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)

Multi-use path along the new extension of Preston Street : A winter bike access to the Canadian War Museum

UPDATE 2017 – This extension is now out of commission as it was only temporary until the Booth Street Bridge was completed. Unfortunately the Booth Strret Bridge has awful bike infrastructure. Promises have been made to improve them.

Preston Street has been extended between Albert Street and the Sir John A Macdonald (SJAM) Parkway. That’s because Booth Street north of Albert will be closed for two years while they build the Light Rail Transit. The new extension of Preston includes a multi-use path which will provide winter bike access to the Canadian War Museum. This is an improvement as the section of Booth it is replacing was treacherous to ride along even in the best of snowless conditions. Because this shared pathway also provides pedestrian access to bus stops along it’s length, I am confident it will be cleared all winter (to be confirmed after the next big snowfall). Today I went and tried it out. Blue line is my ride there, orange line is the way I should have gone to get to the start of the extension, and purple line is the way I rode back to access the Laurier Bike Lane.

I approached from the south along Preston starting at Primrose Avenue. I chose Preston because Albert is very dangerous to cross or ride along and there are traffic lights where Preston and Albert intersect. Preston has always been a busy street and promises to become more so now that it is a main north/south artery towards the Chaudière Bridge over to Gatineau. Apart from the new extension, there are no bike lanes along the length of Preston, which in the winter becomes even narrower with the snow, so I took to the sidewalk for the block between Primrose and Albert. In retrospect I should have taken the cleared O-train path under Albert and accessed the sidewalk on the north side of Albert, as suggested by the orange line on the above map. There’s a short section of sidewalk to follow heading east before it joins the path that runs along the north side of Albert.

Preston between Primrose and Albert
Preston between Primrose and Albert
Preston at the start of the new extension
The new extension and multi-use path begins on the north side of Albert.
Weaving behind the bus stops
The paths weave behind bus shelters located along the path.
Section of path parallel to the road
Where it runs adjacent to the road, the path is separated from the traffic with low concrete curbing and attached fiberglass tabs

Getting across the SJAM Parkway intersection to the museum first requires crossing to the west side of Preston. The SJAM consists of multiple lanes of speeding traffic, and Preston has a large merging turn on to SJAM. This creates the type of intersection where drivers anxiously rush the light as they transition from one busy street to the other. I had to make eye contact with a driver before he halted suddenly and let me cross, even though there are multiple no-right-on-red signs.

Crossing the intersection at Preston and SJAM Parkway
Crossing the intersection at Preston and SJAM Parkway

Once arrived safely on the other side of SJAM I rode along the quiet service road to the entrance to the museum.

Entrance to the Canadian War Museum
Entrance to the Canadian War Museum

On my return trip, after taking the new path back to Preston and Albert, I continued east along the path on the north side of Albert. It ends at the corner of Commissioners St and Albert. Plans are afoot to introduce multi-use path links between Albert and the Laurier Bike Lane, as described here. Until such time the best way to get to the Laurier Bike Lane is to push your bike up the side walk on the west side of Bronson. Unless traffic is very light, I suggest taking to the sidewalk not only because it’s a steep little hill up to Laurier, but cars really roar around the corner and up the hill, often clipping the edge of the sidewalk at the corner of Slater and Bronson.

Well worn corner of Bronson & Slater
Well worn corner of Bronson & Slater

Et voila!

Crossing the new Airport Parkway Bridge !

The much anticipated Airport Parkway Bridge officially opened on Saturday, creating a safe pedestrian and cycling link between communities on either side of the busy parkway. It also now provides cyclists easy access to the Sawmill Creek Pathway and a fine bike commute towards downtown.

The blue line on the map below is the route my friend Peter and I followed to get to the bridge starting from the Arboretum. It includes a recently added stretch along the Sawmill Creek Pathway, described in more detail here. Green line is how we got back. The red bit is the bridge.

Approaching the bridge along the Sawmill Creek Pathway
Approaching the bridge along the Sawmill Creek Pathway

Here’s a video of what it’s like heading east over the bridge.

A Second Tour of Insulbrick Covered Homes Around Ottawa & Gatineau

After posting the first OttawaVeloOutaouais tour of local Insulbrick covered homes I discovered a few more examples throughout the region, so here is a follow up tour for those of us with a soft spot for this mid-century faux-wunder-cladding.

N.b. – Insulbrick has become a popular generic term to describe the tar impregnated exterior covering first patented in 1932 as Inselbrick and includes Inselstone, Inselwood and a few other imitations. Lots more on Insulbrick to be found on links at the bottom of this post.

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First stop – 187 Rochester, where you’ll find this interesting multicoloured extended brick pattern. Note the top portion is covered with fiberglass siding. Because Insulbrick is flat, stable, and easy to nail through, much of it has been covered up with whatever subsequent siding was fashionable. I’m guessing there is a lot of Insulbrick covered up in this manner all over the region. UPDATE March 2021 – The Insulbrick has been ripped off and the whole exterior is undergoing a big reno.

187 Rochester St
187 Rochester St

Carla and I rode south on Rochester St towards our next stop at 28 Breezehill South, which could very easily be mistaken for a brick house, but it’s Insulbrick! The clearest  indication is how the pattern does not reproduce the 2 to 1 overlapping stacked brick pattern on the corner where the walls meet. Ivy helps. Very clever.

283 Breezehill South
283 Breezehill South

The next two stops are located on the Gatineau side of the river. To get there we rode along the O-Train path to the Ottawa River Pathway, then along the path over the Portage Bridge. This example is located along Rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville at the corner of Rue Helene-Duval. The Insulbrick was applied to the side of the building only. The original brick structure pre-dates the invention of Insulbrick which, in this case, is really showing it’s age.

Rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville
Rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville

We wove our way eastwardly along paths and quiet roads to get to 289 Rue de Notre-Dame-de-l’Ile where we found another example of the red Inselbrick pattern. The owners are in the process of adding an addition at the back, It will be interesting to see whether they preserve the Insulbrick covering on the front, or cover it all with whatever siding they put on the back extension.

289 Rue de Notre-Dame-de-l’Ile
289 Rue de Notre-Dame-de-l’Ile

On our way back to Ottawa we rode along the boardwalk over the Alexandra Bridge. We then cut through Majors Hill Park where there’s a little known passageway at the end of the park that accesses the patio overlooking the canal and continues under Sappers Bridge beside the Chateau Laurier. It isn’t always open, so worst case scenario would require carrying ones bike up the stairs beside the Chateau BUT if you can access the passageway it’s worth it! It includes a couple of short flights of stairs that are equipped with bike ramps wide enough for your tires to push your bike along. My Grandmother used to describe riding the train into Ottawa along the canal and taking an elevator up to the Chateau Laurier lobby. I’m guessing this is where she would disembark.

Access to passage way under Sappers Bridge beside the Chateau Laurier
Access to passage way under Sappers Bridge beside the Chateau Laurier

Further south at the corner of Grenfield and Havelstock sits our next stop but it may not be there for long. At the time of our visit (April 2017) there was a plywood panel describing how the lot is up for zoning review with plans to build a new condo in its place. UPDATE – 2020 It’s gone, replaced with the condo.

IMG_7190
Corner of Greenfield Avenue and Havelock Street

Next it’s over the Pretoria bridge and along quiet streets to our following stop – 28 Florence St. Love it.

28 Florence St
28 Florence St

Florence turns into a one way heading east halfway between Bank and Kent. To get to James St which is one way heading west, we cut through the service alley behind the businesses that front on to Bank Street.

Alleyway between Florence & James St
Alleyway between Florence & James St

Our final destination is 642 MacLaren Street, and what a beauty it is! So well preserved, one has to take a really close look to see that it is in fact Insulbrick. As mentioned at the Breezehill stop, corners are where the truth is told. To hide how Insulbrick patterns don’t correspond to real brick at corner junctions, a corner strip is often applied, as was in this case.

IMG_7202
642 MacLaren

There are two other buildings located in Centretown that I didn’t include in this tour as it would have required some convoluted navigating to avoid biking down busy streets, however I have included photos. The first is this abandoned leaning house on Somerset between Lyon and Kent. Probably won’t be there for long as it and the lot it is sitting on is up for sale. UPDATE April 2017 – It’s been knocked down.

Leaning house of Somerset
Leaning house of Somerset

Another example is located two blocks north on Lisgar also between Lyon and Kent St. The Insulbrick was added to the front portion of an already existing building. It is really showing it’s age, especially in contrast to the original brick still visible on the back portion of the building.

Insulbrick on Lisgar
Insulbrick on Lisgar

Here are a few links to stories involving Insulbrick:

– A short history of Insulbrick (click)

– A stop along the Lincoln Highway where Insulbrick has been preserved to maintain it’s heritage feel (click)

– An example of Insulbrick being covered up with more contemporary siding. (click)

Signing off with this image of an Insulbrick home I passed on Concession Road 7 while riding to the Blue Skies Festival near Sharbot Lake.

Concession Rd 7

An Ottawa bike tour of designs by architect Francis Sullivan

A number of interesting buildings around town were designed by Francis Sullivan, an adherent/colleague/disciple of the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School of architecture. The following bike route visits a number of Sullivan’s surviving works within Ottawa. This ride is approximately 14km long.

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Our tour begins in Rockcliffe Park at 108 Acacia Avenue where sits this grand old house, one of Sullivan’s early designs upon his return from working with Frank Lloyd Wright in 1907. The Prairie School aesthetic is not as evident in the exterior detailing of this majestic home as they are in Sullivan’s subsequent designs.

108 Acacia Avenue
108 Acacia Avenue

Next stop – The Francis Sullivan House in Sandy Hill at 346 Somerset St E.

n 1911 Sullivan started up his own successful independent practice from which he designed this home for himself in 1914. Here the influence of the modernist Prairie School style is on full display.

Sullivan House - 346 Somerset Street E.
Sullivan House – 346 Somerset Street E.

To get to our next stop I rode up Somerset, through the Ottawa U campus, and over the pedestrian/bike bridge across the canal. I then pedaled along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway in the direction away from Parliament Hill as far as Patterson Creek, crossed Queen Elizabeth Drive and followed the creek to our next destination, the O’Connor St Bridge. Another example of his early works (1907), It’s a solid looking little bridge that has withstood the test of time.

O'Connor St Bridge
O’Connor St Bridge

A short distance up Patterson Creek at 6 Allan Place sits the following Sullivan house design.

6 Allan Place
6 Allan Place

Our next Sullivan building is located at the corner of James and Bay. To get there I rode over to Percy St which has traffic lights and a bike lane to help cyclists ride safely under the Queensway and across busy Chamberlain and Catherine Streets. I rode over to Bay St which is a one way heading north WITH a bike lane, that brought me right to the Patrick J. Powers House. It was originally built around 1887 but transformed by Sullivan in 1915 in to the beauty that it is now.

Patrick J. Powers House - 178 James Street
Patrick J. Powers House – 178 James Street

Over to Arthur St where once stood the No. 7 Fire Station which Sullivan designed in 1912. The exterior has been greatly modified since the mid-1960s when it was acquired by the Bukowinian Greek Orthodox Holy Trinity Church, as per a land and property transfer described in this Urbsite post. Only a few of Sullivan’s details remain, most notably the corners of the building. The rest have been smothered or altered.

No 7 Fire Station (drastically modified) - Arthur Street
No 7 Fire Station (drastically modified) – Arthur Street

The final two buildings are located on roads just off Wellington St, a busy street I consider to be one of Ottawa’s most dangerous stretches to ride down resulting in the constant threat of cyclists being doored or squeezed off the road by impatient drivers. The sharrows painted on the road (bike logos with two chevrons) are meaningless to most drivers and ignored. I avoided Wellington by following the route described on the above map, which includes carrying my bike down the stairs at the end of Primrose ave to the bottom of Nanny Goat cliff.

Next destination is École Sacré-Cœur at 19 Melrose Avenue in Hintonburg, which is no longer a school, but a residence, as one of the residents explained to me as I was taking the photo below.

École Sacré-Cœur - 19 Melrose Avenue
École Sacré-Cœur – 19 Melrose Avenue

Final stop – the Edward P. Connors House at 166 Huron Ave North. Some wonderful Prairie Style detailing and proportions to be seen in this example as well.

Edward P. Connors House - 166 Huron Ave N
Edward P. Connors House – 166 Huron Ave N

So there you have it. Thank you Francis Sullivan!

Biking to Blue Skies Music Festival from Ottawa – Route #2

The Blue Skies Music Festival near Clarendon, Ontario takes place on the first weekend of August, as it has every year since the early 70’s. It’s a great big gathering where folks come for a day, or camp out over the 3 day long weekend.

This year was the third time I’ve been. Last year I biked to a friend’s cottage close by on Sharbot Lake, then rode up to the site on the following Friday morning. You can read all about that adventure here. This year I did the same, however I chose a different route, identified by the blue line on the map below.

I rode back to Ottawa on the following Monday along the red line shown on the map, similar to the route my friend François rode to get there this year, which you can read about by clicking here.

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Last year’s ride took me much longer than I had anticipated, so this year I tried to streamline my route to shorten the time spent in the saddle. To get out of Ottawa I headed straight down Wellington/Richmond/Robertson Road. Now most cyclists familiar with that stretch of road might not consider it the safest option. Few sections of it are safe most hours of the day, however there is a narrow window of opportunity early in the morning before traffic starts to build. I left the house at 5:30 am. Things went smoothly, until Richmond turned in to Robertson Road, just west of Baseline. That’s where any semblance of a paved shoulder disappears and the surprising number of cars, buses & trucks that early in the day flew by at highway speeds. I was very relieved to get on the Trans-Canada Trail west of Moodie Drive.

Calm & minimal traffic along Richmond....but narrow & speedy traffic along Robertson Rd
Calm & minimal traffic along Richmond….but narrow road & speedy traffic along Robertson Rd

The Trans-Canada Trail between Bells Corners and Carleton Place is an old railway line that has been converted to a packed stone dust path, as described in a bit more detail in the middle of this post. I’ve travelled it a few times now, so in search of a little variety, and to speed things up, I rode along Abbott Street for a short stretch through Stittsville, which runs parallel to the Trans-Canada Trail. Traffic was calm, and there was a generous shoulder for most of it’s length.

Packed stone dust Trans-Can Trail....& paved shoulder along Abbott Street through Stittsville
Packed stone dust Trans-Can Trail….& paved shoulder along Abbott Street through Stittsville

Stittsville went through a growth period in the 1870’s when the railway line connecting Ottawa to Carleton Place was introduced. There are a few surviving examples of buildings from that period near the intersection of Main and Abbott Street where the train station was located, including this fixer upper sandwiched between the Trans-Canada Trail and Abbott St.

Old house in Stittsville
Old house in Stittsville

The rail-to-trail section of the path ends on the edge of Carleton Place. From there I headed south-east along a path that runs parallel to McNeely Ave to where it crosses Highway 7. At the end of McNeely there is a wonderful network of short trails called the Beckwith Trail, that meanders through a varied mix of wooded area and old farmland. I followed the McGregor Branch and the Shady Branch to get to 9th Line road.

Sections of the Beckwith Trail
Sections of the Beckwith Trail

I then headed southwest along 9th Line, a two lane road where I encountered minimal traffic. Saw some beautiful big old brick farm houses. I also road through a thunderstorm. I passed this family of bovines just as the rain let up, staring at me as if to say, ‘What the heck are you doing way out here in this weather?!’

Befuddled bovines
Befuddled bovines

9th Line turned into Tennyson Road which I followed for a bit before turning on to Concession Road 7. It too was a nice quiet paved two laner through farm country. On the other side of the 511 it became a very smooth white stone dust road.

White stone dust surface along Concession Line 7
White stone dust surface along Concession Line 7

Road 7 morphed into McVeigh road, which I followed to where it ended at Doran Road. Now Doran Road was the trickiest stretch along this year’s ride to Blue Skies. It narrowed down to one lane with a loose stone gravel surfacing that went up and down through the woods for quite a ways.

Loose gravel along Doran Road
Loose gravel along Doran Road

The road surface became smoother once it turned on to Fagan Lake Road, and then paved once more on the other side of the Elphin-Maberly Road, along Zealand Road.

I am always amazed by the cedar post fences that weave their way through this whole area. The manner in which they are stacked and arranged in a zig-zag pattern allows for great flexibility in negotiating the rough rocky terrain. Here’s an example, perched up on the edge of a stone cut along Zealand Road.

Cedar post fence
Cedar post fence

For the rest of the ride I followed Bell Line Road and the A&P trail to my friends cottage on Sharbot Lake, and then up to the festival site the following morning, as described at the tail end of last year’s post.

Et voila – ’twas another wonderful Blue Skies festival full of music galore!

Early morning mist rising on a farmers field near Clarendon
Early morning mist rising on a farmers field near Clarendon

Biking over the Strandherd Bridge!

The long awaited opening of the Strandherd Bridge has happened. (Update Nov 2014 – now officially renamed the Vimy Memorial Bridge) Early Saturday morning I took the opportunity to bike over and test it out!

The route I followed to get to the bridge was the same as the one described in this post, as far as Leikin Drive. Mid way along Leikin I turned east and worked my way along paths and residential streets to get to the Chapman Mills Conservation Area which lies just north of the bridge. There’s a pedestrian boardwalk that meanders through the Conservation Area along the edge of the river, with lookouts and interpretive panels that describe the area’s natural environment.

Boardwalk through Conservation Area
Boardwalk through Chapman Mills Conservation Area

I walked my bike along the boardwalk to the southern edge of the Conservation Area where the path opens up onto this impressive side view of the bridge.

Side view
Side view

The path circles under the bridge, which affords some great views of it’s ribbed underbelly and massive footings.

Strandherd underbelly

Crossing under the bridge
It’s all under the bridge

This path leads up to the sidewalk along Strandherd Drive which runs alongside the bike lane over the bridge. I decided to video the momentous occasion, so without further ado, here is the Ottawa Velo Outaouais Peddle Powered Crossing of the new Strandherd Bridge!

Et voila!

Once on the other side of the river I cut through a residential area along paths and roads, rode along Spratt then Limebank to Leitrim Road, then along High Road beside the airport. From here on in I followed the same route described in this post.

n.b. Prince of Wales Drive is a busy street which I don’t recommend biking along at anytime other than early mornings on weekends, as described in this post. Hopefully this will be improved upon as soon as possible, because Manotick could be a great bike tourism draw if there was a safer way to get there from downtown along the west shore of the Rideau River.