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!

Ukraine in Ottawa – A Bike Tour

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. Here’s a bike tour of edifices around town representing the Ukrainian diaspora within Canada’s capital.

On December 2nd, 1991 Canada recognized Ukraine’s independence. Suddenly in need of an embassy, this building at 331 Metcalfe St was purchased with the help of funds gathered by Ukrainian-Canadians. The embassy has since moved a few blocks over to 310 Somerset West, which will be visited at the end of this tour, however this one on Metcalfe is still used as a consular building.

Consular building at 331 Metcalfe St
Consular building at 331 Metcalfe St

Next stop is the Saint John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Shrine near the corner of Heron Road and Prince of Wales Drive. To get there I rode over to the Rideau Canal bike path, crossed the canal at Pretoria Bridge, and 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 these stairs.

Stairs from pathway along the canal up to Heron Road
Stairs from pathway along the canal up to Heron Road

There is a bike lane along Heron Road that ends a hundred yards or so before reaching Prince of Wales Drive, so I took this well trodden path right around where the bike lane ends, that leads to the back of the church.

Small path off Heron Road
Small path off Heron Road to the back of the Shrine

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.

Monument to Taras Shevchenko
Monument to Taras Shevchenko

The church (or Sobor, or Shrine) was completed in 1987. More about it’s history can be found by clicking here. UPDATE – July 2018: The Capital Ukraininan Festival will be held at this site from July 20-22, 2018!

Saint John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Shrine
Saint John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Shrine

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. The Cathedral opened in 1978. More on it’s history can be read by clicking here.

Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

To complete the tour I rode along the Ottawa River Pathway back downtown to check out the Ukrainian Embassy on Somerset.

Ukraine purchased this building at 310 Somerset St from the federal NDP party in 1994, and it’s been their embassy ever since.

Ukrainian Embassy - 310 Somerset Street West
Ukrainian Embassy – 310 Somerset Street West

Et voila – the tour is complete!

P.S. Ottawa is also home to the rock band Ukrainia!

30 Days of Biking – Day 20 : Visiting an Industrial Park on Easter Sunday

Ever since I set out on my goal to ride down every street in Ottawa/Gatineau four years ago I’ve shied away from big industrial parks as they aren’t usually the safest places for cyclists. Or pedestrians. Or anyone else not encased in moving metal. This shouldn’t be the case as everyone needs to feel safe getting to work, but reality and desirability often don’t match up when it comes to bike infrastructure. Yet. That’s why, when I do venture in to these pedal badlands I often choose a quiet Sunday, and what quieter Sunday could there be than Easter? So on the 2/3 mark of 30 Days of Biking, between egg hunting and feast hosting, I rode over to an industrial park in the east end behind the Museum of Science and Technology. Blue line is how I got there. Red line shows how I got back to Chinatown.

To get to the east end of town I often pass under the Queensway along the path on the western shore of the Rideau River, and cross the river on the old train bridge, however having been warned via Twittersphere that it was closed for construction, and encouraged by a myriad of detour signs, I took the the Lees Ave bridge sidewalk over the Queensway. Another sign said to walk your bike because the sidewalk is pretty narrow. I recommend avoiding this route until the construction is completed.

Construction of Rideau River path under Queensway
Construction of Rideau River path under Queensway

I rode past the train station, then followed the bike path along Tremblay Road and crossed St Laurent Boulevard. That’s where the Industrial Park begins. While there is very little truck traffic in these areas on Sunday mornings, there are things to watch out for, like loose sand and debris along the edges of the roads, and GIANT POTHOLES! These are particularly treacherous on rainy days when they are filled with muddy water and less noticeable. This one’s about 3 inches deep.

Nid-de-poule
Mega pothole

I crossed Innes at Bantree where a ghost bike rests against a light post on the north west corner in memory of Tyler Brown, killed in an collision with a pickup truck. As I approached there was a woman quietly contemplating the roadside memorial so I rode on without disturbing her.

What I find most interesting within industrial parks are the designs of many of the buildings and surrounding landscapes occupied by various companies. Their need to be noticed often results in some audacious architecture shaped by the amount of visibility they desire, or by the large and unique scale of the service they provide. One particularly interesting building is the headquarters of RJW Stonemasons on Edinburgh Place. Their huge front facade is an exhibit of their fine craftsmanship in stone masonry, made all the more obvious in stark contrast to the blue metal siding of the rest of the building.

RJW

RJW
RJW

Here are a few other buildings and sites that caught my eye.

Speedy
trucks

Interestingly Industrial
Interestingly Industrial

On the way back I rode along Old Innes Road, which leads to a desire-line path that takes you down to the bike path that running along Innes Road.

Desire line from Old Innes to new Innes
Desire line from Old Innes to new Innes

Industrial Avenue on the other side of St Laurent turned out to be pretty dangerous even on Easter Sunday with 4 lanes of speeding cars and small shoulders, so I turned on to Russel Road, then Coronation street to where it becomes Blair St. From there I wove my way back downtown along the route shown on the above map and described in more detail in this post.

A fine ride indeed.

Winter ride to Champlain Park to see the ‘Trees as Witness to History’ outdoor exhibit

The neighbourhood of Champlain Park, located just west of Tunney’s Pasture, is home to some of the oldest forest born trees in Ottawa, including a number of magnificent bur oaks that are more than 200 years old. A recently installed interpretive exhibit on the exterior wall of the Champlain Park field house, titled ‘Trees as Witness to History’, displays a section of one Champlain Oak that grew along Northwestern Ave up until 2011. I highly recommend riding by and checking it out.

Here’s a winter ride to get there from Chinatown. Once beyond the Somerset bridge over the O-train tracks, the route weaves it’s way along quiet residential streets.

Trees as Witness to History display
Trees as Witness to History display

Clicking on this link takes you to a map showing the location of surviving trees from the bur oak forest in and around Champlain Park.

Cathy’s Tour! – A 24km bike loop starting from Carleton University

Here’s a healthy 24 km route almost entirely along bike paths. It begins at Carleton University and loops all the way back to the campus. It’s also a ride down memory lane, as it travels past a number of locations my older sister Cathy still recalls from the time she went to Carleton. Here goes.

Cathy graduated from the carleton University  School of Industrial Design, as did I a number of years later. The Industrial Design studios were shared between the Architecture building shown on the left in the photo below, and the Engineering building on the right. This bike ride starts in the passageway between the two buildings.

Starting out
Starting out

Head right on through the passageway up to and across Colonel By Drive. Hop on the path along the canal and head left towards Mooney’s Bay.

Path up to Mooney's Bay
Path up to Mooney’s Bay

The path eventually goes under and along Hog’s Back Road over the falls. It then curls under the road once again, popping out in Hog’s Back Park, a favourite spot of Cathy’s where she would go to study. Here’s a view from the look-out over the falls just inside the park.

View from Hogs Back Falls
View from Hogs Back Falls

After taking in the Falls, follow the path as it winds through the park and along the river. When the path gets to Bank Street you’ll notice this white bike commemorating the death of a cyclist who was run over by a cement truck at this busy intersection. UPDATE: May 2016 – The ghost bike has been removed by the city.

Commemorative bike
Commemorative bike

The path then continues all the way along the river with great views like this.

Path along the Rideau River
Path along the Rideau River

The next favorite spot of Cathy’s was the Towne Cinema located just off our route on Beechwood Avenue. The cinema has closed and relocated to Rideau Street and renamed the ByTowne Cinema, but the original art deco glass tower and marquee remain. On one of my visits to see Cathy when she was going to Carleton, she and her roommates decided to take me to a late showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Towne. Because it was restricted, and I was only 15 or 16, they dressed me up in drag, smothered my face in make-up, and wrapped me in a great big ratty old Sally-Ann fur coat. I remember shivering in the entrance, not sure if it was my nerves or the snow penetrating through the thin pumps I was wearing. Anyway, I got in, and it was great!

It's astounding. Time is fleeting!.... Where the Towne Cinema used to be.
It’s astounding. Time is fleeting!…. Where the Towne Cinema used to be.

Continue along the path all the way to Sussex Drive, past the Minto bridge.

Minto Bridge
Minto Bridge

Now Sussex is the only significant stretch on this loop that isn’t along a bike path. There is a bike lane, but it ends a bit further on, like so. UPDATE 2017 : Painted bike lanes have been extended all the way to the National Gallery!

Where the lane ends
Where the lane ends

It gets a little tight as you approach the National Gallery, so, depending on the amount of traffic and your comfort level, you may want to consider walking your bike along the sidewalk for a block or two.

Where the road squeezes
Where the road squeezes

Once at the National Gallery, go past Maman the giant spider and cross St Patrick, as shown on the above map. Then turn right onto the bike path heading towards the Ottawa River.

There’s a lane off to the left at the northern tip of Major’s Hill Park that immediately heads downhill towards the river. Take it. If you find yourself on the path heading over the Alexandra Bridge towards Gatineau you missed the turn off. The lane down to the river ends at the last set of Rideau Canal locks. Push your bike over one of the wooden locks.

The locks to cross
The locks to cross

Bike up the hill beside the locks. The path goes under Wellington Street at the top of the hill like so. A very cool space to discover.

Under Sappers Bridge
Under Sappers Bridge

The path comes out on the NAC drop off lane. Follow it for a short distance where you will notice the bike path re-appear on your left along the edge of the canal.

Another one of sister Cathy’s favorite hang-outs was the Black Cat Cafe, on the east side of the Pretoria Bridge. It has since re-located to Preston Street, having been replaced by a pub, and become a bit more upscale as the Black Cat Bistro. it did however retain it’s very cool skinny cats logo.

Looking across to where Black Cat Cafe used to be
Looking across to where Black Cat Cafe used to be

She also loved to walk along the canal on her way to Carleton. Except, of course, for that time a creep flashed her. In later years she also cross country skied along the canal in the Canadian Ski Marathon, which used to end at Landsdowne Park. They’ve long since stopped that, I believe because of the complex logistics involved in laying a snow trail from Hull to the canal. Now it ends in Gatineau. I did participate one year with her. I wasn’t able to complete the 2 day, 100 mile trek (she did and has many times over since), but I did attend the closing dinner, and recall the trail blazing Jackrabbit Johannsen chiding the Courieur de Bois skiers (who not only completed the marathon, but had to carry a full pack and sleep out over night), comparing their sissy adventure to what it was like ‘back in his day!’ By this time he was well in to his late 90’s. It was pretty funny. Cathy has earned the Gold Courieur Des Bois a few times since.

Canal near Landsdowne
Canal near Landsdowne

Continue on the path along the canal, around Dow’s Lake, and through the arboretum, where you’ll see the Arts Tower (since renamed the Davidson Dunton Tower) looming in the distance. Push your bike over the locks, cross Colonel By one more time and voila – our adventure is complete!

Approaching Carleton through the arboretum
Approaching Carleton through the arboretum

Ottawa Tour of Memorials to Firefighters

On Friday I happened upon a ceremony at the Ottawa Firefighter Memorial Monument outside city hall, commemorating Ottawa firefighters who have perished in the line of duty. On Sunday another ceremony will take place at the Canadian Firefighter Memorial on the edge of Lebreton Flats in remembrance of fallen firefighters from across the country. I remembered a couple of other installations within the city that commemorate our fire brigades, so this morning I hopped on my bike and toured them all. You can too. Here’s how.

.
This route starts at the Ottawa Firefighters Memorial just off Laurier in front of city hall. Along with engraved walls and sculpted figures, there are a number of black marble plaques depicting images of firefighters who have perished in the line of duty with accompanying interpretive texts describing their service and how they died, some dating back to the mid 1800’s. They are a touching exposé of the fatal dangers Ottawa firefighters have faced over time.

Ottawa Firefighters Memorial (one of the black plaques at the back  on the left)
Ottawa Firefighter Memorial (a couple of the black plaques visible at the back on the left)

Follow the path along the canal down to the Ottawa River Pathway behind Parliament Hill. Things get a bit convoluted with the myriad of intersecting paths on the other side of the Wellington Street underpass. Go left at the first fork in the path like so.

Fork in the path
Fork in the path

Stay left all the way until you see one of Ottawa’s oldest bridges on your right, Pooley’s Bridge beside the Fleet Street Pump Station.

Fleet St Pumping Station and Pooley's Bridge
Fleet St Pumping Station and Pooley’s Bridge

Cross over the bridge, from which you’ll be treated to this view looking north. There’s a kayakers course down there amongst the rapids.

View from Pooley's Bridge
View from Pooley’s Bridge

Once on the other side, turn right along the path that takes you between the kayak course on your right and the condo’s on the left. This will take you right up to the Canadian Firefighters Memorial.

National Firefighters Monument
National Firefighters Monument

Next, follow the Ottawa River Pathway all the way to Westboro, where you’ll discover this mural across the street from Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Westboro mural
Westboro mural

Next, bike over to Scott Street and follow the bike lane all the way to Holland. At Holland the lane disappears and is replaced with sharrows, which also vanish further on – super dangerous along this busy road. So cross Holland and get on the path that runs along the north side of Scott St, like so.

Path on north side of Scott St
Location of path on north side of Scott St

Turn south on Bayview and weave your way over to the corner of Garland and Wellington St W, as shown on the above map, where you will happen upon this sculpture of a hydrant with firefighter boots and a hose on top. It’s part of a series of fire hydrant sculptures that line Wellington West.

Hydrant sculpture
Hydrant sculpture

To complete the loop, head east on Somerset St W all the way to Cambridge St, then north to Laurier and the top of Nanny Goat Hill, then straight down the Laurier bike lane to the Ottawa Firefighter Memorial Monument where the tour began.

Chunks of Old Buildings – round 2

Last November I posted a tour of various architectural ruins that have been selectively placed throughout the city. Since then I’ve discovered a few others so I came up with this second route which I tested out this morning.

First stop on the tour is this sculpture titled Enfin le soleil, located in the Gatineau community of Jardins Taché. It is a piece commemorating a legal struggle in the 1970’s pitting the Association des propriétaires des Jardins Taché against the development of a high-rise that was constructed despite not meeting zoning requirements. The Association des propriétaires persevered and the building was demolished. Two sections of reinforced concrete were recuperated from the demolition and incorporated into this piece.

Enfin le soleil
Enfin le soleil

Second stop is a short distance down river just off the Sentier des Voyageurs. They are steel pipes from an EB Eddy facility, recovered in 1977 during construction of a nearby park and arranged within the landscape as reminders of the area’s industrial past.

EB Eddy Pipes
EB Eddy Pipes

Third stop is Strathcona’s Folly, a play structure created in 1992 by artist Stephen Brathwaite, located in Strathcona Park along the Rideau River. It incorporates architectural details from a number of heritage buildings throughout Ottawa, as described on a bronze plaque mounted within the piece.

Strathcona's Folly
Strathcona’s Folly

And finally, this Gothic Revivalist detail sits on the grass behind the Confederation Building, just to the west of Parliament Hill. There used to be a few others lying about with gargoyle motifs but I didn’t notice them on this occasion.

Gothic Revivalist detail
Gothic Revivalist detail

So there you have it – a few more strategically placed architectural remains commemorating the past within our ever changing built environments.