train bridge, then meanders pleasantly all the way to Remic Rapids Park.

Path heading under the Prince of Wales train bridge
Another view to be had along the Ottawa River Pathway on the way to Remic Rapids Park

There is a fork in the path just before arriving at the park. Stay to the right along the water’s edge.

Fork in the path

A short distance from the fork you’ll notice a concrete lookout. Take the gravel exit opposite the lookout. This is where the play commences.

Arrivée!

I didn’t notice any bike racks at the Remic Rapids site, however there are many sign posts around the edge of the parking  to which one can lock your bike.

Bike lock up

Et voila!

 

Blooming Magnolia Ride!

This morning I found out via a tweet sent out by nature enthusiast James Wilson that ‘One of the biggest and most floriferous Magnolias in Ottawa is this Merrill Magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri ‘Merrill’) is on the horticulture grounds at Algonquin College. It is 30 feet tall and 30 feet wide. It is in full bloom today.’. Oooh, gotta check that out!

Then I thought of another wonderful bunch of Magnolias in the Arboretum. So, for lovers of these wonderful smelling flowers, here’s a 10km bike route starting from the amazing display in the Arboretum to the Merrill Magnolia at Algonquin College. The ride is almost entirely along multi-use pathways.

The Arboretum magnolias are just off the gravel path at the northern end of the Arboretum near Prince of Wales Drive.

Magnolias in the Arboretum

After checking out the beautiful display in the Arboretum, I followed the gravel road that heads up the hill alongside Prince of Wales Drive. The gravel along this dirt road is usually packed, but can be a bit unpredictable throughout the year. Alternatively one could cross Prince of Wales at the signalised pedestrian lights and ride along the paved shoulder/unprotected bike lane along Prince of Wales, as noted by the purple line on the map, but car and truck traffic along Prince of Wales is pretty speedy as it’s a popular commute route.

Up the hill along the gravel path, or… along Prince of Wales Drive

From the traffic circle at the top of the hill I headed west along the National Capital Commission (NCC) Scenic Driveway. Unfortunately the Experimental Farm Pathway only starts a few hundred meters along the NCC Scenic Driveway, just in front of the big red barn, and there is no shoulder or bike lane along the section between the traffic circle and the barn. However the sidewalks are paved.

NCC Scenic Driveway between the traffic circle and the start of the Experimental Farm Pathway
Start of Experimental Farm Pathway

After riding a short distance along the pathway beyond the barn I turned onto quiet Morningside Lane and then west again along equally pleasant Cow Lane that cuts through fields on either side.

Cow Lane

Then it’s back onto the pathway, on the other side of Ash Lane.

One confounding little spot for those travelling along the Experimental Farm Pathway for the first time is the continuation of the pathway across Fisher Avenue. This is because the path on the west side of Fisher is not alligned with the path on the east side. Instead it starts a short distance north, and is very poorly indicated or noticeable from the east side.

Where the cyclist in the circle is turning? That’s where the pathway continues across Fisher

Beyond this little navigational mess the Experimental Farm Pathway continues merrilly through a myriad of wonderful landscapes, all the way to Woodroffe Avenue.

Across Woodroffe the path takes on a different name – the Pinecrest Creek Pathway – which I followed for a short distance down a hill around a curve before taking the exit that traverses the Transitway.

Once across the transitway the path curls up and under Baseline Road. I got off the path at College Ave and headed over the bridge towards Woodroffe Avenue. Unfortunately there are no bike lanes over this bridge but the sidewalks are extra wide.

Bridge from bike path to Woodroffe Ave

the Algonquin College horticulture grounds are right across Woodroffe on the southeast corner of Woodroffe and College Avenue, but there isn’t even a sidewalk, let alone a bike lane or paved shoulder along College Avenue to get you to the horticulural grounds official entrance. Traffic along this short stretch of College Ave is often speedy as drivers take the wide curve coming off the 6 lane Woodroffe Ave. Fortunately there is no fence blocking access onto the horticultural grounds so I rode along a short stretch of grass directly from the corner of Woodroffe & College to the very nice brick path that meanders through the horticultural gardens.

Stretch of grass from the corner of Woodroffe & College Ave to the Algonquin Horticultural grounds brick path

I followed this path around to the east side of the green houses, where sits the glorious Merrill Magnolia.

The Merrill Magnolia at Algonquin College Horicultural Grounds

I highly reccomend checking out this multi-sensory beauty. The gentleman on site said there may be a week left of bloom as long as there is no overnight frost before then. Sheer coincidence, that gentleman happened to be James Wilson, who’s initial tweet inspired this ride! Turns out James teaches horticulture at the college and was just starting a class when I arrived.

One can also follow this same route throughout the summer to visit the Horticultural grounds which are quite beautiful.

Path through the Algonquin College Horticultural Grounds

Et voila!