Architect James Strutt Church Designs

James Strutt (1924 – 2008) was one of Ottawa’s most successful Modernist architects. He was called upon to design many innovative buildings for clients throughout the National Capital Region. Along with office towers, private residences and public facilities he also designed a number of churches throughout the 1950’s and 60’s for Ottawa’s expanding  mid-century suburbs . This bike tour visits these churches, identified by the red markers on the attached map. The blue markers show the location of other buildings he designed  including The Strutt House his family home he built on the edge of Gatineau Park.  It has recently been restored to it’s original design and has been preserved as an interpretive centre dedicated to the study of his works. A bike route to the Strutt House from Ottawa can found here. Clicking on a blue marker will bring up an image of each building.

The orange markers are buildings that unfortunately are not visible from points accessible by bike. The grey markers are those I have yet to visit but I will update the map with photos once I do.

We begin at the Bells Corners United Church. In 1960 the decision was made to build a new church to replace its predecessor on Robertson Road (now a spa) as it could no longer accomodate the growing number of parishioners. It was completed in 1965.

Bells Corners United Church

Our second stop is St Paul’s Presbyterian Church on Woodroffe Avenue. This smaller, more intimate house of worship, was an earlier design, completed in 1958. The wooden boxes on the roofs were not part of the original design nor obviously were the solar panels.

St. Paul’s Presbyterian church

Cyclists riding along the Experimental Farm Pathway will have noticed the distinct copper clad building just off the path at Mailand Avenue. This is the Trinity United Church designed by Strutt in 1963. The form was supposedly inspired by Noah’s ark.

Trinity United Church

The dominating wavy form Strutt designed for St Peters Anglican Church on Merivale Road (now the St. Tekle Haimanot Ethiopian Orthodox Church) was achieved by using a modern concrete spray. It was then clad in cedar shingles, similar to the one in Bells Corners, but since replaced with tar shingles.

St. Peter’s Anglican Church

St Marks Anglican Church on Fisher Avenue is from 1954. A number of modifications have been made to the original building but there is a great slide show with sketches and descriptions of the original design along with pictures of the church in construction that you can view by clicking here.

St Marks Anglican Church

St Paul’s Anglican Church (now the Ottawa East Seventh-Day Adventist Church) in Overbrook is tucked in between Presland and Prince Albert Street. Strutt designed this one in 1963. Originally there was a small cross at the peak of the taller roof.

St. Paul’s Anglican Church

Our final stop is the Rothwell United Church in Cardinal Heights. Completed in 1961, it has changed little from Strutt’s original design.

Rothwell United Church

A few more details on the design of these churches can be found here.

Et voila!

An Ottawa bike tour of designs by architect David Ewart

David Ewart was Canada’s Chief Dominion Architect from 1896 to 1914. During his prolific career he designed numerous buildings across the country, four of which are still standing here in Ottawa – the Royal Canadian Mint on Sussex Drive, the Connaught Building on Mackenzie Street, the Victoria Memorial Museum (now the Museum of Nature), and the Dominion Observatory on the grounds on the Central Experimental Farm. This bike tour visits all four.

 

We begin at the Royal Canadian Mint located just beside the National Gallery of Canada. The Mint was built to function as a centre of the country’s wealth at a time when Canada was flexing its growing monetary independance. Ewart applied details reminscent of medieval castles and late gothic styling over a Beaux-Arts-inspired design.

Royal Canadian Mint

To get to our next stop, follow the bike lane along Sussex Drive past the National Gallery. The bike lane gets pretty tight at the corner of St Patrick and Sussex so I cut across the broad plaza infront of the giant spider to get to the bike crossing .

Cutting across the plaza in front of Maman

Double cross the intersection to eventually get over to the bi-directional bike path that runs along Mackenzie Avenue infront of the American embassy.

Double cross over to path infront of U.S. embassy

You will need to weave between two sets of huge bollards set in the middle of the path that are meant to protect the embassy. They are a bit tricky to negotiate. Just beyond the second set of bollards is our next stop – The Connaught Building.

The Connaught Building was designed to house the first Canadian archives, reflecting the nation’s growing sense of Canadian identity. It was designed in part to meet Prime Minister Laurier’s vision for an architecturally coherent image for the capital. Ewart again used Beaux-Arts inspired principles as seen in its symmetrically organized facade and central main entry. To this he applied a combination of detailing from the  Victorian Gothic style, as seen in the Parliament buildings, and large manors built during the Tudor period.

Connaught Building

The interpretive panel visible in the bottom right of the above photo describes David Ewart and his work within the context of this incredibly productive period of building design in the capital. Definitely worth a quick read.

Continue along the bike lane to where it ends at Wellington Street. There is an advance bike signal at this intersection that allows cyclists to cut diagonally across Wellington to the ramp that leads down to Colonel By Drive. At the next set of lights hop onto the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway.

Diagonal crossing with signal across Wellington
Transition from the bike lane where it ends at Colonel By Drive to the Rideau Canal Pathway

Circle under then up and over the canal along the Corkstown pedestrian/bike bridge.

Corkstown Bridge.

Once across Queen Elizabeth Drive access MacLaren Street via a short jog along Somerset and The Driveway. MacLaren is a quiet street that you can follow west as far as O’Connor Street. Turn left onto the bi-directional segregated bike path along O’Connor and follow it to McLeod Street where on the left you will see our next stop – the Museum of Nature. McLeod Street is a one way heading west so to get to the front of the museum get on the path at the corner of O’Connor and McLeod that goes through the park past the wooly mammoth.

The Museum of Nature was originally called the Victoria Memorial Museum in honour of Queen Victoria who’s reign ended in 1901. This was Ewart’s most ambitious building for the capital, once again using the Tudor Gothic style. Unfortunately the instability of the soil on which it was built required that the original central tower be reduced by one level to keep it from sinking in to the ground. The glass tower now occupying the space was added in a more recent major renovation to the building. The fascinating history of the museum is explained in extensive detail here.

Museum of Nature view of the west face

Next get back on the O’Connor bike lane and follow it under the Queensway and on through the Glebe where it switches sides of the street and disappears/reappears in a few spots.

O’Connor bike path north of Queensway
O’Connor bike lane south of Queensway

O’Connor ends at Fifth Avenue so turn left onto the bike lane that brings you the signalised intersection across Queen Elizabeth Driveway. Once across, turn right onto the Rideau Canal Western Pathway and follow it all the way to Dow’s Lake where it ends at Preston Street.

Rideau Canal Western Pathway

At Preston cross over to the opposite corner of the intersection to the path that continues up along Prince of Wales Drive.

At the next set of lights, which is a pedestrian crosswalk towards the arboretum, turn right along a short paved driveway that becomes a worn path leading up a hill towards Birch Drive.

Path up to Birch Drive

Continue straight along Birch Drive, then right on Maple Drive to our final destination the Dominion Observatory.

Designed in a Romanesque Revival style, the Observatory was used to establish coordinates for timekeeping that at the time could only come from an observatory. Fortunately this beautiful heritage building has survived any threats of demolition even though it ceased serving as an observatory in 1970.

More about the history of the Observatory including pictures of it during construction can be found here and here.

Dominion Observatory

 

Et voila! Thank you David Ewart.

Victoria Day Bike Ride

This is an update of a tour originally posted in 2018 which has since seen lots of changes to the original route.

Victoria Day is a distinctly Canadian holiday, celebrated on the Monday that lands between the 18th and 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 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 to be the capital. 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 ultimately acted on the reccomendations of Sir John A MacDonald and made the final decision.

This ride starts on Parliament Hill where a statue of Queen Victoria was installed to commemorate her reign after she passed away in 1901. We then head along the Ottawa River and up through Gatineau Park to the small Chelsea Pioneers Cemetery where lies Private Richard Rowland Thompson, 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.

At present the statue of Victoria located just to the west of the Centre Block on Parliament Hill can only be viewed from behind a wire fence as the site is being refurbished.

As close as we get

Exit Parliament Hill heading west and turn right after passing through the RCMP bollards.

Turn right once beyond the RCMP bollards

The road hugging the western edge of Parliament Hill winds down through a series of parking lots to the edge of the Ottawa River Pathway.

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

Head left along the pathway and just before it goes under Wellington St take the ramp up to the Portage Bridge and cross the bridge over the river towards Quebec along the bi-directional bike path.

The Portage bridge leap frogs across Victoria Island. Normally you can access and explore the island from the bridge but it is presently closed off for some site remediation. I will update the post once the island is reopened to visitors. The tall stone building ruin visible just off the path is an old carbide Mill.

Carbide Mill on Victoria Island

Once across the bridge follow the Voyageurs Pathway and circle under the Portage Bridge.Follow the path all the way to a fork  just in front of a hydro site. Head right at the fork.

Exit off Voyageurs Pathway towards Gatineau Park

This leads 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.

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

Heading up the Gatineau Park Pathway

Access Chemin de la Mine from the pathway and head north. Desperately needed bike lanes were added to most of Chemin de la Mine between the pathway and Notch Road in 2019.

Bike lane along Chemin de la Mine

The bike lane disappears for a stretch just before it ends at Notch Road. I’ve identified this by a red line on the map. I hope they add this missing section of bike lane as soon as possible.

Turn right onto Notch Road. It also has bike lanes that have been added within the last couple of years.

Notch Road

Turn right onto Chemin de Kingsmere then right onto the bike lane along Chemin Old Chelsea east heading over the Gatineau Autoroute, all the way to Route 105.

Turn left up the 105 and ride along the paved shoulder all the way to the small sign indicating the entrance to the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery .

Shoulder along the 105 between Chemin Old Chelsea and Scott Road
Entrance sign for the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery

Down a short dirt road you will arrive at the small cemetery where lay the remains of Private Richard Rowland Thompson. He was awarded the Queen’s Scarf of Honour, for his actions in the Boer War Battle of Paardeberg where he 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.  The scarf is now at the Canadian War Museum.

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

Exiting the cemetery continue north along the 105 before turning onto Chemin Scott which also has bike lanes heading into Old Chelsea.

Segregted bike lanes along Scott heading into Old Chelsea

When pandemics aren’t around one can stop in for a very yummy brunch at the restaurant Tonique. If ice cream is what you crave La Cigale is right next door. On Victoria Day 2020 it was open for curbside orders.

Banana Nutella Crepe and Croque-Madame brunches at Tonique
La Cigale

Chemin Scott intersects Chemin Old Chelsea which you can hop back onto and retrace the route in reverse back to Ottawa.

Et voila!

Biking from Strathcona Park to South Keys

Jeanne was asking about a bike route from Strathcona Park to the South Keys Shopping Centre. Here’s a map. Description and photo’s below.

Starting from the Strathcona Park side of the Adawe bridge River follow the path that runs along the Rideau River heading upstream.

START : Path through Strathcona Park heading upstream from the Adawe bridge

The path continues along the river, going under the Queensway and up behind the University of Ottawa football field, before reaching the Hurdman Bridge. Cross over the Hurdman Bridge bike path beside the O-Train tracks.

Approaching the Hurdman Bridge

Once over the bridge circle down to your left and continue heading upstream along the Rideau River Pathway.

Just after some big power line towers turn left onto a path which will bring you to a signalised crossing at Riverside Drive over to Frobisher Lane.

Rideau River Pathway. Arrow indicates exit path beyond the power line tower.
Crossing at Riverside to Frobisher Lane

Frobisher Lane gets you over the transitway. Once over the transitway turn right at the ‘T’ which continues as Frobisher Lane. Travel along to the end of the road where it transitions into a wide concrete walkway. Keep riding along this walkway to the lights across Smyth Road.

Cross Smyth Road and continue through the Riverside Hospital campus. At the south-west corner of the campus there is a path that allows you to continue straight.

Path at south corner of Riverside Hospital

This path then curls to the left over the train tracks. Once over the tracks turn right onto Rodney Crescent.

Sharp right onto Rodney Crescent after riding over the tracks

This brings you to Pleasant Park Drive. Cross Pleasant Park to the path starting slightly to the right on the opposite side. This path merges into Lamira Street.

Continue straight through the round-about along Lamira. The section of this route with the most traffic is the short section along Lamira between the round-about and Bank Street but it usually isn’t too bad.

Lamira St between the round-about and Bank St

Head straight through the intersection at Bank onto Belanger Ave which is a quiet residential street. So is Clementine Blvd onto which you will turn left  where Belanger ends.

Biking along Clementine Blvd

Follow Clementine all the way to Brookfield Road. Turn right onto Brookfield. At the corner of Brookfield and Junction Ave head straight onto the Brookfield Path.

Accessing Brookfield Path from the corner of Brookfield Road and Junction Ave

Brookfield Path winds its way down a curving wooden boardwalk under the train tracks, then up the other side. It’s quite a lovely little section.

Start of Brookfield Path boardwalk

At the top of the hill turn left onto the Sawmill Creek Pathway.

Exit off Brookfield Path to Sawmill Creek Path

Sawmill Creek Pathway mostly runs alongside the Airport Parkway,  occasionally veering further away, at one time following the transit way for a short spell.

Sawmill Creek Pathway running alongside the Airport Parkway

Continue under the distinct pedestrian/bike bridge that goes over the Airport Parkway. Once on the other side take the second exit left off the pathway (the first exit is the ramp up over the bridge. Don’t take that) .

Heading under the bridge towards the second exit off the Sawmill Creek Pathway

This short section of path will take you to a tunnel that goes under the O-Train tracks and an enclosed passageway that goes under the transitway. The confusing sign at the entrance of the enclosed section says no bikes allowed, but OC Transpo confirmed you can walk your bike through.

Tunnel & passageway

On the other side you will find yourself at the southern back corner of South Keys shopping centre. Follow the road around to the front.

Et voila!