Biking to Strathcona Park, where there’s a whole lotta theatre going on!

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.

Odyssey Theatre – Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia
Clockwise from top left – Catriona Leger, David Warburton, Natalia Gracious & David DaCosta

A Company of Fools, Ottawa’s longest running professional Shakespeare company, performs their travelling show in the park every Monday evening throughout the summer. This year it’s the Bard’s comedy Twelfth Night you can catch them there, and in various other parks around the region for the rest of the week right up to August 18th.

Fools Twelfth Night
A Company of Fools – Twelfth Night
Left to right – Garrett Quirk, Kate Smith, Kate McArthur

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.

Start of Laurier Bike Lane heading east from 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.

Exit off Laurier Bike Lane before going over the bridge.
3 - sidewalk to MUP
Sidewalk along exit lane becomes multi-use path

Cross Queen Elizabeth Driveway at the 4 way stop and head south along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway.

Crossing the Queen Elizabeth Driveway to the Rideau Canal Western Pathway
Riding 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.

Exit off the Rideau Canal Pathway onto the Corktown Bridge – follow that guy.
View up the canal for Corktown Bridge

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.

Crossing Colonel By Drive heading under the transitway (they were putting down nice new pavers)

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.

Bike lanes along Somerset St East
Entrance to Strathcona Park at Somerset St East.
Path through 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.

Play structure
Strathcona Fountain
View down the Rideau River from the path along the river’s edge

Et voila!

Biking from Carleton University to Flannery Green to see Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night !

This Saturday A Company of Fools will be performing Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night in Flannery Green, a park located just east of Mooney’s Bay. Here’s a bike route Carleton summer students can follow along the canal to catch either the 2pm matinee or the 7pm show!

UPDATE: July 16, 2018 – The performances were a big success, so there is a strong possiblity the Fools will be back to perform in Flannery Green next summer! In the meantime, dear alma mater, this is a great route to Mooney’s Bay Park if ever you need a break from studies. Hog’s Back Falls are also a pretty spectacular site to behold, especially in the Spring.

Starting from the hub of resident buildings on campus, head up to where there is a link to get across Colonel By Drive to the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway, right beside the Hartwell Locks.

Start! from Carleton student residency’s.
Path link off Library Road towards the Colonel By crossing.

There aren’t traffic lights at this crossing, which has been a contentious issue as it is a popular pedestrian and bike access to campus. A compromise solution was to create a mini lay-away island between the two speedy lanes of traffic.

Crossing Colonel By Drive to the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway.

Once across Colonel By Drive turn left and head upstream along the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway.

Biking up the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway
Heading up past the locks, under Hog’s Back Road

The path goes under Hogs Back Road, then curls up to Mooney’s Bay. Follow the path along Hog’s Back Road that goes over the Rideau River.

First sight of Mooney’s Bay
Heading over the Rideau River along Hog’s Back Road

Once over the bridge veer right and head through Mooney’s Bay Park.

Veering right towards Mooney’s Bay Park
Northern entrance to Mooney’s Bay Park

Mooney’s Bay has a great big beach for those in need of a cool dip. It’s also a very popular weekend destination for huge events such as the Dragonboat Festival and various other rowing regatta’s. This weekend it will be the Hope Volleyball Tournament.

Beach at Mooney’s Bay

Continue through the park along the path towards the southern end where there is a short link to the traffic lights that take you across Riverside Drive.

Exit off path towards lights across Riverside Drive

Once across Riverside Drive, head straight along Mooney’s Bay Place, a residential street that brings you right to Flannery Green.

Biking along Mooney’s Bay Place

Et voila!

Twelfth Night in Bells Corners

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! (UPDATEJuly 2018 : As The Fools are now off touring Twelfth Night in parks all over Ottawa, 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.

Joining the Experimental Farm Pathway heading West at Iris Street

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.

Crossing at Woodroffe and turning infront of the fire station to where the Pinecrest Pathway continues on the other side.

The path curves down hill, at the bottom of which I took the exit that heads across the Transitway.

Exit off the Pincrest Creak Pathway that crosses 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.

Detour around bus parking at Baseline

The path continues parallel to Woodroffe, then veers west just before reaching the Legacy Skatepark. It then continues westwardly, twice crossing Centrepoint Drive.

Bike path west, away from Algonquin College

The path dips under the train tracks and ends a bit further at Craig Henry Drive.

Heading under the train tracks
Path just before Craig Henry Drive. Follow the light posts to avoid taking a wrong exit.

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.

painted lane along Craig Henry Drive

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.

Canfield Road.

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.

Accessing the path heading west off Canfield Road

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.

Woodsy section of path before crossing McClellan……and along power lines after crossing McClellan

Once arrived at Bruce Pit I turned right and followed the packed stone dust path that circles the Pit.

Entering Bruce Pit onto the stone dust path

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.

Gravel path around Bruce Pit

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.

Bridge over the 416

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.

Path beyond the chain link fence leading down to Stinson Ave

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.

Mid-Century Modern home in Bells Corners

Here’s a bit of Lynwood Park.

Lynwood Park

And finally, a taste of what the set will look like in the park.

Twelfth Night final model in Lynwood Park. Designer – Me!

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.

Happy trails!

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!

Swap Box Tour

Every few years my kids decide to do a thorough clean&purge of their rooms as they grow and their interests evolve. Result: many books, toys and trinkets they are ready to part with. Swap boxes are great for such occaisions. Here’s how they work: usually streetside, passersby are enticed to open them up. If something in there strikes their fancy they can exchange it with something else.

We were inspired to put up a swap box in front of our place after discovering a number of others around town, created by the late street artist Elmaks. Since then many more swap boxes have appeared. Most of them are specific to the exchange of books, but they work on the same premise. There is even an online group you can register your book swap box called Little Free Libraries. Here’s an article in the Kitchissippi Times on some local little libraries. But to get on this tour there’s no need to register online with any group. Just tell me where your swap box is and I’ll include it on the itinerary!

UPDATE, October 2018: I’ve been adding stops along the route as new boxes are being discovered. If I’ve missed any please feel free to send me a note and I’ll include it on the route.

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First stop – Cambridge St North, just north of the Chinatown Arch. This box even has it’s own Twitter handle .

Cambridge St N Swap Box
Cambridge St N Swap Box

Next stop, corner of Primrose & Arthur. Now THIS is a multi-compartmental swap box extravaganza! UPDATE-May ’17: Sadly the little black doors got ripped off this winter.

Primrose & Arthur Swap Box
Primrose & Arthur Swap Box

Down Nanny Goat Cliff, at the corner of Preston and Elm, there sits the cleverly converted newspaper box Book Exchange. There’s even a bike rack, lest you wish to dwindle while perusing the selection of swappable tomes, or pop in to the Preston Food Market for a Kit Kat.

Preston & Elm book exchange
Preston & Elm book exchange

Next it’s over to 125 Young St where sits this cute swap box.

125 Young St.jpg
125 Young St

A short one block loop gets you to this great swap box at 249 Loretta.

249 Loretta

This next box on Melrose Avenue is a clever take on the ‘A-frame’.

a-frame
A-Frame Box on Melrose Avenue

Next stop is in the heart of Hintonburg near the corner of Oxford & Pinehurst. This one has quite the history.  In the Fall of 2016 someone complained about the original bungalow style design to city by-law and the owners were told to take it down by September 16th. Fortunately there was a last minute stay of execution and the Hintonburg swap box got a reprieve. They were asked to replace it with another.

New Hintonburg box
Hintonburg Swap Box before….and after

Heading west, we discover our next swap box on Garrinson St just west of Carleton Ave. This one is all about books. Gotta admire the use of re-cycled roof shingles to ward off the elements which paperbacks are especially prone to.

Garisson Box
Garisson Box

A short distance away, just south of Wellington on Mayfair, sits another super sweet Little Free Library. This one is hosted by one of the finest elementary school teachers we’ve had the good fortune to get to know.

Madame Vicky's Swap Box
Madame Vicky’s Swap Box

Route takes a slight deviation to visit a couple of boxes, starting with this great Little Library box on Kenora St.

kenora-st
Kenora St. box

Next one is on Ruskin Street. Now this one has a bit of a disturbing history – someone with arsonist tendencies was caught on tape setting a previous incarnation of the box on flames! But the udaunted swap box owners said ‘Screw you arsonist!’, and rebuilt their box.

UPDATE 2018: The original route used the Harmer St pedestrian bridge over the Queensway to get to and from the Ruskin St box. That pedestrain bridge is being replaced and won’t be ready for another 2 years, so the present route as per the above map, goes along the Holland Avenue detour bike lanes.

Ruskin box
Ruskin Street new & improved little library

Over to this very beautifuly painted box on Evered Ave.

531 Evered Ave
Box on Evered Ave

The next one is a super sweet little swap box on Cole Avenue.

Cole swap box.jpg
Cole Avenue Swap Box

The box on Mansfield has a bench to rest on while perusing the shelves, one of which can accept tall books.

Mansfield Box.jpg
Mansfield Avenue Bench & Box

The tour heads westwardly to our next cute little library at 2125 Knightsbridge Rd. This one isn’t bolted down so I’m guessing in comes in and out at the whim of the prperty owner. So I don’t know if it will be there at all times. Water bowls for dogs is a nice touch.

2125 Knightsbridge Rd

Heading even further west, mostly along the Ottawa River Pathway, gets us to the Bayshore Park Community Garden & Oven which also has a big round swap box.

Swap box at the Bayshore Park Community Garden & Oven

Circling south into the Leslie Park neighbourhood brings us to two more boxes. The first is at 32 Abingdon Dr with a traditional styled hinged door.

32 Abingdon Dr
32 Abingdon Dr

The second is at 30 Harrison St that cleverly uses the JUTIS frosted cabinet door from Ikea.

30 Harrison St
30 Harrison St

A short detour south brings us to our next fine box at 33 Elvaston Ave.

33 Elvaston Ave
33 Elvaston Ave

Retracing our treads back onto the Experimental Farm Pathway before exiting towards Sherman Drive. This brings us to a swap box at the corner of Sherman Drive and Navaho Drive. What makes this one special is the surrounding landscaping with a dedicated path leading up from the intersection to the box.

Navaho and Sherman
Box at Navaho and Sherman

Once again back onto The Experimental Farm Pathway before detouring onto this box painted all white on Kingston Avenue!

1237 Kingston Ave
Swap Box at 1237 Kingston Ave.

Our next stop is further south, at the corner of Trillium Drive and Wallford Way. A one page instruction & description sheet is posted on the inside of the door, including a note on how the builders called on the services of a structural engineer friend who helped with the design of the box! The self closing hinge and neoprene lining keeps the door from slamming shut.

Trillium & Wallford
Trillium Drive and Wallford Way

The next most excellent box is on Bowhill Avenue.

bowhill
Box on Bowhill Ave

Another Little Library  may be found at 97 Four Seasons Dr, not far from the Bowhill Avenue box. This one is not attached to the ground but is instead attached to the base of a pedestal table.

97 Four Seasons Dr
Little Library at 97 Four Seasons Dr

There are some boxes further south-east. To get there I crossed the Rideau River at Hogs Back Falls and followed the route shown on the map. A more detailed description of this section of the ride can be found on this link , albeit in reverse. A slight detour over the Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge brings you to this proudly Canadian swap box on Cahill St.

1035 Cahill
1035 Cahill St

Back over the pedestrian bridge, there’s this cute box in Greenboro on Tammela Court. This sweet model opens from the top. It had been raining for a few days when I visited so a bit of water had gathered in the bottom. I’m sure it gets filled up with books in times of fair weather.

Tamella Court
Box on Tammela Court

The next few boxes to discover are in the Glebe. This one’s on Fourth Avenue, just east of Bronson. (I don’t reccomend riding along busy Bronson. Walk your bike along the sidewalk for a short block after crossing Bronson at the Madawaska/Fifth Avenue lights).

4th-ave
Little Library on Fourth Avenue

Next swap box is one block over and a bit east on Fifth Ave. This one cleverly recycles hidden Ikea hinges to avoid the door being left ajar.

Glebe Little Library
Little Library on Fifth Avenue

Our next box is just a few blocks south on Broadway Avenue.

hopewell-box
Broadway Little Free Library

Up and over the Rideau Canal along the Bronson bike lane brings us to Old Ottawa South. This lovely clear coated box along Hopewell Avenue had a chalkboard leaning up against it onto which a poem by Gwendolyn MacEwen was transcribed. Don’t know if the chalkboard is always there, but it is a nice addition to this discovery of swap boxes.

old-ottawa-south-box
Box & board along Hopewell Avenue

Next, a short side trip over the Rideau River to visit this robust Little Library on Pleasant Park Road. The most convenenient access to Alta Vista along this route is along the awful narrow Bank Street bridge over the Rideau River. Walking your bike along the sidewalk bridge is usually the safest option.

box-on-broadway
Box along Pleasant Park Road

A short loop through the Alta Vista neighbourhood brings us to this beautiful box with glass bead roof tiles on Featherstone Drive.

1621 Featherstone Dr
Box on Featherstone Drive

Back on the north shore of the Rideau River,  our next stop brings us to 146 Sunnyside Avenue. Big footprint shaped concrete pavers invite passersby to peruse the shelves.

sunnyside-box
Just direct your feet to the Sunnyside of the street

A bit north east on Belgrave Road lives this fine box, cleverly modeled after the house infront of which it sits.

belgrave-box
Box on Belgrave Road

One and a half blocks north at 75 Marlowe sits Mike’s Tiny Library. Super sweet!

75 Marlowe
Mike’s Tiny Library

Further east on Bower Street we find another fine box.

bower-box
Bower St box

Close by on Drummond Street there sits this dynamic box-within-a-box.

drummond-box
Box on Drummond Street

There are two fine boxes over in Overbrook. Ride along the canal, cut through the Ottawa University campus, down Somerset Street East, and over the Rideau River across the fabulous Adawé pedestrian/bike bridge. Weave your way along a few residential streets to this fine Little Library on Queen Mary Street. There’s even a chair to relax in once you get there.

IMG_7047
Little Library on Queen Mary St

Just a few blocks north there sits this generous little library on Ontario Street.

IMG_7048.JPG
Ontario Street Little Library

I made my way over to the corner of Vachon and Dagmar in Vanier to discover this fine box full of books with a fine magnetic latch that keeps the door closed on windy days.

Vachon
Little Library in Vanier, corner of Vachon & Dagmar

There’s another fun box in Vanier, at 355 Pauline Charron Place. To get there I rode up Père Blancs Avenue and cut through the grounds of their old monastry which is now a City of Ottawa park.

355 Pauline Charron Pl
Prenez un livre, laissez-en un! 355 Pauline Charron Pl.

Next stop is around the other side of Beechwood Cemetery where this Little Library is attached to the wall beside the entrance to the Manor Park Community Centre, just off Thornwood Road.

IMG_7074
Little Library at the Manor Park Communtiy Centre

Rolling along the west bound Beechwood Avenue Bike lanes and then those along St Patrick St brings us towards our next box at  260 St Andrew St.

260 St Andrew St
Box amongst flowers at 260 St Andrew St

Next stop is in Sandy Hill infront of St Paul’s Eastern United Church on Cumberland Ave. At the time of my discovering this box the doors had unfortunately ripped off this generously proportioned unit. Hopefully they will be replaced.

Cumberland St
Box on Cumberland St

Time to retrace our route back to the Rideau Canal before riding south into the Glebe. This sweet is box located at the corner of Strathcona and Metcalfe.

Library Bibliothèque at the corner of Strathcona and Metcalfe
Library Bibliothèque at the corner of Strathcona and Metcalfe

The next two boxes are neighbours on Argyle which is accessible via the bi-directional bike lanes along O’Connor. The first, introduced in the summer of ’17, is this brightly painted number.

Argyle
Box on Argyle

The second box on Argyle has a little clock in the gable, and the surrounding landscaping is beautiful. There are also garden chairs to sit on while contemplating a potential swap.

Box on Argyle
Box on Argyle

Next stop is in Centretown’s Dondonald Park.

Dundonald park
Swap box in Dundonald Park

Our next box is just a few blocks south on McLeod Street, which can be reached vis the bike lane along Percy Street.

577 McLeod
Fun Little Library infront of 577 McLeod

Another fine Little Library can be found on Arlington a few blocks west of Bronson. The Percy Street bike path gets you to Arlington. There are traffic lights to help get across busy Bronson.

430 Arlington
430 Arlington box with matching paint and roof tiles! Also a solar panel.

Last stop is the Mini Library, corner of Cambridge St N and Christie. This one takes taller books too.

Mini Library at Christie & Cambridge St N
Mini Library at Christie & Cambridge St N

Et voila!

Remembrance Day Bike Tour

Many Canadians are drawn to the November 11th Remembrance Day Ceremonies held at the National War Memorial to pay tribute to those who have fought and given their lives in the service of our great country. The following is a commemorative bike tour starting from the National War Memorial, with visits to a number of lesser known Canadian War Memorials throughout the capital, and ending at the National Military Cemetery.


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The National War Memorial was unveiled in 1939 to commemorate those who served in the armed forces during World War !. It has since come to symbolize the sacrifice of all Canadian Armed Forces in times of war.

National War Memorial
National War Memorial

Immediately in front of the Memorial is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It contains the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died near Vimy Ridge during the First World War. This tomb represents the many Canadian soldiers who have no known grave.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Leaving the War Memorial, Head down along the edge of the Rideau Canal beside the National Arts Centre to Confederation Park where the South African War Memorial is located.

South African War Memorial
South African War Memorial

Continue through the park to Elgin Street where one can see the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument.

National Aboriginal Veterans Monument
National Aboriginal Veterans Monument

The tour crosses Elgin street and follows the Laurier Bike Lane heading west before turning north along the Bay St bike lane. After crossing Wellington at the northern end of Bay, head east for one block to Lyon St. There is a gravel path through the park just to the east of the National Archives building that leads to Lyon. Looking across Wellington up Lyon Street, one sees the Veteran Memorial Buildings . Beneath the arch connection the two buildings across Lyon St there is a stone relief carving by Ivan Mestvovic in honour of those who fought in the First World War.

Veterans Memorail Buildings
Veterans Memorail Buildings

The tour continues west along Wellington which has a bike lane beginning at Lyon St. This bike lane continues across the Portage Bridge. Just before heading over the Ottawa River there is a path off to the right that leads down to the waters edge and the Royal Canadian Navy Monument.

Royal Canadian Navy Monument
Royal Canadian Navy Monument

Head back up and over the Portage Bridge, then east along the Voyageurs Pathway that hugs the shore of the Ottawa River. One of the finest views of Parliament Hill can be seen from this section of path. The Memorial Chamber is located inside the Peace Tower. it contains the Books of Remembrance, recording every Canadian killed in service from Canada’s first overseas campaign, the Nile Expedition, to the present.

View of Parliament Hill from the Voyageurs Pathway
View of Parliament Hill from the Voyageurs Pathway

The tour heads back over the Ottawa River over the Alexandra Bridge. The Peacekeeping Monument, dedicated to Canadians who have served as peacekeepers around the world, is located on a traffic island along Sussex Drive between the national Gallery and the American Embassy.

Peacekeeping Monument
Peacekeeping Monument

The next section of the tour continues north along Sussex Drive which has a bike lane. The Defence of Hong Kong Memorial is located at the corner of Sussex and King Edward Avenue. This Memorial is dedicated to those Canadian Soldiers who served in the defence of Hong Kong during the Second World War.

Defence of Hong Kong Memorial
Defence of Hong Kong Memorial

Cross Sussex and follow the path overlooking the Rideau Falls. There are two memorials on Green Island located between the two sets of falls: The Commonwealth Air Forces Ottawa Memorial, and the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion Memorial dedicated to Canadian volunteers of the Mackenzie–Papineau Battalion during the Spanish Civil War.

The Commonwealth Air Forces Ottawa Memorial
The Commonwealth Air Forces Ottawa Memorial
Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion Memorial
Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion Memorial

The tour continues along the path overlooking the second set of falls, then back across Sussex. On the opposite side of Sussex is the CANLOAN Monument, dedicated to Canadian soldiers who died while volunteering with the British army during the Second World War.

Canloan Monument
Canloan Monument

Head east along Stanley Avenue and the Rideau River Eastern Pathway. Then weave your way north along Barrette St to avoid the busy section of Beechwood, then get back on to Beechwood where the bike lane starts at Marier avenue. A bit further along one arrives at the entrance to Beechwood Cemetery. The National Military Cemetery is located within the grounds, as indicated on the above map.

National Military Cemetery
National Military Cemetery

the poem In Flanders Fields is cast onto a bronze plaque and mounted on a simple elegant plinth.
It is from this poem that the red poppy was drawn to become the symbol of Remembrance Day.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McRae, 1915

In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields

Bike tour of Graffiti Walls around Ottawa and Gatineau

Here’s a bike tour of some great local legal graffiti walls. Legal walls are those onto which artists can paint without the risk of being chased away or arrested. The sites are identified by the purple markers on the map below. We also passed a few interesting non-legal graffiti walls along the way which I’ve identified on the map with red markers. It was great to have my nephew from Montreal along for the ride who is well versed in the subtleties of graffiti art.

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We started off from the Tech Wall, corner of Bronson and Slater.

tech wall1

Tech Wall detail
Tech Wall detail

We then headed over to Gatineau. There’s graffiti on the Voyageurs pathway tunnel walls where it goes under the Portage Bridge. In the winter the giant ventilation pipes let out intermittent bursts of steam in loud hisses and pops. All very dramatic.

Voyageurs Pathway heading under Portage Bridge
Voyageurs Pathway heading under Portage Bridge

We made our way over to La Ruisseau de la brasserie pathway. There’s lots of bits graffiti along the walls of the Boulevard des Allumetières underpass.

La Ruisseau de la brasserie pathway heading under  Boulevard des Allumetières
La Ruisseau de la brasserie pathway heading under Boulevard des Allumetières

Our second legal-wall is located along the walls of the bike path underpass heading beneath Autoroute de la Gatineau. This is a fantastic immersive stretch that pops up beneath a web of overpasses. As luck would have it, they had just painted over the entire wall in preparation for the next round of artists, however here are a couple of shots from a previous tour.

Under Autoroute de la Gatineau
Under Autoroute de la Gatineau

The path splits just beyond the underpass. We continued straight ahead to check out our third legal wall located a short distance along the path. This spectacular spot is located beneath the interchange ramps of the two major highways that cut through Gatineau, the 5 and the 50. The legal walls are on both sides of the stream, accessible by a small wooden bridge.

Stop 3 wall

Stop 3

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

We retraced our route a short distance to the earlier encountered exit across a bridge over the stream. This path took us around Lac Leamy and eventually along the Gatineau River. We then turned up along the path towards Gatineau Park. At this turn the path goes under the transitway. Along the walls of this tunnel there is some graffiti which appears to mostly be a commissioned mural. Here is some of the work just at the entrance. I don’t think the Cookie Monster is part of the original work. The mural on the inside tunnel walls is more detailed.

Graffiti at entrance to tunnel under the transitway bridge
Graffiti at entrance to tunnel under the transitway bridge

The path weaves its way up towards Gatineau Park. I’ve often seen deer along this path, although none quite as calm as these two we met.

Deer!
Deer!

The path crosses under Highway 5 for a second time. This is where our next legal graffiti walls are located.

Entrance to tunnel under highway 5
Entrance to tunnel under highway 5

The legal walls in Gatineau are identified by signs such as this one above the tunnel under Highway 5.

Sign at top of entrance tunnel
Sign at top of entrance tunnel

The next section of the ride circles up through a bit of Gatineau Park before heading back over the Portage Bridge to Ottawa. From there we followed the Ottawa River Pathway before turning inland along the O-Train pathway. Some graffiti can be seen where the pathway crosses under the SJAM Parkway. My nephew pointed out that a lot of it consisted of a tag war, with two or more painting over each other in a tit-for-tat manner.

Tag War along the O-Train Pathway
Tag War along the O-Train Pathway

To get to our final stop of the tour, we rode to and along the Rideau Canal through the Arboretum, crossed over the canal locks at Carleton University, rode through the campus, and headed over to the edge of the Rideau River where Bronson Avenue soars above. This is the most impressive legal wall in terms of scale. It’s also where the annual House of Paint Festival is held.

Brewer1

Legal wall under Bronson Ave at the edge of the Rideau River
Legal wall under Bronson Ave at the edge of the Rideau River
Bronson wall detail
Bronson wall detail

That is the last graffiti wall we visited on this tour. We completed the route by riding up along the Rideau river and canal to Hogs Back Falls, then down along the path on the opposite side of the Rideau River before heading back to our starting point.

This tour is also a fine route for anyone wishing to visit the major water ways in our region including the Ottawa River, the Rideau Canal, the Gatineau River, the Rideau River, as well as the Ruisseau de la Brasserie.

Et voila!

monster