Ottawa Bike Tour of Swap Boxes and Little Free Libraries

As the Coronavirus has imposed restrictions on most forms of exercise biking remains a good option to get outside for some fresh air and physical activity. Another good way to pass the time is reading! Swap boxes and little free libraries are great for such occasions. Here’s how they work: usually streetside, passersby are enticed to open them up. If something inside strikes their fancy they can take it or exchange it with something else. Almost all of the boxes on this tour happen to be specific to the exchange of books, but they all work on the same principle.

This tour has evolved over time, as suggested by the photos taken throughout the year. Due to the drastic changes brought on by the virus I decided to revisit all the boxes on the tour to check which ones are still sharing.  Those that are I’ve identified with a green marker on the map.  The ones that are closed until further notice I’ve identified with white markers and taken off the route. 

We were inspired to put up a swap box in front of our place after discovering a number of others around town that had been created by the late street artist Elmaks. There is also an online group you can register your book swap box called Little Free Libraries. Here’s an article in the Kitchissippi Times on some of those local little libraries.

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First stop – Cambridge St North, just north of the Chinatown Arch!

Swap Box on Cambridge St N

Down Nanny Goat Cliff, at the corner of Preston and Elm, there sits the cleverly converted newspaper box Book Exchange. 

Preston & Elm book exchange
Preston & Elm book exchange

Next it’s over to this great swap box at 249 Loretta Avenue.

249 Loretta
Loretta Avenue

A couple of blocks west at the corner of Beech Street and Bayswater Avenue you can’t miss this colourful Little Free Library/Boîte à livres.

Double compartment little library at Beech&Bayswater

 A bit further down Bayswater, just north of Sherwood Drive, you will find this box with Tudor detailing, complementing the same style of the house in the background. There are mini solar panels at the base of the box and a string of red lights along the top so I’m guessing nightime visitors get an extra treat!

Box on Bayswater

A few blocks away and up a hill you will find this very well constructed box.

Wonderful Little Free Library on Gwynne Ave.

Back to the north side the Queensway along Fairmount, then a couple of blocks west along Gladstone gets you to this next box on Melrose Avenue with a clever take on the ‘A-frame’.

a-frame
A-Frame Box on Melrose Avenue

Heading a few blocks north into Hintonburg brings you to this pair of book boxes at 50 Ladoucer. 

50 Ladoucer 2
50 Ladoucer

A bit further west in Hintonburg you will find a box near the corner of Oxford & Pinehurst. This one has quite a history.  In the Fall of 2016 someone complained about it’s original sprawling bungalow styling 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 it got a reprieve. They then replaced it with a more compact design, which has since been replaced with the one that is there now.

Oxford St swap box

Across the transitway there’s this fine tall box on Northwestern Avenue.

219 Northwestern
Box infront of 219 Northwestern Ave

Our next stop is at the Corner of Carleton and Gould streets. A sign in the windowq proudly states, ‘Made by Quinn’. Well done Quinn!

Carleton & Gould
Quinn’s box at the corner of Carleton & Gould St’s

We discover our next swap box just south of Wellington on Mayfair, where 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

A few blocks south brings us to this little library at 436 Mayfair.

Box on Mayfair

Our route goes another couple of blocks east great Little Library box on Kenora St.

kenora-st
Kenora St. box

UPDATE – 2018: The Harmer St pedestrian bridge over the Queensway 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.

At our next stop sits this generous two legged box outside the St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church. The little plaque on the front says it was made by the youth of the church.

St Stephen’s Church little library

A few blocks south you will find this great colourful box Hamilton Avenue South.

Wonderful box at 405 Hamilton Ave S

Right aronud the corner sits this lovely one on Inglewood Place.

Inglewood Place

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 – Fall, 2018: A super cute little box for little swapable items has been attached to the side of the big box!

Swap boxes at 125 Ruskin

Over to Island Park Drive where this super sweet ‘petit bibliotheque’ has mini toad-stools for little ones to rest upon.

Boxes at the corner of Brennan and Iona

Over to this very beautifuly painted box on Evered Ave.

531 Evered Ave
Box on Evered Ave

A mere couple of blocks west brings you to this stragetically placed box on Kenwood near Edison.

Edison & Kenwood
Box at near the corner of Edison & Kenwood

UPDATE: March 2020 The next box on the tour was a super sweet little swap box on Cole Avenue. – Sadly it’s gone. It was a favourite so I’m leaving a photo up in memory of all the joy it provided.

Cole swap box.jpg
Cole Avenue Swap Box

This fabulous box on Roosevelt Avenue has a dentil detailed gable trim and cedar shingle panelling!

Great box at 571 Roosevelt

Just a few blocks south/west brings us to this elegantly designed box. It’s got a corrugated pitched roof, a clear plexiglass door sans casing, and some nicely detailed colour coordinating.

664 Highland Ave
Nicely detailed box at 664 Highland Ave

The box on Mansfield has a bench to rest on while perusing the shelves. One shelf accepts exceptionally tall books.

Mansfield Box.jpg
Mansfield Avenue Bench & Box

A slight detour south to the Glabar Park neighbourhood brings you to this double-duty Little Library on Lenester Avenue. The lower box is labelled ‘Young Readers’. The upper box has stained glass windows!

TWO box unit on Lenester

Next you can find this fine book box on Midway Ave near Ancaster. 

Box at Midway and Ancaster

A quick jaunt down Woodland Avenue brings you to this most excellent box.

Box on Woodland Ave

Based on similarites in design with the previous two boxes, I have a sneaking suspicion the next one on Apple Orchard Park came from the same designer.

New Orchard Park
Book box at New Orchard Park

Heading even further west, mostly along the Ottawa River Pathway, gets us to the Bayshore Park Community Garden & Oven which also has this big multi-layered swap box. The purple line on the above map shows a winter route, as the Ottawa River Pathway is not cleared. A more detailed description of this route can be found by clicking here.

Swap box at the Bayshore Park Community Garden & Oven

Circling south mostly along bike paths into the Leslie Park neighbourhood brings us to two more boxes. The first is at 32 Abingdon Dr with a traditional styled hinged door. Unfortunately I cannot recommend a safe winter route to this box from the Bayshore Park box as most of the bike paths linking the two aren’t cleared.

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

Next is this box at 2423 Ryan Dr with a bench to relax and peruse the offerings!

2423 Ryan Dr
Hefty swap box at 2423 Ryan Dr

Our tour heads east to this swap box at the corner of Sherman and Navaho Drive which has a little path leading up from the intersection.

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.

UPDATE June 2020 – This next box at the corner of  Trillium Drive and Wallford Way is closed with a note suggesting downloading books from Amazon. I will put it back on the route when and if it re-opens.

Trillium & Wallford
Trillium Drive and Wallford Way

The next most excellent box is on Bowhill Avenue.

bowhill
Box on Bowhill Ave

There’s a box further south-east on Cahill St. To get there I crossed the Rideau River at Hogs Back Falls and followed the route shown on the map. 

1035 Cahill
1035 Cahill St

Further west along Uplands Drive you will find this great box called the Oak Tree Free Library.

Free Library on Uplands Drive

The next few boxes to discover are in the Glebe. This one’s on Fourth Avenue, just east of Bronson. 

4th-ave
Little Library on Fourth Avenue

This box is on Fifth Avenu.

Box on Fifth Avenue at Chrysler St.

This next box over on Thornton has great playful proportions!

27 Thorton

Half way down the block on the opposite side of Thornton you will discover this great Book Sharing Zone box.

12 Thornton Ave

Our next box is just a few blocks over 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. After cutting through Old Ottawa South through Brewer Park and an assortment of residential streets there is 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

One block south on Mountbatten Avenue you will find this wonderfully colourful box.

Box on Mountbatten Avenue

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

1621 Featherstone Dr
Box on Featherstone Drive

Our next stop on our Alta Vista loop brings us to this sweet one at 1647 Pullen Ave. Tons of TLC has been put into the painting details. gotta go see it to believe it.

1647 Pullen
Pretty box at 1647 Pullen

A few blocks west brings you’ll find this Little Library on Devon St with a mini-bike weathervane keeping it company! UPDATE March 2020 – The post is still there but the box is gone. I’ll add it back to the route if it ever re-appears.

1624-devon
1624 Devon St

A little bit further north-west gets us to this swap box on Bloor Ave with quite an impressive base support structure. UPDATE March 2020 – A note on this box says it has been temporarily closed. It will include it on the route once I notice it’s open once again.

473 Bloor
Blue & black box on Bloor

Continuing on our loop through Alta Vista brings us to this cleverly designed mobile unit on Knox Crescent.

Mobile box at 217 Knox Crescent

Head back on over to the north shore of the Rideau River and follow the path along to the river to Belmont Drive where you will find this super sweet box.

Box on Belmont near the Rideau River

A couple of blocks over you will see this great little library at 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

This nicely crafted box is located a bit further north on Glencairn Avenue.

Well crafted box on Glencairn Avenue

Our next great box can be found just around the corner on Riverdale Ave. This one also has a generous concrete bench infront of it.

Box on Riverdale Ave

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

Nary a block over is this great box on Mutchmor Road.

Box on Mutchmor (can’t ask for Mutchmor than that!)

Close by on Merritt Ave you will find this great little library.

Little Library on Merritt Ave

A couple of blocks north on Drummond Street there sits this dynamic box-within-a-box.

drummond-box
Box on Drummond Street

Just a couple of blocks north you can find this fine box on Glanora Street.

Glanora St swap box

Ride north along the Rideau Canal pathway then cut through the Ottawa U campus, then head east through the Sandy Hill neighbourhood along Wilbrod which is a one way street with a bike lane. Head one block north on Cobourg St where you will find this great box near the north/east corner of Stewart. It has hi-vs stickers on it’s legs, and a fine stepping stone to allow smaller readers to peruse the titles.

Swap box on Stewart St near Cobourg St

There are two fine boxes over in Overbrook. Cross the Rideau River across the fabulous Adawé pedestrian/bike bridge. To to the bridge head west along the Stewart St bike lane for one block then turn left onto Augusta Street. Augusta ends at Wilbrod but there’s a little paved path that takes you through from Wilbrod to Laurier. Cross Laurier and down the hill along Golbourn to Somerset. The Adawé bridge is at the eastern end of Somerset.  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

Heading further east for quite a spell, one finds this hearty box at 20 Appleford St in the Cardinal Heights neighbourhood. These social distancing rabbits were ahead of me last time I visited.

Little Library at 20 Appleford St

Heading back west you will discover this fantastic box on Roanoke Street!

‘Take a Book-Leave a Book’ on Roanoke St!

 

Next, over in Vanier there is this colourful box at 355 Pauline Charron Place.

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

Back to the bike path along St Laurent, head north then left on the bike path along Hemlock Road which gets you to this fine little library.

Little Library along Hemlock Road

Next is this Little Library at Vachon & Dagmar.

Vachon
Little Library in Vanier, corner of Vachon & Dagmar

Cross the river over the St Patrick Street bridge towards this bright red box at the end of Old St Patrick St. in Lowertown.

Bright red box on Old St Patrick St

A couple of blocks north is 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 (UPDATE March 2020 – Sadly the little clock is gone but the box remains!). The surrounding landscaping is beautiful. There are also garden chairs to sit on while contemplating a potential swap.

Box on Argyle
Box on Argyle

Our next box is further west on McLeod 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. UPDATE March 2020 – A note on this box says it has been temporarily closed. It will include it on the route once I notice it’s open once again.

There is a solar panel powering a light that turns on once you open the door to the box when it’s dark out. TRÈS cool!

Box at 430 Arlington during the day….and at night!

A short detour west gets you to this box at 23 Balsam St.

Books box at 23 Balsam St

Our final stop is this 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!

I’ve been adding new boxes throughout a number of years as they are installed. If I’ve missed any please feel free to send me a note and I’ll include it on the route.

Bike tour of Graffiti Walls around Ottawa and Gatineau

This is an update of a tour posted a few years ago as there have been a number of improvements to the route and the status of some of the walls has changed. The purple markers on the map identify legal walls, or those onto which artists can paint without the risk of being chased away or arrested. The red markers are a couple of non-legal graffiti walls along the route.

Our tour begins at the edge of the Rideau River underneath the Bronson Avenue bridge. You can access the site from Brewer park on the east side or along a dirt path from Carleton University campus. In this breathtaking setting you will discover two huge sets of walls facing each other across an expanse of packed earth. It’s also the site of the annual House of Paint Festival of Urban Arts and Culture .

Graffiti under the Bronson bridge

Our next stop is popularly known as the Tech Wall, located at the corner of Bronson and Slater. To get there cut through the Carleton campus, push your bike over the Rideau Canal locks, follow the bike path along the canal through the beautiful Arboretum, then follow the bike path along the O-Train tracks. After passing under Albert Street at the Bayview Station, turn right along the path that heads east along Albert. Cross Albert at the bike/pedestrian crossing and follow the path up to the intersection of Bronson and Slater. The path takes you across that intersection to where you will be facing the Tech Wall across a fenced in dog park. You can enter the dog park to get a closer look at the works of the various artists.

The next bunch of walls are in Gatineau. Continue along the Laurier bike lane to Bay St, follow Bay to Wellington, turn left onto the bike path that runs beside Wellinton and follow it over the Ottawa River along the Portage Bridge, then turn right onto the Voyageurs pathway. There’s usually some interesting graffiti on the Voyageurs pathway tunnel walls passing under the Portage Bridge.

Voyageurs Pathway tunnel under Potage Bridge

Continue along the Voyageurs Pathway and cross Alexandre-Taché Blvd at the lights. There’s a path that cuts through the small park, then over a small bridge. Turn right onto the road that eventually becomes the Ruisseau de la Brasserie Pathway. This pathway dips along and over the stream before heading under the Autoroute de la Gatineau. This fantastic immersive stretch pops up beneath a web of overpasses, made all the more sensational with graffiti filled walls. Occasionally the walls get re-painted a neutral grey in preparation for the next round of artists.

Ruisseau de la brasserie pathway

The path splits just beyond the underpass. Stay right (versus taking the small bridge over the stream) and continue a short distance along the path to check out the next series of walls. 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. On my most recent visit they had recently been given the grey overcoat. Artists had started to paint but there wasn’t too much to photo so the following examples are from a previous visit. 

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

Retrace your route a short distance to the earlier exit that takes you across the samll bridge. This bike path continues around Leamy Lake then along the Gatineau River. Turn right off the path towards Gatineau Park where it goes under the transitway. At both entrances of this tunnel there is graffiti.

The path weaves its way up and under Highway 5 for a second time. This is where our final set of walls are located.

It was great having my nephew from Montreal along for the first version of this tour. He is well versed in the subtleties of graffiti art and he taught me lots!

Tech Wall detail

Et voila!

Biking to Windsor Park to see Romeo and Juliet!

A Company of Fools production of Romeo and Juliet

A Company of Fools is once again touring parks across the capital region throughout the summer. This year they will be performing Romeo and Juliet! Here’s a description of the show from an interview with director Nicholas Leno.

 Someone requested a bike route from Hintonburg to Windsor Park where they will be tonight on Saturday, August 17th.

Here is a map showing the route with a description below.

 

Starting from the corner of Fairmount St and Wellington St West, head south along Fairmount as far as Sherwood Drive, passing under the Queensway along the way.

Fairmont St after passing under the Queensway

Turn left onto Sherwood Drive and continue along until it ends at Carling Avenue.

Heading down Sherwood St towards Carling

Cross Carling at the lights and ride through Queen Julliana Park to Prince of Wales Drive.

Bike path through Queen Juliana Park

Cross Prince of Wales Drive at the pedestrian lights just west of where the bike path ends and head into the Arboretum. Ignore the sign on the gate that says it’s closed. The sign has been there for ages and I have no idea why it’s there – the Arboretum is open to the public all year round.

Entering the Arboretum after crossing Prince of Wales from Queen Juliana Park

The paths through the Arboretum are a combination of paved and stone dust surfacing.

Biking through the Arboretum

You will eventually reach the Rideau Canal. Ride along until you reach the Hartwell Locks. Push your bike over the last set of locks. The Fools will be playing at this location on July the 10th.

The top set of locks which are wide enough to push your bike across.

Cross Colonel By Drive into the Carleton University campus, and cut through the campus as per the above map to the pedestrian crossing at Bronson Avenue. At one stage you will be dipping under the O-Train tracks.

Path under the O-Train tracks while cutting through the Carleton U campus

Once across Bronson, continue along the path through Brewer Park to Cameron Avenue. Cameron is a quiet one way heading easy but it has a bike lane heading west so it’s safe to ride along it on the way back.

Cameron Ave heading east with the dedicated bike lane heading west

Before reaching Bank Street turn right onto Wendover Avenue which merges into Warrington Drive that runs along the edge of the Rideau River. At the end of Warrington one can access the Rideau River Pathway that continues along the river.

Accessing the Rideau River Pathway off Warrington Drive

The path goes under Bank Street and continues on merrily along the river. Windsor Park is a short distance further along this path. There is no sign off the bike path identifying the park but you will have no problem noticing the stage.

Set for Romeo & Juliet

Enjoy the show !

For a complete list of the parks that The Company of Fools will be performing throughout the summer, including maps, click here. If anyone needs a bike route to get there, send me a starting point and the park you want to go to and I’ll figure out a route for you.

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! (UPDATEFall 2018 : The  Twelfth Night tour is over, however this route continues to serve as a convenient connection from Bells Corners to areas further east!)

Our journey begins at the intersection of Iris & Navaho. I headed a short distance along Iris Street to where it crosses the Experimental Farm Pathway. That’s where I got onto the path and headed west.

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!

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 commute from Aviation Parkway & Montreal Road to Downtown – Option 2

In the Spring of 2014 I posted a bike commute route from the intersection of Aviation Parkway & Montreal Road to downtown which you can check out by clicking here.

This summer two new lengths of bike lanes along busy roads have been introduced that allow for a less circuitous route. The first set of new lanes are along St Laurent Boulevard, linking previously existing bike lanes that run along Montreal Road and Hemlock Road, which turns into Beechwood Avenue.

UPDATE 2018 : Bike lanes have been added to the full length of Beechwood, indentified by the purple line on the map, which allows for a slightly less circuitous route than the one described below.

The second set of new lanes encountered on this outing are along Sussex Drive that complete an important bike link from downtown to the Ottawa River Pathway.

I tried out the route one morning last week during commute hour. Here’s how it went.

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There are bike lanes along Montreal Road that end at St Laurent Boulevard heading west.

DCIM100GOPRO
Bike lane along Montreal Road

I turned north on St Laurent and rode down the freshly painted bike lanes.

Bike lane along St Laurent Boulevard
Bike lane along St Laurent Boulevard

Here’s a clip of my ride along the new bike lane along St Laurent heading north.

I turned left onto Hemlock Road and followed the bike lane to where it ends at Putman Avenue.

Bike lane along Hemlock
Bike lane along Hemlock

Headed west along Putnam then left down Vaughan Street, both quiet residential streets through New Edinburgh.

Riding through New Edinburgh
Riding through New Edinburgh

Vaughan ends at Crichton Street. A short jog west along Crichton took me to a gravel path that links to the Rideau River Eastern Pathway.

Gravel path off Crichton that leads to.....the Rideau River Pathway
Gravel path off Crichton that leads to…..the Rideau River Eastern Pathway

One of my favourite routes from New Edinburgh to downtown takes me over the series of little white bridges along Union Street, then cuts through Lowertown, as described in the other route, however the bridges are presently under major renovation.

Closed for construction
Closed for construction

All the more incentive to try out the second stretch of new bike lanes along Sussex Avenue.

Bike lane along Sussex
Bike lane along Sussex

I then turned in to the parking lane of the National Gallery and cut across the plaza where one can admire Louise Bourgeois’ sculpture Maman.

Maman
Maman

Here’s another clip, this time of the new section of bike lane along Sussex heading in to town.

I then crossed at the signalized pedestrian crosswalk over to the bike lanes that run along Majors Hill Park. Before crossing the Alexandra Bridge (which would be a fine thing to do if your commute was to Gatineau) I turned left onto the road that goes down to where the Rideau Canal meets the Ottawa River and walked my bike over the second set of locks. From there one can follow the Ottawa River Pathway to points further west along the river, or bike up along the canal towards the NAC and the rest of downtown.

Et voila!

Rideau Canal locks
Rideau Canal locks

Bike Tour of Totem Poles

A while ago I joined a walking tour of Parliament Hill with Jaime Koebel. Jaime runs Indigenous Walks which she describes as, ‘A guided walk & talk through downtown Ottawa that presents participants with social, political, cultural & artistic spaces from an Indigenous perspective‘. As we looked out across the Ottawa (or Kitchissippi) River towards the Museum of History, Jaime mentioned the totem poles displayed within the museum, as well as a number of others carved by indigenous sculptors located outdoors within the area. Here’s a 33km loop that visits those sites. This bike tour is almost entirely along  NCC multi-use paths.
UPDATE 2018: I’ve added an optional detour to Rideau Hall where stands another totem pole (see purple line on map). More on this piece further down in the post.

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Our ride begins near the eastern tip of Victoria Island where stands this totem pole sculpted by Walter Harris of the Gitxsan First Nation in northern British Columbia.

Totem sculpted by Walter Harris
Totem sculpted by Walter Harris

I rode west and accessed the Ottawa River Pathway behind the War Museum, and followed it along the river to where it connects to the Pinecrest Creek Pathway.

View from the Ottawa River Pathway
View from the Ottawa River Pathway

I rode the length of the Pinecrest Creek Pathway to Woodroffe Avenue.

Pinecrest Creek Pathway
Pinecrest Creek Pathway

On the south side of Woodroffe the path continues as the Experimental Farm Pathway.

North section of the Experimental Farm Pathway winding through open areas
North section of the Experimental Farm Pathway winding through open areas

On the south side of Maitland the path weaves it’s way up through a wooded area.

Wooded section of Experimental Farm Pathway between Maitland Avenue and Merivale Road
Wooded section of Experimental Farm Pathway between Maitland Avenue and Merivale Road

The second totem pole on our tour is located in front of the Scouts Canada National Office on Baseline Road. To get there I turned off the pathway and cut through a residential area along paths and quiet roads as shown on the above map.

This totem was carved by Chief Mungo Martin, a Kwakwaka’wakw carver from British Columbia. It was acquired by the Boy Scouts in 1960.

Totem sculpted by Chief Mungo Martin
Totem sculpted by Chief Mungo Martin

I then headed back to the Experimental Farm Pathway which runs along farmed fields east of Merivale Road. Sections of the pathway east of Fisher follow along quiet roads through the farm.

Experimental Farm
Experimental Farm

I crossed Prince of Wales Drive at the signalized crosswalk and headed over to the Rideau Canal locks beside Carleton University. I crossed the locks and biked down the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway towards downtown.

The Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway
The Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway

I re-traversed the canal at the Somerset pedestrian bridge and headed over to Confederation Park to visit the third totem pole along the tour, sculpted by Henry Hunt also of the Kwakwaka’wakw and apprentice of Mungo Martin.

Totem sculpted by Henry Hunt
Totem sculpted by Henry Hunt

Next stop – the Grand Hall of the Museum of History. To get there I rode down beside the canal and across the second to last set of locks.

View down the last set of locks along the Rideau canal before it drains into the Ottawa River
View down the last set of locks along the Rideau canal before it drains into the Ottawa River

I then rode up the paved path from the river and crossed the Alexandra Bridge to our final stop at the Museum of History in Gatineau.

Crossing the Alexandra Bridge
Crossing the Alexandra Bridge

I UPDATE – August 2018: There is another totem pole sculpted by Mungo Martin located on the grounds of Rideau Hall. The purple line on the above map shows how to get there via the bike lane along Sussex Avenue , and then back, crossing the MacDonald-Cartier Bridge to the Quebec side of the river, versus the Alexandra Bridge. The grounds of Rideau Hall are open to the public up until 1 hour before sunset.

Rideau Hall
Totem pole by Mungo Martin on the grounds of Rideau Hall

The best time to visit our final spot along the shore of the Ottawa River facing the Museum of History is in the evening as the sun is setting. That’s when the vista of totem poles within the Grand Hall of the museum are most visible from outside the large windows.

Exterior view of the totems within the Grand Hall
Exterior view of the totems within the Grand Hall

Here are views of these majestic sculptures as seen from outside as well.

Grand Hall2

Totems within the Grand Hall
Totems within the Grand Hall

To complete the loop I rode along the Voyageurs Pathway beside the river, then halfway across the Portages Bridge back to Victoria Island.

UPDATE 2018: The NCC has yet to complete repairs along the Voyageurs Pathway caused by the Spring flooding of 2017. The alternative route, as per the orange line on the above map, goes along the very wide Laurier Avenue sidewalk which is being used as an interim multi-use pathway.

Et voila!

Detail of totem on Victoria Island
Detail of totem on Victoria Island by Walter Harris