I rode out to Ikea and Lee Valley to pick up some items for this summer’s production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, being performed by A Company of Fools. I designed the set. It opens next week and will be performed in parks around the city throughout the summer. Check out their show calendar to see when there is a performance in a park near you!
This bike route is an update to one originally posted in the summer of 2012. I followed the Ottawa River Pathway and the Pinecrest Creek Pathway as far as Iris Street on the way there, and then the Experimental Farm Pathway back. A lovely loop.
The overall route hasn’t changed much over the last ten years, however the ongoing construction of the LRT extension heading west along the SJAM Parkway, and then south along the transit way, has resulted in a dog’s breakfast of mini-detours along the Pinecrest Creek Pathway. The detours aren’t too drastic, just very zig-zaggy and choppy. I hope the bike infrastructure will be the same as before, or better, once all construction is completed. Until then, I anticipate this messy bit will remain for a couple of years to come.
Love these service pavilions at Westboro Beach, designed by architect James Strutt. They remind me of Don Quixote’s windmills. Check out other bike tours that visit buildings Strutt designed around the region by clicking here.
The Ottawa River Pathway isn’t being drastically affected by the construction. If you like construction sites, look left. If you like majestic rivers, look right.
This is the type of choppy detour you may expect to find along the Pinecrest Creek Pathway.
Heading back along the Experimental Farm Pathway, just east of Woodroffe Avenue, they are installing what seems to be a huge reservoir. Looking forward to see what becomes of that.
The original version of this route was posted in 2014. In the wake of the present invasion of Ukraine I have revisited and updated the route in the hopes that it may be used by those who wish to to pay tribute to the incredible resilience of the Ukranian people, and to help better understand the Ukranian community amongst us.
Canada is home to one of the largest number of persons of Ukrainian descent outside of Ukraine. Most reside in the western provinces, however many have chosen Ottawa as their home. This bike tour visits edifices around town representing the Ukrainian diaspora within Canada’s capital.
We begin our ride at the Ukrainian Embassy located at the corner of Somerset and O’Connor. Ukraine purchased this building at 310 Somerset St from the federal NDP party in 1994. It’s been their embassy ever since.
Our next stop is just a few blocks south east. On December 2nd, 1991 Canada recognized Ukraine’s independence. Suddenly in need of an embassy, this building on Metcalfe St was purchased with the help of funds gathered by Ukrainian-Canadians. This location has served as a consular building ever since the embassy moved to its present location.
Next stop – the Saint John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Shrine near the corner of Heron Road and Prince of Wales Drive. To get there I rode south along the O’Connor bike lane before turning left on Fifth Ave and crossing the canal over the Flora Foot Bridge. I then rode along the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway all the way up to where Heron Road crosses overhead. I accessed Heron by pushing my bike up the mini bike ramp along the edge of the stairs.
There is a bike lane along Heron Road. Just over the bridge I took this well trodden path righ that leads to the back of the church.
The statue on the edge of the parking lot is a monument to Taras Shevchenko (1841-1861), artist and national hero for his promotion of Ukrainian independence.
Next destination is the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral at 1000 Byron Avenue. To get there I cut through the Experimental Farm, along Island Park Drive, then west along Byron. There is serious disruptive construction for the new LRT extension along Byron, thus the slight detour as one approaches our final stop. The Cathedral opened in 1978. More on it’s history can be found here.
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. 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 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.
Ride under the Corkstown pedestrian/bike bridge, then circle up and over the bridge to get to the other side of the canal.
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.
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.
Someone requested a bike route from Hintonburg to Windsor Park where they will be tonight on Saturday, August 17th.
Here is a map showing the route with a description below.
Starting from the corner of Fairmount St and Wellington St West, head south along Fairmount as far as Sherwood Drive, passing under the Queensway along the way.
Turn left onto Sherwood Drive and continue along until it ends at Carling Avenue.
Cross Carling at the lights and ride through Queen Julliana Park to Prince of Wales Drive.
Cross Prince of Wales Drive at the pedestrian lights just west of where the bike path ends and head into the Arboretum. Ignore the sign on the gate that says it’s closed. The sign has been there for ages and I have no idea why it’s there – the Arboretum is open to the public all year round.
The paths through the Arboretum are a combination of paved and stone dust surfacing.
You will eventually reach the Rideau Canal. Ride along until you reach the Hartwell Locks. Push your bike over the last set of locks. The Fools will be playing at this location on July the 10th.
Cross Colonel By Drive into the Carleton University campus, and cut through the campus as per the above map to the pedestrian crossing at Bronson Avenue. At one stage you will be dipping under the O-Train tracks.
Once across Bronson, continue along the path through Brewer Park to Cameron Avenue. Cameron is a quiet one way heading easy but it has a bike lane heading west so it’s safe to ride along it on the way back.
Before reaching Bank Street turn right onto Wendover Avenue which merges into Warrington Drive that runs along the edge of the Rideau River. At the end of Warrington one can access the Rideau River Pathway that continues along the river.
The path goes under Bank Street and continues on merrily along the river. Windsor Park is a short distance further along this path. There is no sign off the bike path identifying the park but you will have no problem noticing the stage.
Enjoy the show !
For a complete list of the parks that The Company of Fools will be performing throughout the summer, including maps, click here. If anyone needs a bike route to get there, send me a starting point and the park you want to go to and I’ll figure out a route for you.
Strathcona Park is a picturesque tract of greenery that runs along the west bank of the Rideau River at the eastern edge of the Sandy Hill neighbourhood. One can meander along a network of paths, past big old trees and features like the Strathcona Fountain sculpted by Mathurin Moreau , donated by Lord Strathcona in 1909, or the unique play ground structure designed by artist Stephen Brathwaite that incorporates carved blocks of stone recovered from prominent Ottawa heritage buildings.
Strathcona Park is also the staging ground for professional theatre throughout the summer! Odyssey Theatre has been performing Italian commedia inspired productions there since 1985. This is the opening weekend of their production Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia.
UPDATE- September 2018: Another fine season of theatre has come and gone, but fear not! Next summer promises to once again be the staging grounds of more wonderful productions by Odyssey Theatre and A Company of Fools!
With the 2015 opening of the Adawe Bridge over the Rideau River, Strathcona Park became much more accessible to cyclists from points east. This route explores how to get there from the west, starting in Centretown. The purple line is an alternative deviation on the return trip to avoid having to ride amongst traffic on Laurier, as the west bound segregated bike lane only starts at Elgin. If anyone needs a different bike route to get to Strathcona Park let me know & I’ll figure it out.
We begin our journey at the western end of the Laurier bike lane at the intersection of Laurier & Bronson.
Head all the way east along the Laurier Bike Lane to where the path passes infront of City Hall after crossing Elgin Street. Just before Laurier heads over the canal, turn onto the sidewalk along the exit to Queen Elizabeth Driveway. Just a few feet along the sidewalk it becomes bi-directional shared pathway.
Cross Queen Elizabeth Driveway at the 4 way stop and head south along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway.
Not too far along you will see the Corktown pedestrian/bike bridge to your left heading over the canal. Cross it.
Continue down to the signalised crossing at Colonel By Drive and ride under the transitway and up along the winding path to the Ottawa U campus.
Ride straight ahead along Marie Curie Private and across King Edward Avenue at the lights. Head straight on down the hill along Somerset St East. Bike lanes appear a couple of blocks past King Edward that lead all the way to Strathcona Park.
Odyssey Theatre’s performances are at the northern end of the park, while The Fools set up a little closer to Somerset, as indicated on the above map. I’ve also spotted the location of the Strathcona fountain and the Brathwaite play structure on the map.
A Company of Fools is Ottawa’s longest running professional Shakespeare Company. This summer they will be performing Twelfth Night in parks Throughout the region. On June 30th the show previews in Lynwood Park located in Bells Corners. Hannah is considering biking there from her neighbourhood in Bel-Air Heights so here’s a bike route that is almost entirely along multi-use paths! (UPDATE – Fall 2018 : The Twelfth Night tour is over, however this route continues to serve as a convenient connection from Bells Corners to areas further east!)
Our journey begins at the intersection of Iris & Navaho. I headed a short distance along Iris Street to where it crosses the Experimental Farm Pathway. That’s where I got onto the path and headed west.
The Experimental Farm Pathway ends at Woodroffe however there are traffic lights to get across the street to where the Pinecrest Creek Pathway begins on the other side, just beside the fire station.
The path curves down hill, at the bottom of which I took the exit that heads across the Transitway.
After curling up and under Baseline Road the official path circles around a bus parking lot, however most continue straight to avoid this detour.
The path continues parallel to Woodroffe, then veers west just before reaching the Legacy Skatepark. It then continues westwardly, twice crossing Centrepoint Drive.
The path dips under the train tracks and ends a bit further at Craig Henry Drive.
Craig Henry Drive has a painted shoulder but it is not signed as a bike lane so there is a chance you may have to bike around the odd parked car. I followed Craig Henry Drive all the way to Greenbank Road.
On the opposite side of Greenbank I continued along Canfield Road for a short distance before hopping onto another path. Canfield Road is a residential street however some drivers do speed along this stretch of road. For those wishing to avoid riding along Craig Henry Drive and Canfield Road I have indicated an alternative route on the map in orange.
To access the path off Canfield I took the closest cut in the curb which is a few yards away from the path, infront of some communal mailboxes.
This section of path weaves it’s way through a wooded area before crossing McClellan Road, and then follows power lines all the way to Bruce Pit.
Once arrived at Bruce Pit I turned right and followed the packed stone dust path that circles the Pit.
The path around Bruce Pit is quite lovely. There’s a fence along one side as the centre of Bruce Pit is a huge dog park.
I crossed Cedarview Road on the west side of Bruce Pit and then rode along the bridge, that has bike lanes, over the 416 highway.
Once on the other side of the 416 I cut through to the northwest corner of Bell High School campus. Just beyond the black chain link fence there is a short path off to the right that I followed down to Stinson Avenue.
Stinson Ave is a quiet residential street, as are Delta St, Evergreen Dr and Ridgefield Crescent which I followed all the way to our final destination, Lynwood Park. If you are a fan of mid-century modern houses there are lots of well preserved examples in this part of Bells Corners.
Here’s a bit of Lynwood Park.
And finally, a taste of what the set will look like in the park.
If anyone is looking for a bike route to any of the parks where Twelfth Night will be staged, feel free to send me a starting point and I will try to post a route. Here is a link to the schedule of parks and performances throughout the summer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once arrived we were treated to a great tour of the house by Titania and Brian of the Strutt Foundation.
A great ride to a fantastic destination. Can’t get better than that.
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.
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.
I managed to check out the interior of the building during this years Doors Open event.
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.
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.