Earlier this year I happened upon a story of a group of Gatineau citizens trying to convince the city to preserve a section of forest located in the Deschênes neighbourhood that was destined to be sold for development. One of the group’s compelling arguments, amongst many, was to preserve a rare stand of white oaks. Good news – they succeeded!
Knowing little about white oaks or their status within the region I decided to track a few down. Here is a route linking three specimens that are relatively easy to access by bike.
We begin in the Dominion Arboretum where sits this white oak planted in 1996. This one was easy to identify as it has an aluminum plaque attached to it with all the identifying info, as is typical with most of the trees in the arboretum.
After leaving the arboretum and riding over to the Ottawa River Pathway one has two choices; continue westwardly on the Ontario side as far as the Britannia Park neighbourhood, or cross the Island Park Bridge and ride along the Voyageurs Pathway as far as Deschênes.
The white oak I was able to find in Deschênes Forest is a short distance off the Voyageurs Pathway. There is a path through the woods one can follow to get there, the entrance to which is just before you reach Chemin Fraser.
As the Coronavirus has imposed restrictions on most forms of exercise biking remains a good option to get outside for some fresh air and physical activity. Another good way to pass the time is reading! Swap boxes and little free libraries are great for such occasions. Here’s how they work: usually streetside, passersby are enticed to open them up. If something inside strikes their fancy they can take it or exchange it with something else. Almost all of the boxes on this tour happen to be specific to the exchange of books, but they all work on the same principle.
This tour has evolved over time, as suggested by the photos taken throughout the year. Due to the drastic changes brought on by the virus I decided to revisit all the boxes on the tour to check which ones are still sharing. Those that are I’ve identified with a green marker on the map. The ones that are closed until further notice I’ve identified with white markers and taken off the route.
We were inspired to put up a swap box in front of our place after discovering a number of others around town that had been created by the late street artist Elmaks. There is also an online group you can register your book swap box called Little Free Libraries. Here’s an article in the Kitchissippi Times on some of those local little libraries.
First stop – Cambridge St North, just north of the Chinatown Arch!
Down Nanny Goat Cliff, at the corner of Preston and Elm, there sits the cleverly converted newspaper box Book Exchange.
Next it’s over to this great swap box at 249 Loretta Avenue.
A couple of blocks west at the corner of Beech Street and Bayswater Avenue you can’t miss this colourful Little Free Library/Boîte à livres.
A bit further down Bayswater, just north of Sherwood Drive, you will find this box with Tudor detailing, complementing the same style of the house in the background. There are mini solar panels at the base of the box and a string of red lights along the top so I’m guessing nightime visitors get an extra treat!
A few blocks away and up a hill you will find this very well constructed box.
Back to the north side the Queensway along Fairmount, then a couple of blocks west along Gladstone gets you to this next box on Melrose Avenue with a clever take on the ‘A-frame’.
Heading a few blocks north into Hintonburg brings you to this pair of book boxes at 50 Ladoucer.
A bit further west in Hintonburg you will find a box near the corner of Oxford & Pinehurst. This one has quite a history. In the Fall of 2016 someone complained about it’s original sprawling bungalow styling to city by-law and the owners were told to take it down by September 16th. Fortunately there was a last minute stay of execution and it got a reprieve. They then replaced it with a more compact design, which has since been replaced with the one that is there now.
Across the transitway there’s this fine tall box on Northwestern Avenue.
Our next stop is at the Corner of Carleton and Gould streets. A sign in the windowq proudly states, ‘Made by Quinn’. Well done Quinn!
We discover our next swap box just south of Wellington on Mayfair, where sits another super sweet Little Free Library. This one is hosted by one of the finest elementary school teachers we’ve had the good fortune to get to know.
A few blocks south brings us to this little library at 436 Mayfair.
Our route goes another couple of blocks east great Little Library box on Kenora St.
UPDATE – 2018: The Harmer St pedestrian bridge over the Queensway is being replaced and won’t be ready for another 2 years, so the present route as per the above map, goes along the Holland Avenue detour bike lanes.
At our next stop sits this generous two legged box outside the St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church. The little plaque on the front says it was made by the youth of the church.
A few blocks south you will find this great colourful box Hamilton Avenue South.
Right aronud the corner sits this lovely one on Inglewood Place.
UPDATE – Fall, 2018: A super cute little box for little swapable items has been attached to the side of the big box!
Over to this very beautifuly painted box on Evered Ave.
A mere couple of blocks west brings you to this stragetically placed box on Kenwood near Edison.
UPDATE: March 2020 The next box on the tour was a super sweet little swap box on Cole Avenue.– Sadly it’s gone. It was a favourite so I’m leaving a photo up in memory of all the joy it provided.
This fabulous box on Roosevelt Avenue has a dentil detailed gable trim and cedar shingle panelling!
Just a few blocks south/west brings us to this elegantly designed box. It’s got a corrugated pitched roof, a clear plexiglass door sans casing, and some nicely detailed colour coordinating.
The box on Mansfield has a bench to rest on while perusing the shelves. One shelf accepts exceptionally tall books.
A slight detour south to the Glabar Park neighbourhood brings you to this double-duty Little Library on Lenester Avenue. The lower box is labelled ‘Young Readers’. The upper box has stained glass windows!
Next you can find this fine book box on Midway Ave near Ancaster.
A quick jaunt down Woodland Avenue brings you to this most excellent box.
Based on similarites in design with the previous two boxes, I have a sneaking suspicion the next one on Apple Orchard Park came from the same designer.
Heading even further west, mostly along the Ottawa River Pathway, gets us to the Bayshore Park Community Garden & Oven which also has this big multi-layered swap box. The purple line on the above map shows a winter route, as the Ottawa River Pathway is not cleared. A more detailed description of this route can be found by clicking here.
Circling south mostly along bike paths into the Leslie Park neighbourhood brings us to two more boxes. The first is at 32 Abingdon Dr with a traditional styled hinged door. Unfortunately I cannot recommend a safe winter route to this box from the Bayshore Park box as most of the bike paths linking the two aren’t cleared.
The second is at 30 Harrison St that cleverly uses the JUTIS frosted cabinet door from Ikea.
Next is this box at 2423 Ryan Dr with a bench to relax and peruse the offerings!
Our tour heads east to this swap box at the corner of Sherman and Navaho Drive which has a little path leading up from the intersection.
Once again back onto The Experimental Farm Pathway before detouring onto this box painted all white on Kingston Avenue!
UPDATE June 2020 – This next box at the corner of Trillium Drive and Wallford Way is closed with a note suggesting downloading books from Amazon. I will put it back on the route when and if it re-opens.
The next most excellent box is on Bowhill Avenue.
There’s a box further south-east on Cahill St. To get there I crossed the Rideau River at Hogs Back Falls and followed the route shown on the map.
Further west along Uplands Drive you will find this great box called the Oak Tree Free Library.
The next few boxes to discover are in the Glebe. This one’s on Fourth Avenue, just east of Bronson.
This box is on Fifth Avenu.
This next box over on Thornton has great playful proportions!
Half way down the block on the opposite side of Thornton you will discover this great Book Sharing Zone box.
Our next box is just a few blocks over on Broadway Avenue.
Up and over the Rideau Canal along the Bronson bike lane brings us to Old Ottawa South. After cutting through Old Ottawa South through Brewer Park and an assortment of residential streets there is a short side trip over the Rideau River to visit this robust Little Library on Pleasant Park Road. The most convenenient access to Alta Vista along this route is along the awful narrow Bank Street bridge over the Rideau River. Walking your bike along the sidewalk bridge is usually the safest option.
One block south on Mountbatten Avenue you will find this wonderfully colourful box.
A short loop through the Alta Vista neighbourhood first brings us to this beautiful box with glass bead roof tiles on Featherstone Drive.
Our next stop on our Alta Vista loop brings us to this sweet one at 1647 Pullen Ave. Tons of TLC has been put into the painting details. gotta go see it to believe it.
A few blocks west brings you’ll find this Little Library on Devon St with a mini-bike weathervane keeping it company! UPDATE March 2020 – The post is still there but the box is gone. I’ll add it back to the route if it ever re-appears.
A little bit further north-west gets us to this swap box on Bloor Ave with quite an impressive base support structure. UPDATE March 2020 – A note on this box says it has been temporarily closed. It will include it on the route once I notice it’s open once again.
Continuing on our loop through Alta Vista brings us to this cleverly designed mobile unit on Knox Crescent.
Head back on over to the north shore of the Rideau River and follow the path along to the river to Belmont Drive where you will find this super sweet box.
A couple of blocks over you will see this great little library at 146 Sunnyside Avenue. Big footprint shaped concrete pavers invite passersby to peruse the shelves.
This nicely crafted box is located a bit further north on Glencairn Avenue.
Our next great box can be found just around the corner on Riverdale Ave. This one also has a generous concrete bench infront of it.
A bit north east on Belgrave Road lives this fine box, cleverly modeled after the house infront of which it sits.
One and a half blocks north at 75 Marlowe sits Mike’s Tiny Library. Super sweet!
Further east on Bower Street we find another fine box.
Nary a block over is this great box on Mutchmor Road.
Close by on Merritt Ave you will find this great little library.
A couple of blocks north on Drummond Street there sits this dynamic box-within-a-box.
Just a couple of blocks north you can find this fine box on Glanora Street.
Ride north along the Rideau Canal pathway then cut through the Ottawa U campus, then head east through the Sandy Hill neighbourhood along Wilbrod which is a one way street with a bike lane. Head one block north on Cobourg St where you will find this great box near the north/east corner of Stewart. It has hi-vs stickers on it’s legs, and a fine stepping stone to allow smaller readers to peruse the titles.
There are two fine boxes over in Overbrook. Cross the Rideau River across the fabulous Adawé pedestrian/bike bridge. To to the bridge head west along the Stewart St bike lane for one block then turn left onto Augusta Street. Augusta ends at Wilbrod but there’s a little paved path that takes you through from Wilbrod to Laurier. Cross Laurier and down the hill along Golbourn to Somerset. The Adawé bridge is at the eastern end of Somerset. Weave your way along a few residential streets to this fine Little Library on Queen Mary Street. There’s even a chair to relax in once you get there.
Just a few blocks north there sits this generous little library on Ontario Street.
Heading further east for quite a spell, one finds this hearty box at 20 Appleford St in the Cardinal Heights neighbourhood. These social distancing rabbits were ahead of me last time I visited.
Heading back west you will discover this fantastic box on Roanoke Street!
Next, over in Vanier there is this colourful box at 355 Pauline Charron Place.
Back to the bike path along St Laurent, head north then left on the bike path along Hemlock Road which gets you to this fine little library.
Next is this Little Library at Vachon & Dagmar.
Cross the river over the St Patrick Street bridge towards this bright red box at the end of Old St Patrick St. in Lowertown.
A couple of blocks north is our next box at 260 St Andrew St.
Next stop is in Sandy Hill infront of St Paul’s Eastern United Church on Cumberland Ave. At the time of my discovering this box the doors had unfortunately ripped off this generously proportioned unit. Hopefully they will be replaced.
Time to retrace our route back to the Rideau Canal before riding south into the Glebe. This sweet is box located at the corner of Strathcona and Metcalfe.
The next two boxes are neighbours on Argyle which is accessible via the bi-directional bike lanes along O’Connor. The first, introduced in the summer of ’17, is this brightly painted number.
The second box on Argyle has a little clock in the gable (UPDATE March 2020 – Sadly the little clock is gone but the box remains!). The surrounding landscaping is beautiful. There are also garden chairs to sit on while contemplating a potential swap.
Our next box is further west on McLeod Street.
Another fine Little Library can be found on Arlington a few blocks west of Bronson. UPDATE March 2020 – A note on this box says it has been temporarily closed. It will include it on the route once I notice it’s open once again.
There is a solar panel powering a light that turns on once you open the door to the box when it’s dark out. TRÈS cool!
A short detour west gets you to this box at 23 Balsam St.
Our final stop is this Mini Library, corner of Cambridge St N and Christie. This one takes taller books too.
I’ve been adding new boxes throughout a number of years as they are installed. If I’ve missed any please feel free to send me a note and I’ll include it on the route.
The O-Train Trillium Line is closed until some time in 2022 as they lengthen the tracks. Here is a bike route that visits each of the original stops, starting from Bayview Station at the northern end of the line. The route is indicated by the blue line on the following map.
Follow the Trillium Pathway heading south under the Bayview Station.
This path continues beside the O-Train tracks.
There is a slight detour one block over along Preston heading under the Queensway.
Beyond the Queensway the path continues beside the tracks. A bit further along is the second O-Train stop, Carling Station.
Next stop – Carleton University.
Cross Carling Avenue at the lights and continue straight along the Trillium Pathway to where it ends at Prince of Wales Drive. Turn left along the path that runs parallel to Prince of Wales Drive, then cross at the lights at Dows Lake.
Follow the bike path that runs through the Arboretum. This path eventually runs parallel to the Rideau Canal and up to the Hartwell Locks across from Carleton University. Cross the canal at the locks.
Crossing the Hartwell Locks
If Carleton University is your destination then cross Colonel By Drive and you’re on campus. Left on Library Road brings you down to the Carleton Station.
If your destination is a stop further down the line don’t cross Colonel By Drive. Instead turn right and ride along the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway.
Turn right onto Hog’s Back Road. The Hog’s Back Road bridge over the Rideau River is presently being rebuilt however there is a detour that runs along the side of this short bridge. Bonus – this affords a spectacular view down onto the falls.
Once over the bridge and back onto Hogs Back Road you can ride along either path on both sides of the street although I would suggest crossing onto the south side so it’s easier to cross busy Riverside Drive at the next lights.
Crossing Riverside Drive brings you to Brookfield Road which has a bi-directional bike path on the south side of the road. Follow this path all the way to the round-about. Once arrived at the round-about take the first crosswalk to the other side of Brookfield Road.
If your destination is the Mooney’s Bay Station turn left onto the path that meanders for a short distance down to the station.
If your destination is the next stop, Greenboro Station, then turn right onto the Brookfield Pathway that skirts the edge of the round-about before curving under the Airport Parkway and up over a set of train tracks.
Just beyond the train tracks turn right onto the Sawmill Creek Pathway. This path runs mostly alongside the Airport Parkway. It veers off a bit and follows the transitway for a short spell before continuing along the Parkway. You will ride past the Sawmill Creek Wetland, a fantastic series of ponds and a natural habitat for all sorts of birds.
Continue under the distinct pedestrian/bike bridge, then take the second exit left off the pathway (the first exit is the ramp up over the bridge. Don’t take that) .
This short section of path will take you to a tunnel that leads under the O-Train tracks, then through 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.
Biking is a great alternative to taking the train.
This is an update of a tour posted a few years ago as there have been a number of improvements to the route and the status of some of the walls has changed. The purple markers on the map identify legal walls, or those onto which artists can paint without the risk of being chased away or arrested. The red markers are a couple of non-legal graffiti walls along the route.
Our tour begins at the edge of the Rideau River underneath the Bronson Avenue bridge. You can access the site from Brewer park on the east side or along a dirt path from Carleton University campus. In this breathtaking setting you will discover two huge sets of walls facing each other across an expanse of packed earth. It’s also the site of the annual House of Paint Festival of Urban Arts and Culture .
Our next stop is popularly known as the Tech Wall, located at the corner of Bronson and Slater. To get there cut through the Carleton campus, push your bike over the Rideau Canal locks, follow the bike path along the canal through the beautiful Arboretum, then follow the bike path along the O-Train tracks. After passing under Albert Street at the Bayview Station, turn right along the path that heads east along Albert. Cross Albert at the bike/pedestrian crossing and follow the path up to the intersection of Bronson and Slater. The path takes you across that intersection to where you will be facing the Tech Wall across a fenced in dog park. You can enter the dog park to get a closer look at the works of the various artists.
The next bunch of walls are in Gatineau. Continue along the Laurier bike lane to Bay St, follow Bay to Wellington, turn left onto the bike path that runs beside Wellinton and follow it over the Ottawa River along the Portage Bridge, then turn right onto the Voyageurs pathway. There’s usually some interesting graffiti on the Voyageurs pathway tunnel walls passing under the Portage Bridge.
Continue along the Voyageurs Pathway and cross Alexandre-Taché Blvd at the lights. There’s a path that cuts through the small park, then over a small bridge. Turn right onto the road that eventually becomes the Ruisseau de la Brasserie Pathway. This pathway dips along and over the stream before heading under the Autoroute de la Gatineau. This fantastic immersive stretch pops up beneath a web of overpasses, made all the more sensational with graffiti filled walls. Occasionally the walls get re-painted a neutral grey in preparation for the next round of artists.
The path splits just beyond the underpass. Stay right (versus taking the small bridge over the stream) and continue a short distance along the path to check out the next series of walls. 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. On my most recent visit they had recently been given the grey overcoat. Artists had started to paint but there wasn’t too much to photo so the following examples are from a previous visit.
Retrace your route a short distance to the earlier exit that takes you across the samll bridge. This bike path continues around Leamy Lake then along the Gatineau River. Turn right off the path towards Gatineau Park where it goes under the transitway. At both entrances of this tunnel there is graffiti.
The path weaves its way up and under Highway 5 for a second time. This is where our final set of walls are located.
It was great having my nephew from Montreal along for the first version of this tour. He is well versed in the subtleties of graffiti art and he taught me lots!
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
Our final stop is the Rothwell United Church in Cardinal Heights. Completed in 1961, it has changed little from Strutt’s original design.
A few more details on the design of these churches can be found here.
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.
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 .
Double cross the intersection to eventually get over to the bi-directional bike path that runs along Mackenzie Avenue infront of the American 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.
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.
Circle under then up and over the canal along the Corkstown pedestrian/bike 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Exit Parliament Hill heading west and turn right after passing through 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
Exiting the cemetery continue north along the 105 before turning onto Chemin Scott which also has bike lanes 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.
Chemin Scott intersects Chemin Old Chelsea which you can hop back onto and retrace the route in reverse back to Ottawa.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This path then curls to the left over the train tracks. Once over the tracks turn right onto Rodney Crescent.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At the top of the hill turn left onto the Sawmill Creek Pathway.
Sawmill Creek Pathway mostly runs alongside the Airport Parkway, occasionally veering further away, at one time following the transit way for a short spell.
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) .
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.
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.
A few Christmases ago I posted a bike tour of statues of Mary throughout the capital. It was an interesting discovery of the various styles and forms in which she has been sculpturally depicted using materials able to withstand our harsh outdoor climate.
This Spring, just before Easter, I read a novella by the Irish writer Colm Toibin titled The Testament of Mary . It is a powerful humanising depiction of Mary told from her point of view near the end of her life in which she describes the events leading up to the crucifixion of her son. It was also adapted for Broadway and was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Play.
With this fresh perspective re-visited the statues on Easter morning along with a few others that I have discovered since the original Christmas outing. Here is the updated tour.
There are many more statues of Mary throughout the region that aren’t part of this tour, mostly located outside of Catholic churches or institutions, but not exclusively. I have identified a number of them on the map with red markers, and have included images and descriptions of them at the end of this post. Those that are associated with Catholic sites often depict Mary in one of the many Marian apparitions recognized by the church. I have noted those instances where they occur.
Our first stop is on the north side of St-Vincent Hospital just inside the hospital grounds. This version of Mary is placed within a grotto of uncoursed random masonry with a smaller female figurine knelt in prayer below. It is a depiction of one of a number of apparitions 14-year old Bernadette Soubirous had in Lourdes France in 1848. This plaster casting of Mary is a replica of an original by Joseph-Hugues Fabisch sculpted in 1864, based on the description provided by Bernadette. During one apparition Mary instructed Bernadette to dig into the ground from which a spring of healing waters flowed. I’m guessing this association with healing explains why this work was chosen for this site beside the hospital.
Second stop is at St-Patrick’s Basilica on Kent Street. Here she stands on a dome calmly gazing down with arms outstretched, perched atop a fluted column. The bright white substrate in which she and the column is rendered is in stark contrast to the grey stone of St-Patrick’s Gothic Revival design. I’m guessing this was intentional to make the statue stand out against the darker background. The pose in which she is depicted derives from an apparition of Mary to the Catholic nun Catherine Labouré in 1830. Catherine described seeing Mary standing on a globe with rays of light emiting from her hands. The image was reproduced as a devotional medal by the goldsmith Adrien Vachette and is referred to as the Miraculous Medal or the Medal of Our Lady of Grace. She is also shown crushing a rather distraught snake under her feet. This is the most common pose in which Mary is depicted around town, as you will notice in the examples included at the end of this post.
Our next stop is infront of the Notre Dames Cathedral where Mary can be found holding infant Jesus way atop the peak of the front facade. Installed in 1866, it was sculpted out of wood by a Spanish artist named Carbona and is covered in gold leaf. Here the proportions and detailing are less delicate than other works seen on this tour, which works well relative to the width and height of the facade and the extended distance the sculpture is away from the viewer. Mary is also wearing a crown, popular in the Middle Ages as a representation of her as queen of heaven. The same arrangement can also be found at the top of the front portal of Laon Cathedral, built in the 12th and 13th century. She strikes the same pose in a prominent spot on the front facade of Notre-Dame de Paris. The original reference of a sculpture depicting Mary in this pose was at the time of her first ever supernatural appearance in 40AD while she was still alive. Story goes, St James was having a tough time spreading the word in Spain so Mary appeared in a vision cheering him on and instructing him to build a shrine in Zaragosa at the site of this miraculous vision. While Mary was transported to Spain by a bunch of angels, others angels made a sculpture of her in Spain holding the baby Jesus and sporting a crown while standing atop a pillar. This event came to be referred to as Our Lady of the Pillar.
Continuing East into Vanier I rode up Pères-Blanc Avenue onto the grounds of what was once the scholasticate of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa but is now a park and interpretive facility run by the city. In the centre of a round-about at the end of the avenue there is a painted statue of Mary atop a stone pedestal. Mounted on the front of the pedestal is a bronze plaque that reads ‘NOTRE DAME D’AFRIQUE PRIEZ POUR NOUS A.D. 1955’ with an embossed outline of the African continent which helps confirm it is a remnant of when the Pères-Blancs occupied this spot of land. The crown she is wearing is more massive than the medievel style seen on the cathedral. I can’t figure out why this larger crown was chosen although it is similar to the one she is sporting when depicted as Our Lady of Fatima. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is also included as a pendant. Her outer garment is blue, the colour most commonly associated with Mary. The historical use of Marian Blue is attributed to the great cost of Lapis Lazuli, a rare mineral used in its creation, once more valuable than gold. As such blue was only used for the most precious applications like in the painting of Mary’s clothes. So, the association stuck.
Our final stop is the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes also in Vanier. As the name suggests this is a direct reference to the original site in Lourdes France. Here we have Mary in a much larger grotto of stacked stone than the one at St Vincent Hospital accompanied once again by a praying Bernadette. The statue is painted to further ressemble the original in France. Attached to the walls of the grotto are mini plaques giving thanks for various cures that devotees have attributed to her. It’s quite the site. At the entrance there are placards filled with many more dedicated plaques installed throughout the years. Opposite and curling up the hill to the left of the grotto are a series of framed depictions in relief of the stations of the cross leading to a sculpture of the crucified Jesus. There are three of the stations that include Mary, easily identified dressed in blue.
The following are additional statues of Mary found throughout the region that aren’t part of the tour. Their locations are included on the above map and are identified as yellow markers.
Saint Charbel Parish – 245 Donald St (added Oct 2020)
Saint Charbel Parish is a Maronite Catholic church. Here, Mary is depicted in a manner similar to her likeness at the end of Pères-Blanc Avenue, sans crown. The church is relatively new, the land on which it is built having been purchased in 1994. The location of the statue, immediately to the right of the entrance, seems to have been chosen from the outset, as the pedestal on which she stands is clad in the same stone facing as the building. This is striking as it breaks the strict symmetry of the churches facade.
Madonna Care Community – 1541 St. Joseph Boulevard (added Oct 2020)
This statue of the Madonna surrounded by juniper bushes is located just infront of the porte-cochère of an Orleans retirement home that opened in 2007 and it is one of a country wide chain called Sienna Senior Living. None of the other homes have religious titles or symbols in their name so I’m not sure why this one does. Possibly because Orleans has a high Franco Ontarien Catholic population so the name and statue are used to appeal to this segment of population(?). Regardless, it seems to have no affiliation with a religious order. This rendering of Mary seems younger than how she is usually depicted. Photos of this statue were often shown in the media when 30 residents died of the covid pandemic in early 2020 along with two staff workers.
Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church – 289 Spencer St (added Oct 2020)
Her name is in the title so, not surprisingly, she is prominently located right by the entrance. This was originally an Anglican church that joined the Catholic faith in 2012. As I was biking by one Sunday I was fortunate to encounter one of the priests (originally a minister), and he explained that the statue and plinth had suddenly appeared one day a few years ago, placed by an anonymous donor. I think as part of the transition but I’m not positive. Here Mary is once again depicted in the popular Miraculous Medal pose. The priest added the red rosary around her neck, which was a replacement of a blue one I had noticed earlier in the year. He explained that someone had taken the blue one. Because this is such an intimate little church the scale of the statue needn’t be large to be noticeable, especially right at the main entrance. It’s bright whiteness also helps it stand out against the brown stucco walls of the church and black mailbox with brass sticky address numbers.
St-François-de-Sales – Pointe Gatineau (added Nov 2020)
This large church is located on the north shore at the confluence of the Gatineau and Ottawa rivers. While the church is quite grand, Mary’s statue is proportionally very small, located way off to the left at the entrance to an attached building. Here she is once again depicted in the Miraculous Medal pose draped in blue, mounted on an elevated round concrete slab with lots of room for offerings from the faithful.
St Monica Parish – 2080 Merivale Road (added Nov 2020)
What is striking about this statue is how disconnected it’s associated church in style and siting. St Monica Parish is a strict modernist design with minimal exterior embellishments, which was common to that period architectural style. In marked contrast, the statue of Mary is part of it’s own distinct landscaped installation of a much more haphazard design, located a generous distance behind and away from the church. Fronted by a semicircle of randomly cut flagstones on which two benches of different colours are placed, the statue is set amongst a pot-pourri of plantings and nick-nicks. Some are temporary, like the various flowers. Some are plantings, some are potted, and some are plastic like the one placed in Mary’s outstretched hand. Other embellishments are more permanent, such as the multicoloured stones set into a lump of concrete that forms the base of the statue. Many of these stones have words carved into each, such as ‘Prayer’, ‘Patience’, ‘Faith’, etc in a mix of fonts, most resembling Comic Sans. To the left of the statue there is an upright stone slab with fractured edges, engraved onto which are the words ‘In Memory of’ followed by a long list of names of various origins – Alfonso, Beaudoin, Connoly, Korezyn… etc. There is no space between the last name and the ground which makes it appear as if the list continues down into the soil. To the left of the statue a rosary constucted of sea shells hangs from a hanging planter frame. Someone has also placed solar powered walkway lamps in amongst the plantings. The statue itself is identical to the Miraculous Medal pose located outside St-Patrick’s Basilica on Kent Street. I would not be surprised if they were cast from the same mold. The whole installation has a cedar hedge and some nice big birch trees as a backdrop with the Greenbelt extending beyond.
St Bonaventure Catholic Church – 1359 Chatelain Ave (added Nov 2020)
This Miraculous Medal version of Mary is set into a freestanding niche, historically a way of placing sculptures of saints within the walls of churches and cathedrals. One may also associate this treatment, albeit in a minimalist abstract form, to the Our Lady of Lourdes apparition Bernadette Soubirous had of Mary standing in a grotto. This relatively common form of presenting Mary statues is often confused with old converted cast iron bathtubs. In this instance the flat front facing provides a smooth surface on which to mount a protective clear plexiglass. A planter holder is attached to the front in which offerings of flowers or other items can be placed. On either side are concrete plaques, the one on the right reads ‘LES PAROISSIENS(NES) DE ST. BONAVENTURE ET LEUR CURE’, and the one on the right,’ ANNEE MARIALE 1987-1988′. A Marian Year (or Année Marial) is one the Catholic church deems important that Mary be revered and celebrated. Pope John Paul II chose 1987 to be an international Marian Year so the concrete plaques seems to suggest this congregation took up his call and erected this statue.
The new O-Train welcomes passengers with bikes! This opens up lots of bike exploring opportunities. Here’s a route from Blair Station, the O-Train’s furthest easterly stop, to a great local winery Vignoble Clos Du Vully just a short detour off the Prescott-Russell Trail. The Prescott-Russell Trail is a converted rail-to-trail multi-use path that starts just off Anderson Road.
Once disembarked from the train at Blair Station take the elevator up one level and walk your bike along the covered pedestrian walkway over the Queensway.
On the other side of the Queensway there are a series of connecting paths you can follow all the way to Innes Road. The paths aren’t perfectly allinged at a few street crossings but they all follow the line of hydro towers so you can’t get lost.
Cross Innes Road at the lights. Innes is a multi-lane artery road with bike lanes and lots of speedy traffic.
For those who aren’t comfortable riding along busy Innes’ unprotected bike lanes there is an off-road alternative to get to the Prescott-Russell trail that avoids having to ride along Innes and Anderson Road. I’ve indicated this option by the purple line on the map which I describe further down in the post.
For those who are OK with riding along the Innes Road bike lane, continue to do so until you arrive at Anderson Road, then turn right onto Anderson.
Anderson doesn’t have bike lanes but it does have broad paved shoulders you can ride along.
Keep right at the round-about to stay on Anderson Road and continue a short distance to get to the Prescott-Russell Trail. At the time of my visit they were in the process of re-paving Anderson just south of the roundabout but there’s still a good shoulder to follow. Hopefully they will include a generous paved shoulder the entire length of Anderson. Stay tuned for that.
As previously mentioned, if you want to avoid riding along Innes and Anderson there is an off-road alternative to get to the Prescott-Russell Trail. (see purple line on map): Let’s go back to where the path from the train station reaches Innes Road. Once across the lights at Innes ride through the Lowes parking lot to the front of the store, then to the east corner of the parking lot where there is an opening in the fence leading onto a well travelled path.
Keep left along this path which will take you over an old train bridge.
The trail opens up a bit further along and joins another path that cuts along a field. turn right onto this path.
Eventually this path meets the Prescott-Russell Trail. Turn left onto the trail.
The Prescott-Russell Trail continues on the other side of Anderson Road. This is where we left off with the Innes Road route.
The Prescott-Russell trail runs straight through a combination of woods and fields with a packed stone dust surfacing that my thin Gatorskin tires had no problem handling.
Turn right off the trail onto Sarsfield Road. Sarsfield is a packed gravel country road with very little traffic.
Continue south along Sarsfield then turn right onto Magadlry Road, which is also packed gravel. A short ride along Magadlry Road brings us to our destination, Vignoble Clos Du Vully .
Here you will be warmly welcomed by wine maker/grape grower Jan-Daniel Etter. Jan-Daniel loves his craft! On weekends he offers samplings of his wines while describing the particular characteristics of each. You can also purchase bottles of those you like. If it’s not too busy he will also give you a short tour of his wine making facility.
A section of this bike route is along part of the Ottawa’s self-guided Rail Trail & Winnery Ride . There’s another winery on the city’s route that we visited but it seems to cater more towards large groups versus drop in cyclists.