O-Train Trillium Line closed?! Bike instead. Here’s how.

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.

Trillium Path heading south under the Bayview Station

This path continues beside the O-Train tracks.

Trillium Pathway running alongside O-Train tracks

There is a slight detour one block over along Preston heading under the Queensway.

3 Detour
Short detour along Preston St

Beyond the Queensway the path continues beside the tracks. A bit further along is the second O-Train stop, Carling Station.

4 Carling Station
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.

Bike path through the Arboretum

locks.jpgCrossing 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.

5 Cross to Carleton

7 Carleton
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. 


Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway

The path goes under Hogs Back Road, then curls up to Mooney’s Bay. 

Heading up past the locks and under Hog’s Back Road


First sight of Mooney’s Bay


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.

10 Hogs Back Falls
Hogs Back 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.

11 Hogs Back Road
View down Hogs Back Road

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.

12 Roundabout
Crossing Brookfield Road at the round-about


If your destination is the Mooney’s Bay Station turn left onto the path that meanders for a short distance down to the station.

13 To Mooney's stn
Left to Mooney’s Bay Station or right to next station


14 Mooney's Bay Station
Mooney’s Bay 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. 

15 Brookfield Pathway
Brookfield Pathway heading over the 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.

Northern end of the Sawmill Creek Pathway
Exit off the Brookfield Pathway onto the Sawmill Creek Pathway
14 Sawmill creek path
Sawmill Creek Pathway running alongside the Airport Parkway

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.

Greenboro Station

Et voila!

Biking is a great alternative to taking the train.


Bike tour of Graffiti Walls around Ottawa and Gatineau

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 .

Graffiti under the Bronson bridge

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.

Voyageurs Pathway tunnel under Potage 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.

Ruisseau de la brasserie pathway

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. 

Stop 3 wall

Stop 3

Graffiti under highway 5 to 50 interchanges along Ruisseau de la brasserie
Graffiti under highway 5 to 50 interchanges along Ruisseau de la brasserie

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!

Tech Wall detail

Et voila!

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. Teklehaimanot 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 metal cladding.

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

Ride under the Corkstown pedestrian/bike bridge, then circle up and over the bridge to get to the other side of the canal.

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 and 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!





Statues of Mary

A few Christmases ago I posted a bike tour of statues of Mary located throughout the capital. It is as an interesting exploration of various styles and forms in which this iconic figure has been rendered using materials capable of withstanding our varied and sometimes harsh climate. This tour builds upon the original route with a few additional stops.

There are many more statues of Mary scattered throughout the region that aren’t part of this tour. I have identified them on the map with yellow markers, and have included their descriptions at the end of this post. They are mostly found on the grounds of Catholic churches or institutions, but not exclusively.

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 an apparitions 14-year old  Bernadette Soubirous had in Lourdes France in 1848. Most statues associated with Catholic sites depict Mary in one of many Marian apparitions recognized by the church. 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 the apparition Mary instructed Bernadette to dig into the ground from which a spring of healing waters flowed. This association with healing explains may explain why this work was chosen for this site beside the hospital.

St Vincent’s 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 is rendered stands in stark contrast to the grey stone of St-Patrick’s Gothic Revival design. This pose derives from an apparition that the Catholic nun Catherine Labouré had in Paris in 1830. Based on Catherine’s description the image was reproduced as a devotional medal by the goldsmith Adrien Vachette and became known as the Miraculous Medal or the Medal of Our Lady of Grace. Mary stands on a globe representing the earth, crushing a rather distraught snake under her feet. The snake however was not included in Catherine’s original description of the vision. The medals became extremely popular when originally struck, and continues to be so amongst Catholics. Being such a recogniseable depiction of Mary, it was translated into sculptural form and is the most repeated pose in which Mary is depicted around town, as you will notice in the examples included at the end of this post.

St Patrick’s Basilica

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 in France from the 12th and 13th century. She strikes the same pose 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. As legend goes, St James was over in Spain having a tough time spreading the gospel so Mary appeared in a vision to cheer him on. The apparition instructed James to build a shrine in Zaragosa at the site of this miraculous vision. As Mary was transported to Spain by a bunch of angels, others angels proceeded to make 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. The statue serves as 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. This larger crown is similar to the one she is sporting when depicted as Our Lady of Fatima, another vision reported in 1917 by three sheperd children in Fatima, Portugal. 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 as it is commonly referred to, is attributed to the great cost of Lapis Lazuli, a rare mineral used in the creation of blue pigment. Lapis Lazuli was more valuable than gold due to its rarity. As such blue was only used for the most precious applications, like in painted renderings of Mary’s clothes. Thus, 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 grotto
‘Meeting His Mother’
‘Jesus in Mary’s Arms’
‘Jesus is Buried’

Et voila!

There is a novella by the Irish writer Colm Toibin titled The Testament of Mary that I highly recommend. It gives a powerful humanised depiction of Mary told from her point of view near the end of her life. In this story she describes the events leading up to the crucifixion of her son. It provides a powerful contrast to the way Mary has come to be represented through various forms, in our instance sculptural. This novella was adapted for Broadway and was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Play.

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)

Mary at the entrance to St Chabril Parish
St Charbel Parish Maronite Catholic Church

Saint Charbel Parish is a Maronite Catholic church. Here she is depicted in the Miraculous Medal pose. Her cape and the globe on which she stands is painted a light Marian blue Some lovely gold trim has been added to her robe. The Immaculate Heart rests on her chest, something not described in the original pose. The land on which the church is built was purchased in 1994 so it’s relatively new. 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 in this coporate chain 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 news media when 30 residents died of the covid pandemic in early 2020 along with two staff workers.

Statue of Mary infront of the Madonna Care Community (bottom left of photo)

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. That said, she only appeared in this spot after this originally-Anglican-church switched and joined the Catholic faith in 2012. Catholics are known to be much more fond of statues, or as the protestant student noted in season 2 of The Derry Girls, ‘Catholics really buzz of statues and we don’t so much’ to which Sister Michael responded ‘I do enjoy a good statue, it has to be said.’. Biking by one Sunday I was fortunate to encounter one of the priests (past minister) who told me the statue just suddenly appeared after the denominational transition was complete. Here she is once again depicted in the popular Miraculous Medal pose. The priest put the red rosary around her neck, a replacement of a blue one I had noticed earlier in the year that someone had snatched. As it’s 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 and black mailbox with sticky address numbers.

Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church

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. The concrete slab is a relatively recent addition as evidenced by it’s modern form and confirmed by the blue insulation peaking out at the base. The custom of including Miraculous Medal statues of Mary outside most Catholic churches in the region appears to be tradition that started sometime well after the older churches were built.

St-François-de-Sales – Pointe Gatineau

St Anthony’s Church – Corner of Gladstone and Booth St (added Dec 2020)

Located to the right of the stairs leading up into St Anthony’s Catholic Church, this white marble rendering of Mary in her role as Our Lady of Sorrows has the associated seven swords piercing her heart. The swords themselves were sculpted seperately from the rest of the statue and glued into place with a thick brown adhesive. Four of the sword handles appear to have broken off. The white vinyl text on the polished stone base lists those individuals along with two funeral homes that donated funds to purchase this statue in 2013, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the church. The text is English and Italian as this church serves the Little Italy community in which it is located.

St Anthony’s Church
St Anthony’s Our Lady of Sorrow

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 Monica Parish

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.

St Bonaventure Catholic church

St Joseph’s Church and St Joe’s Mission– (added December 2020)

Here we have not one but TWO identical mini-Miraculous Medal statues. The first is at the corner of St Joseph’s Church, nestled under a sign at Wilbrod and Cumberland. The second statue is just half a block south on Cumberland, set in a bit from the street. The statues and inverted concrete planters on which they stand are exactly the same, probably cast from the same molds. They also have metal cables looped around them. The one on Cumberland is locked to something sticking out of the ground but the one by the sign isn’t secured to anything. Some unexplained history going on there…..maybe a few previous Mary’s went disappearing? Who knows.

The story of St Joseph’s church dates way back to when the the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate showed up to deal with a rough & tough Bytown as Ottawa was known then. A history of the church is described by Terry Byrne, in his book Where the Spirit Lives.

St Joseph’s Church Mary
St Joseph’s Church
Mary beside St Joe’s Mission

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Parish 1153 Wellington Street (added December 2020)

There are two Mary’s at this location as well.

The first Mary is nestled in a niche above the entrance of what used to be called St George’s Home, once a holding house for immigrant orphaned children. There is a plaque outside that describes its history. Gilles Duceppe, past leader of the Bloc Quebecois, discovered that his grandfather, John James Rowley, was a resident of St George’s Home.

St George’s Home
Historical plaque describing St George’s Home

Here Mary is gazing heavenward with hands clasped together in prayer. There are red roses strewn at her feet. She is in a pretty sad state of abandon along with the whole facade on this side of the building.

Mary above St George’s entrance

The second Mary on this site strikes the familiar Miracle Medal pose. Here she is more down to earth, framed by a sign announcing the name of the church and directing worshipers to the public entrance on Grant street. The wreaths at her feet are temporary, however she is flanked by two planted rose bushes. Roses seem to be the linking theme for these two sculptures. The side of the building facing Grant Street is in much better shape.

Mary standing under the sign

The abundance of Mary statues located thoughout the National Capital Region may seem bewildering, however one must take into consideration the overwhelming historical presence the Catholic church had in the lives of devotees. For example, in June 1947 Ottawa hosted a huge Marian Congress that included a parade of numerous floats winding past parliament Hill each depicting Mary in different contexts. There was also an enormous stage set built in Lansdowne Park with a colossal statue of Mary soaring above. A documentary film depicting the enormity of this celebration can be seen here.

Biking from the Blair O-Train Station to the winery ‘Vignoble Clos Du Vully’

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.

Exiting the station …. and accessing the pedestrian bridge 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.

Path connecting Blair station to Innes Road

Cross Innes Road at the lights. Innes is a multi-lane artery road with bike lanes and lots of speedy traffic.

Bike lane along Innes Road

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.

Exit off Innes onto Anderson Road

Anderson doesn’t have bike lanes but it does have broad paved shoulders you can ride along.

Paved Shoulder along Anderson Road

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.

Prescott Russell trail access on east side of Anderson Road

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.

Access to path at the south-east corner of the Lowes parking

Keep left along this path which will take you over an old train bridge.

Path leading 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.

Path from woods to fields

Eventually this path meets the Prescott-Russell Trail. Turn left onto the trail.

Path through field…..leading to…. the Prescott-Russell 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.

Carla pointing the way down the Prescott-Russell trail!

Turn right off the trail onto Sarsfield Road. Sarsfield is a packed gravel country road with very little traffic.

18 Sarsfield Road
Sarsfield Road

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.

Sampling the wines

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.

Et voila!


Biking to Carleton University

Biking to Carleton University is always a good idea for lots of reasons ( it’s healthy, economical, good for the environment, etc) but it’s an especially attractive form of transpo these days as vehicule access onto campus has been a nightmare. I hear it’s due to re-routing for Hog’s Back Bridge repairs. Whatever the reason, it’s a mess, so I’ve put together this map of bike routes to campus from various directions described in previous posts. I’ve listed links to those posts below the map. Some of the links describe routes that go through campus or are described in reverse so a bit of interpretation may be required. If anyone needs a more specific route to campus please send me a starting cross street and I’ll get on it.


From the north (Hintonburg) : purple bike logo – click here

From the south (Riverside Park) : red bike logo – click here

From the east (Alta Vista) : green bike logo – click here

From the west (Centrepointe/Algonquin Campus) : yellow bike logo – click here

Finally, here’s a bonus link to a route describing a loop that starts on campus, goes along the Rideau River to New Edinburgh and back to campus along the Rideau Canal.

Biking to Algonquin College from Alta Vista

As the new school year begins many students are looking for a bike route to their campus. Susan requested one to Algonquin College from her home in the Alta Vista ward. Here’s what I came up with.

Our ride begins at the corner of Colson Avenue and Saunderson Road. Head west along Colson, a quiet residential street lined with big trees and a beautiful leafy canopy.

Riding along Colson Avenue

Turn left onto Haig Drive then cross Dauphin Road to get to Portage Ave. Portage becomes a dead-end for cars but merges into a bike path that runs along the edge of Lynda Lane Park.

Bike path along the edge of Lynda Lane Park

This leads you to Lynda Lane which is a slightly busier street but there is a bi-directional bike lane on the western side of the road that brings you a block over to Pleasant Park Road.

Bike path along Lynda lane to Pleasant Park Road

Pleasant Park Road is a busy street that cuts east-west through Alta Vista. Many cyclists tend to use it because it is direct and the lanes are wide enough to accomodate a car and bike. There are also a couple of stop signs that help calm down speedy drivers. Unfortunately it doesn’t have bike lanes.

Biking along Pleasant Park Road

An alternative to riding along Pleasant Park Road would be to cycle down Billings Avenue, which is a calmer street that runs parallel to Pleasant Park as far as Rodney Crescent (see orange line on the above map), however it doesn’t have traffic lights to get across busy Alta Vista Drive.

Pleasant Park dips down to where it meets Riverside Drive. There are lights to get you across Riverside to a bike path that links to the Rideau River East Pathway.

Path across from Riverside leading to Rideau River Eastern Pathway

Ride along the very picturesque Rideau River Eastern Pathway to Bank Street for a few hundred yards. This brings us to the the worst section of our route – crossing the Bank Street bridge over the Rideau River. One may chose to ride in the roadway but that would force you into in a narrow car commuter artery that barely has enough room for the existing four lanes of impatient drivers. There are sharrows (a bike logo with a couple of pointy lines) painted on the surface of the outside lanes that are barely visible. Research has shown sharrows to be worse than useless, they are dangerous as they instil a false sense of confidence in cyclists by suggesting they are safe bike infrastructure when they aren’t. A safer alternative to riding in the roadway over the Bank Street bridge is to walk your bike along the protected sidewalk. One small consolation is this bridge isn’t very long.

View heading north over Bank St Bridge shows two options – riding on the Road ….. or walking your bike along the protected sidewalk. I recommend the sidewalk.
Narrowness of Bank St Bridge over Rideau River, view heading south

Sadly, safe options for biking across the Rideau River in this part of town do not exist. I’ve shown an alternative route on the map at the bottom of this post that continues along the Rideau River eastern Pathway up to Hogs Back Drive, but Hogs Back Bridge is closed for repairs requiring you to walk your bike across the boardwalk detour over the canal. While this detour is nice and accomodating, the time required to access and negotiate it is most likely the same as walking your bike across the Bank Street Bridge. Also, working your way to and through the intersection of Prince of Wales Drive and Hogs Back Drive is a dangerous mess.

So, back to the suggested route. Once across the bridge take the path that circles under the bridge and up past the Olympic medal display to Warrington Drive.

Path continues past the Olympic medal interpretive display

Continue along Warrington Drive, a nice quiet street that runs along the river, then turn right onto Wendover Street which brings you to Cameron Avenue. Cameron is a one way heading east, however there is a bike lane heading west. Very convenient. Follow this path all the way to Brewer Park.

Bike lane heading west along Cameron Ave

Ride along the path that cuts through Brewer Park to the lights that take you across Bronson Avenue.

Lights across Bronson Avenue to the Carleton University campus. Whoever’s at the wheel in the red car is a lousy driver.

Once across Bronson cut through the Carleton University campus over to Library Road as per the above map. The only tricky spot heading across campus is the tunnel under the O-Train tracks. It’s a little narrow and has a sharp turn to the right at the western end.

Tunnel under the train tracks

Take the paved link from Library Road to the crossing at Colonel By Drive.

Paved path off Library Road to the crossing of Colonel By Drive

Once across Colonel By push your bike up the ramp to the canal.

Stairs with ramp to push bike up to the canal locks

Getting across the canal requires carrying your bike up and down a couple of steps and pushing your bike over the locks.

Crossing the Hartwell Locks

Take the path perpendicular to the canal that leads to a service road which doubles as the start of the Experimental Farm Pathway.

Path perpendicular to the locks that takes you to the service road (take either the dirt path or the paved one these cyclists are using)
Start of the Experimental Farm Pathway along the service road

Now you will be following the Experimental Farm Pathway for quite a distance all the way to Woodroffe Avenue. It is mostly paths with some stretches along quiet roads with a wonderful mix of scenery. Fortunately the pathway is quite well signed.

Sections of the Experimental Farm Pathway between Prince of Wales Drive and Fisher Avenue

The only messy spot is the crossing at Fisher Avenue. Fisher is a busy street that requires lights to get across, but the crossing doesn’t allign with the path on the west side of the Fisher and the trail sign isn’t visible from the lights.

Experimental Farm Pathway continues a short distance north of the crossing at Fisher

There also isn’t a bike lane heading north to get you from the crossing to where the path continues. This forces one to take to the sidewalk or ride along the space between the sidewalk and oncoming bike lane.

View north along Fisher to where the Experimental Farm Pathway continues west

So, the Experimental Farm Pathway at Fisher is a bit of a mess, but once back on the path on the other side of Fisher things continue smoothly westwardly.

Experimental Farm Pathway between Fisher and Woodroffe Ave

The Experimental Farm Pathway ends at Woodroffe Avenue. There are lights to get you across this very busy street. On the other side of Woodroffe the Watts Creek Pathway continues just to the left of the fire station.

Arrow showing where Watts Creek Pathway begins across Woodroffe Ave beside the fire station. My panorama camera setting created those teeny-tiny cars.

The path dips down along the transit way. Take the exit off the pathway where the sign points to Baseline.

Exit off Watts Creek Pathway towards Baseline

This path then crosses the transitway then goes under Baseline Road. Things get a little tricky just south of Baseline where the path circles around an OC Transpo parking lot. Most cyclists don’t bother with this mini detour and just ride infront of the bus parking .

You will see the Algonquin Campus on the other side of Woodroffe. I continued along the path beside the transitway and crossed over to the campus at College Avenue.

Et voila!

Here is the alternative route that continues along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway at and crosses the river at Hogs Back versus at Bank Street.