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.
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.
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.
Once at the rivers edge our route heads left along the Ottawa River Pathway, then right at the exit up onto 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.
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.
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.
It eventually intersects Notch Road. We turned right onto Notch Road, a two lane straight-away with packed dirt/gravel shoulders.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We stopped for a very yummy brunch at the restaurant Tonique. If ice cream is what you crave La Cigale is right next door.
Chemin Scott intersects Chemin Old Chelsea which we hopped back onto and retraced our route in reverse back to Ottawa.