Visiting the Strutt House by Bike, Take II !

James Strutt was a Canadian Modernist architect who designed many innovative buldings throughout the National Capital Region. In 1956 he designed and built his family home along Chemin de la Montagne on the western edge of Gatineau Park. Lauded for it’s ingenious use of modular components and the introduction of hyperbolic paraboloids to form the ceiling and roof, the house has won a number of accolades such as the Prix du vingtième siècle by the Royal Architectural Institue of Canada. In the summer of 2015 I visited the The Strutt House for the first time. Little did I know it had just been saved from demolition. The National Capital Commission and the Strutt Foundation, an incredibly dedicated and passionate group of volunteers, had only recently come to an agreement to rehabilitate and preserve this very important modern piece of architecture after it had been vacant for a number of years and fallen into disrepair . The Strutt House has been included in the NCC Confederation Pavillions program and  opened to visitors in time for Canada’s 150th birthday celebration. As part of this program you can book a tour of the house with the Strutt Foundation, which I highly recommend.

The following is an update to the initial 2015 ride and includes a vastly improved approach to the site that avoids having to travel along Notch Road and Chemin de la Montagne.

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Early Saturday morning four of us met up on the Quebec side of the Portage Bridge where we set out on our adventure. We followed multi-use-paths along the Ottawa River before cutting up along more paths through the southern section of Gatineau Park.

Multi-Use Path heading up through Gatineau Park
Multi-Use Path heading up through Gatineau Park

Once arrived at the park info kiosk, indicated by the red marker on the above map, we rode along the Gatineau Parkway, which is always in great condition because they close the Parkway in late Fall every year. Subsequently the Parkway doesn’t have to be plowed and salted  which, along with the freezing and thawing cycles throughout the winter, wreak havoc on all our other roads. On Saturday mornings there are lots and lots of cyclists riding along the Parkway so drivers tend to be quite well behaved.

Great road surface along the Gatineau Parkway

 

After a healthy climb up past the Pink Lake lookout and beyond we arrived at the top of the Notch Road overpass. There’s a short dirt path off to the right just before the overpass that we followed down to access Notch Road.

Path from the Gatineau Parkway down to Notch Road
Path from the Gatineau Parkway …. to Notch Road

Notch Road is a steep narrow incline down to Chemin de la Montagne, however a short distance down from the Parkway there is a an old dirt road with a wide enough opening to push our bikes past the gate.

Turn onto old dirt road off of Notch Road

We rode through the woods along the dirt road until we came to a more recently upgraded section of dirt road that veered off to the left down towards the Strutt House.

Left turn down dirt road to the Strutt House

Once arrived we were treated to a great tour of the house by Titania and Brian of the Strutt Foundation.

The Strutt House

A great ride to a fantastic destination. Can’t get better than that.

Architects on Bikes Checking Out Buildings: Episode 3 – Mark Glassford

Architects on Bikes Checking Out Buildings is a series whereby I invite an architect to suggest a few buildings they admire in the region, then we ride around and check them out! I am very grateful to Mark Glassford for generously accepting my invitation. Joining us was another architect Susan Smith.

Our first building and starting point was the SITE building designed by Ronald Keenberg, located on the southernmost point of the University of Ottawa main campus. It is a located in a tight and unconventional foot print, whose design sympathetically considers all varied approaches, perspectives and vistas. These images are from King Edward Avenue near the main entrance, the approach most accessible by bike.

SITE as seen from King Edward Ave & Mann Ave
SITE entrance on King Edward Ave

We headed to the lights across King Edward Ave to Templeton, and then wove our way along quiet streets through Sandy Hill and Lowertown to get to the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, headquarters of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada on Sussex Drive, designed by Fumihiko Maki.

headquarters of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada on Sussex Drive

I managed to check out the interior of the building during this years Doors Open event.

Interior views

We then took the bike path along the MacDonald Cartier Bridge over the Ottawa River to Gatineau, then followed the Voyageurs Pathway east. Once across the Lady Aberdeen Bridge over the Gatineau River we turned right along the path that runs between Rue Jacques Cartier and the waters edge, along which there are multiple opportunities to pause and take in some great views of the Ottawa River.

One of many rest stops along Rue Jacques Cartier

At the northern tip of Rue Jacques Cartier we headed inland and rode along the bike path beside Montée Paiement, which brought us to our third stop, The Library and Archives Canada Preservation Centre. Also designed by architect Ronald Keenberg, this is an incredible climate controlled facility. There is a bike path that rings the building allowing one to admire it from multiple perspectives.

Et voila!

Tracking down the Nepean Bell – A Time Travel Tour by Bike!

Cast iron bells can become unifying symbols for a community. Their distinct clarion call draws together those within earshot towards a shared experience. The Nepean Bell became such a symbol when it was first hung and rung back in 1896 from the old town hall in Westboro. As the seat of government of Nepean Township moved south-west, then east, the bell went with it. This bike tour visits the three locations the Nepean Bell has occupied since its arrival in our region. It is also a ride along a number of wonderful bike paths in the western end of town through varied terrain. The purple line is a return shortcut to get to the starting point.

Our tour begins in front of the old Town Hall building in Westboro located at 345 Richmond Road where the Nepean Bell began its public life. The building was designed by architect Moses Chamberlain Edey and opened in 1896 as the Town Hall building for the Township of Nepean.

Old Town Hall in Westboro. Note the empty bell tower.

The eastern portion of Nepean Township was annexed by the city of Ottawa in 1950, however the old town hall continued to serve as Nepean Township’s headquarters until 1966. Once the construction of new headquarters were completed further west in Bells Corners the township authorities took the beloved bell with them. There they installed the bell on the front lawn in a sculpted tripod base. Each leg was a different height, meant to represent a member of the traditional nuclear family, i.e. mother, father and child. The image of this sculpture became the logo for the City of Nepean until The Great Ottawa Amalgamation of 2001. The logo is still evident on street signs, park signs, etc throughout the former city of Nepean. Note – the name Bells Corners far predates the arrival of the Nepean Bell.

logo
City of Nepean logo

To get to the Nepean Bell’s second home at the intersection of Old Richmond Road and Robertson Road in Bells Corners I headed over to the path that runs along the south side of the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway and followed it as far as the intersection that passes under the parkway and onto the Ottawa River Pathway.

Path along Sir John A. MacDonald Driveway…. and underpass to get to the Ottawa River Pathway.

I followed the Ottawa River Pathway all the way to Britannia Bay. There I crossed Carling at the lights and got on to the Watts Creek Pathway. Where Watts Creek Pathway crosses Holly Acres Road is a bit tricky, as the path continues a short ways up quiet Aero Drive. This link is barely visible from Holly Acres Road.

White arrow shows where Watts Creek Pathway pathway continues a short way Aero Drive, as seen from Holly Acres Road

Watts Creek Pathway meanders through a wooded area before crossing Corkstown Road. Once across Corkstown Road the path follows a new paved section that goes along the edge of some baseball fields to get to lights across Moodie Drive. This new section of path is a great improvement on the previously poorly maintained path that was regularly flooded.

Section of Watts Creek Pathway from Corkstown to Moodie

I continued along Watts Creek Pathway for a spell before turning on to the Greenbelt Pathway West. The Greenbelt Pathway is a packed gravel surface that rolls through a wonderful assortment of woods and fields before and after it crosses Corkstown Road and goes under the Queensway.

Greenbelt Pathway just south of the Queensway
Greenbelt Pathway meandering through cedars

The Greenbelt Pathway West meets up with the Trans-Canada Trail which I followed to Fitzgerald Road. I turned right onto Fitzgerald, then left on to Robertson Road at the lights. Robertson Road is a busy street with lots of traffic. It also has a bike lane between Fitzgerald and Moodie Drive.

Bike lane along Robertson Road

I turned right onto Moodie which also has a bike lane that goes only as far as Hadley Crescent. I rode along Hadley Crescent, then Tanglewood Drive, then Old Richmond Road to get to the second stop of the Nepean Bell at the corner of Robertson Road and Richmond Road. The building which was built to serve as the township headquarters in 1966 only lasted until 1988 when it was demolished and replaced it with a mini-mall.They had already moved to the Nepean City Hall at 101 Centrepointe Drive.

Second stop of the Nepean Bell – 3825 Old Richmond Rd

I then wove my way through residential streets of the Lyndwood Village neighbourhood, which has a fine selection of mid-century-modern home designs.

Lovely Lyndwood Village

This brought me to Bruin Road beside Bell High School. Bruin Road gets you over highway 416 to the Bruce Pit. I took the path around the northern perimeter of Bruce Pit.

Path around Bruce Pit

Next I dipsy-do’d along a combination of paths and residential streets to get to the bike path that cuts diagonally along a hydro pole right-of-way to Centrepoint Drive.

Centrepoint Pathway

Once arrived at Centrepoint Drive, I rode around to the front of the old Nepean city hall to discover the Nepean Bell installed in the middle of a mini round-a-bout. I gave it a ring and it sounded great!

Nepean Bell resting place

Et voila!

Biking from Sandy Hill to the Byward Market

Dave was asking about a route to access the Byward Market from the eastern edge of Sandy Hill. The Market is a challenge to get to by bike from the east and south due to the flow of heavy crosstown traffic coming off the Queensway down Nicholas Street, Rideau Street and King Edward Avenue, heading towards the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge. This includes a steady flow of transport trucks. Streets that traverse this heavy traffic artery leading into the market are less than stellar for cyclists. There are plans to introduce a safer pedestrian access along Nicholas Street between Besserer and Rideau Street. How this pans out in providing a safe access route for cyclists into the market remains to be seen. Until then, the safest approach into the heart of the market is from the north. Here’s the route I followed starting from the eastern end of Wilbrod Street in Sandy Hill.

Red line on the map is the route I followed to get to the market. Turquoise lines are slight deviations taken on the way back.

There’s a small patio beside the apartment building at the end of Wilbrod that provides a great view of the Cummings Bridge and Cummings Island in the Rideau River. Carriages once rode over a previous wooden incarnation of the bridge. It went to the island on which there was a grocery store run by the Cummings family.

Cummings Bridge and Island
Cummings Bridge and Island as seen from the end of Wilbrod St

Wilbrod becomes a one way heading east on the opposite side of Charlotte Street, so I rode one block north along Charlotte to get to Stewart Street. Vehicules heading down this stretch of Charlotte tend to speed as they rush from Laurier to Rideau Street, so I waited for a generous gap in traffic. Fortunately it’s a short block.

Stewart is a quiet one way heading west, with a bike lane!

Stewart Street
Stewart Street

I then turned north on Chapel Street which led to traffic lights across Rideau Street. Chapel dead-ends just before reaching Beausoleil Drive, except for bicycles.

North end of Chapel St
North end of Chapel St

I turned left onto Beausoleil, which makes a big curve before ending at traffic lights that help get across busy St Patrick Street. There’s an opening in the fence on the other side of the intersection that provides cyclists access to St Andrew Street.

Access to St Andrew St across the intersection at St Patrick & Beausoleil
Access to St Andrew St across the intersection at St Patrick & Beausoleil

St Andrew is a quiet residential street that curls west to a traffic light with a bike lane that gets you across King Edward Avenue. On the opposite side of King Edward only cyclists and pedestrians can access St Andrew at this point, which continues westwardly.

Lights at St Andrew St across King Edward Ave
Lights at St Andrew St across King Edward Ave

Traffic along St Andrew remains calm, thanks to a few ‘No Enter-Bicycles Excepted’ signs along the way to Parent Avenue. I then turned south on Parent, a relatively calm street, that brought me to the south end of the parking garage, one block away from the centre of the market.

Travelling south on Parent Ave
Travelling south on Parent Ave

There are hanging bike racks on the north exterior wall of the parking garage that are accessible throughout the year. There are also some seasonal racks along the sidewalk, as well as racks just inside the entrance to the garage.

Sidewalk, wall mounted,  & garage bike racks
Sidewalk, wall mounted, & garage bike racks

On the way back I headed east on Guiges Avenue to Cumberland St, as St Andrew is one way heading east for a few blocks.

Biking east along quiet Guiges Ave
Biking east along quiet Guiges Ave

Similarly Stewart St is one way heading west, so I rode along Wilbrod back to our starting point.

Heading east on the bike lane along Wilbrod
Heading east on the bike lane along Wilbrod

Et voila!

When I head to the market from the west side of town, I usually go along the path below Parliament Hill, or along the path in Gatineau and cross back over the Alexandra Bridge as described in this post. Alternatively, because this requires riding along the section of Murray Street between Mackenzie and Parent which can get pretty frantic with traffic rushing over the bridge, I often prefer riding up through Major’s Hill Park and locking my bike to the fence at the top of the stairs that lead down to the market, as described in this post.

Biking to the Sugar Shack in Vanier from Centretown

There’s a sugar shack in Ottawa, thanks to a group of intrepid monks who preserved and tapped the many trees found within Vanier’s Richelieu Park, once the property of their monastic order. The Brothers left in the 1970’s but maple syrup continues to be prepared on site each Spring. The sugar shack is open to the public on weekends throughout the months of March and April. It’s so close to Centretown you can easily bike there. So I did. The blue line on the map below is the route I rode, purple lines are slight alterations I took on the way back.

Our adventure begins at the western most point of the Laurier Bike Lane where Laurier crosses Bronson.

Laurier Bike Lane in the Spring
Laurier Bike Lane in the Spring

I followed the bike lane all the way downtown to City Hall. There I turned right on to the plaza and followed the path on the west side of City Hall through to Cartier St.

Path to the right of City Hall plaza through to Cartier St
Path to the right of City Hall plaza through to Cartier St

I followed Cartier St for a block, then turned left onto one-way Cooper St, and continued along until Somerset St. Immediately left on Somerset there’s a traffic light across Queen Elizabeth Drive to the pedestrian/bike bridge over the Rideau Canal.

View from the bridge through love locks down the melting Rideau Canal
View from the bridge through love locks down the melting Rideau Canal

Another signalized crosswalk at Colonel By Drive led me to the bike lanes under Nicholas St and up to the University of Ottawa campus.

Tunnel under Nicholas through to Ottawa U campus
Tunnel under Nicholas through to Ottawa U campus

The first street on the left through the campus has a contra-flow bike lane combined with painted sharrow markings pointing in the direction of traffic, which directed me along a network of quiet streets northwardly through campus.

Ottawa U bike route through campus
Ottawa U bike route through campus

I turned left on to University Private abandoning the lane+sharrow combo, and then turned right on Cumberland St. There’s a bike lane to follow along Cumberland once across the signalized Laurier Ave E intersection. I then turned right on to the bike lane along Wilbrod St, that heads east through Sandy Hill.

Left on Cobourg then right on Daly brought me to the intersection at Charlotte and Daly. Unfortunately there isn’t a cross signal to get across Charlotte, which can get busy as it’s a popular link between Rideau Street to get to Laurier Avenue. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long for a opening to get across.

Straight through on Daly, left on Wurtemburg St then right on Besserer which brought me to a very nice recently introduced winding paved path through Besserer Park down to the Cummings Bridge.

Path through Besserer Park
Path through Besserer Park

Heading east across the bridge over the Rideau River, there are painted sharrows in green boxes along the inside lane. Traffic moves very fast across this bridge. Along busy traffic arteries such as this one, no matter how you dress them up, sharrows are the most useless form of bike accommodation imaginable. Worse than useless, they are dangerous, because they falsely suggest to riders that they are designated safe routes when drivers ignore them because they can. I walked my bike along the sidewalk.

'Splat'
Heading east over Cummings Bridge

Once arrived on the other side of the bridge I crossed at the intersection and headed north along North River Road.

Turned right onto Coupal where, at it’s eastern extremity, there is a short path to the Vanier Parkway. A few more yards along the sidewalk brings you to a crosswalk.

Short path at the end of Coupal.....& bit of sidewalk to lights across the Vanier Parkway
Short path at the end of Coupal…..& bit of sidewalk to lights across the Vanier Parkway

I then wove my way along calm streets through Vanier, as per the above map, to Pères-Blancs Avenue that leads up towards Richelieu Park.

Pères Blancs Avenue
Pères Blancs Avenue

A short distance inside the old gates to the park there is a path to the left that leads to the sugar shack.

Path off Pères Blancs Avenue towards the sugar shack
Path off Pères Blancs Avenue towards the sugar shack

This season I rode there on a quiet holiday Monday morning when the shack was closed, however in previous years I’ve visited on weekends when it is open to the public and the boilers are in full operation.

Sugar Shack
Sugar Shack

On the way back I re-traced my treads as far as Cummings Bridge. There is a bike lane heading west over this busy pont, however the lane marking is completely worn off at the eastern end of the bridge and barely visible the rest of the way across.

Missing bike lane heading west over the Cummings Bridge
Missing bike lane heading west over the Cummings Bridge

The bike lane disappears completely once arrived on the other side of the bridge. That’s because Rideau St was paved late last season and the line has yet to be re-painted. Until then I recommend returning the same way I came by walking along the opposite side walk and riding up the nice new path to Besserer St. Once the westward bike lane is re-painted, there’s a nice new path link on the south side of Rideau St across the intersection that links to Wurtemburg St, like so.

Path linking Rideau St to Wurtemberg
Path linking Rideau St to Wurtemberg

Stewart St is a one way with a bike lane heading west through Sandy Hill with a number of old architectural gems like this.

Philomene Terrace constructed in 1874
Philomene Terrace constructed in 1874

I turned left on Cumberland and wove my way through back the Ottawa U campus. On the west side of the pedestrian bridge I turned right on to the Rideau Canal Western Pathway and cut through Confederation Park to get to the Laurier Bike Lane.

Et voila!

Maples being tapped around the sugar shack
Maples being tapped around the sugar shack

Bike commute from the Ottawa Youth Hostel to the corner of Rochester and Poplar

Brendan was enquiring about a bike route from the Ottawa Youth Hostel to the intersection of Rochester and Poplar Streets. Here’s what I came up with.

The Ottawa Youth Hostel is pretty fantastic. It lives in the 150+ year old Carleton County gaol right downtown. Unfortunately it is located on an island with all forms of speeding vehicles circling around it including transport trucks.

Ottawa Youth Hostel
Ottawa Youth Hostel

So, first challenge is how to ingress/egress from this hive of aggressive traffic. After exploring all options, I decided to take the set of stairs up to the Mackenzie St Bridge, located right beside the hostel parking (hélas, this route doesn’t work so well for those with trailers or loaded panniers).

Stairs up to Mackenzie King Bridge
Stairs up to Mackenzie King Bridge

Having carried my bike up the flight of stairs, I headed west over the bridge along the sidewalk to the signalized crosswalk. There are bike lanes along the Mackenzie King bridge but they hug the centre meridian. Half way across the signalized crossing one may choose to get on the bike lane heading west, as suggested by the orange line on the above map, but the lane disappears once arrived at Elgin, a busy 6 lane street with speedy traffic and no bike lanes – enough to discourage many an intrepid pedalist.

Bike lane heading west on Mackenzie Bridge along the centre meridian..... that splits away approaching Elgin..... then suddenly ends at Elgin.
Bike lane on Mackenzie Bridge….. approaching Elgin….. then ends at Elgin.

A safer option I followed was to walk across the aforementioned signalized crossing (back to the blue line on the above map), and continue west along the sidewalk on the other side towards the stairs that go down to Confederation park.

Stairs from Mackenzie Bridge town to Confederation Park
Stairs from Mackenzie Bridge town to Confederation Park

Once arrived at the bottom of the stairs, I rode diagonally through the park to the corner of Laurier and Elgin.

Confederation Park in the Spring
Confederation Park in the Spring

The wonderful segregated Laurier Bike Lane begins on the west side of Elgin.

Laurier Bike Lane
Laurier Bike Lane

I followed Laurier to the end where it veers south and becomes quiet Cambridge St. I then turned west on Primrose, and south on Arthur along which there is a traffic light to get across busy Somerset St.

South of Somerset is a web of one-way and two-way streets that require a bit of navigating to arrive at the intersection of Poplar & Rochester, as per the above map.

Poplar and Rochester
Poplar and Rochester

Heading back downtown I followed the same route, apart from the few deviations in purple. The short stretches of Rochester, Booth and Somerset on the way back can get pretty busy especially around rush hour, so walking these may be preferable.

Et voila!

Citizens for Safe Cycling 4th Annual Family Winter Cycling Parade : The Route

The Fourth Annual Citizens for Safe Cycling Family Winter Parade takes place on Sunday, January 25th starting at 11am. This year’s route follows a 4km elongated east-west loop through Centretown, beginning and ending at the south entrance to City Hall. Here’s how it goes.

Ottawa City Hall south entrance
Ottawa City Hall south entrance

Riders will head south on Cartier Street for a short block before turning left onto Cooper Street. Cooper is a one way that curves south just before it reaches Queen Elizabeth Drive and becomes The Driveway. There’s a stop sign where The Driveway meets Somerset Street. Traffic on Somerset doesn’t have a stop, so crossing Somerset requires a gap in traffic. I’ve hi-lited on the map where this occurs at other intersections along the route. Gaps in traffic were frequent and generous at all intersections on the two wintry Sunday mornings I tested out the route at 11am.

Just beyond Somerset the route veers right on to MacLaren Street. MacLaren is a calm one way heading west through Centretown.

MacLaren Street
MacLaren Street

There is a potpourri of interesting architectural styles to be seen along MacLaren, like this well preserved home built for lumber baron JR Booth in 1909 at the corner of Metcalfe & MacLaren.

Booth residence
Booth residence

Or this assortment of styles from various decades throughout the history of Centretown.

Architecture along MacLaren St
Architecture along MacLaren St

The parade will then turn north onto Bay Street beside Dundonald Park. There is a bike lane along Bay Street that unfortunately isn’t cleared in the winter, but it is a quiet street on Sunday mornings in January.

Bay Street
Bay Street

The tour will then turn right onto the Laurier Street Bike Lane which IS cleared and salted throughout the winter.

Laurier Bike Lane
Laurier Bike Lane

After crossing Elgin Street the parade will turn onto the plaza on the north side of City Hall.

North side of City Hall
North side of City Hall

Riders will then follow the short path on the west side of City Hall to complete the loop.

Path beside City Hall
Path beside City Hall
FINISH/ARRIVÉE
FINISH/ARRIVÉE

POST EVENT UPDATE: It was a big success! Around 50 riders showed up. A thorough description of the event can be found on the Citizens For Safe Cycling website by clicking here.

The 4th Annual Winter Bike Parade! - Photo : Hans Moor
The 4th Annual Winter Bike Parade! (Photo : Hans Moor)