The recently completed section of bike path along the shoreline of the Ottawa River, just east of the confluence of the Gatineau and Ottawa rivers, allow for spectacular views across the water. Previously this stretch of Rue Jacques-Cartier consisted of two narrow lanes with lots of potholes and speeding traffic, making it a challenge for cyclists to concentrate on anything but survival. Now users of all ages visit and cycle along the shoreline, testament to the huge success of this new bike infrastructure.
The blue line on the following map shows how to get there entirely along bike paths starting from Centretown in Ottawa. The purple line is the new stretch of path along Rue Jacques-Cartier, described in more detail below.
The re-design of the shoreline has included gathering nodes for people to pause and take in the scenery. Many of the stops have interpretive panels that describe the history of the area.
The design of the various furnishings appear to have been inspired by the lumber industry so prevalent in Point-Gatineau’s past.
Not only has this new bike infrastructure created a fantastic destination well worth the visit, it also provides an important link to the Route Verte recreational path network that runs across Quebec. It also encourages bike commuting for hundreds of residents living in Pointe-Gatineau and beyond.
Stromatolites are eerily stunning fossils dating back to the emergence of life on earth. The Ottawa-Gatineau Geoheritage Project describes them as ‘biosedimentary structures built up during sedimentation by cyanobacteria and blue-green algae’. The following is a bike tour of a few examples of Stromatolites visible on both sides of the Ottawa River.
Choosing the Portage Bridge as our starting point, we crossed over the Ottawa River to Gatineau and rode upstream along the Voyageurs Pathway.
Our first stop is located just off the pathway immediately west of the Champlain Bridge. These stromatolites are visible when water levels are low in the summer and fall. It’s the most impressive display of these fossils in the region.
Another example of a few local Stromatolites visible in cross section can be found on the Ottawa side of the river at the eastern tip of Westboro Beach. To get there we followed the bike lanes over the Champlain Bridge back to Ottawa, then continued upstream along the Ottawa River Pathway to Westboro Beach. There are bike racks in front of the beach pavilions if one prefers avoiding having to push their bike through the sand.
Our final stop is located along the bus transitway near Roosevelt Avenue. To get there we took the tunnel under the SJAM parkway at Westboro Beach, then followed Kirchoffer Avenue to the pedestrian bridge over the OC Transpo transitway. From the opposite side of the pedestrian bridge one can see a layered section of Stromatolites exposed at the top of the stone channel that was cut to create the transitway.
To get back to our starting point we retraced our treads along Kirchoffer to Westboro Beach, then rode back along the Ottawa River Pathway to the Portage Bridge – a rock & roll tour almost entirely along pathways!
More on Stromatolites can be found by clicking here or on any of the Geoheritage Project links hi-lited in the above post.
UPDATE – September 2019: Here’s a recent CBC post about the Stromatolites on the Quebec side that includes a great interview between Giacomo Panico of the show In Time and Out and Allan Donaldson, a retired professor in the earth sciences department at Carleton University.
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.
We started off from the Tech Wall, corner of Bronson and Slater.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The path crosses under Highway 5 for a second time. This is where our next legal graffiti walls are located.
The legal walls in Gatineau are identified by signs such as this one above the tunnel under Highway 5.
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.
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.
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.
Of all the Costco’s in the region, the one in Gatineau is the most accessible by bike from neighbourhoods in and around downtown Ottawa. A couple of riders who regularly pedal out there were very kind to let me tag along on their latest shopping adventure.
Because everything is sold in bulk at Costco, I put out a request for suggestions on which bike trailers would best be able to handle a big load. The overwhelming favourite were those manufactured by Wike out of Guelph Ontario. Giacomo was very kind to lend me his Heavy Duty Flatbed Bike Trailer he uses to roast his Bike Hibachi Pigskin Pork Tenderloin. It performed extremely well on this Costco test ride.
Here’s how it all panned out. Blue line is the way we got there. Purple line is how we got back.
We started off from the Woonerf on Cambridge St North in Centretown.
We accessed the Ottawa River Pathway at the bottom of Nanny Goat Hill and followed multi-use paths all the way to Pointe-Gatineau on the east side of the Gatineau River.
From there we wove our way along paths through Parc la Baie and combination of quiet residential streets. We encountered a bit of a hic along the path entering Parc la Baie where car discouraging bollards weren’t wide enough to let two of our trailers through. This was a minor irritant as we were able to hoist our empty trailers over the bollards. The only busy intersection was across Chemin de la Savane as we approached our destination.
After a stop at the La trappe à fromage, we made our way a through the huge adjacent Costco parking lot to the bike racks at the entrance. The store has a tall extended entrance canopy that smells of car tires (imagine eau de Canadian Tire).
I loaded as much as I would have on a typical car run and even had room for more, especially if I had brought rear rack panniers.
Mr One Wheel Drive managed to load 237 lbs (!) on his custom made trailer, like so.
The bike path along Boulevard de la Gappe described in this post passes by the Costco one block north so we followed it on the way back.
I managed to click this final image as we headed over the Rapid-Transit bridge before it got dark.
The path network gets a little labyrinthian from Lac Leamy to downtown Gatineau. I’ve heard all efforts at introducing directional signage through this maze have been covered up with spray paint, so a couple of dry runs with Google Maps in hand is highly recommended.
Update – Patrick filmed a subsequent trip we made to Costco following the purple route, which turned out like so!
Micro-brewing is taking off in and around Ottawa. On our First Annual Ottawa/Gatineau Microbrew Bike Tour we visited a number of breweries in the south, east and central areas of Ottawa and Gatineau. This year’s tour focussed on breweries in the east end of Ottawa and one in the Byward Market. Here’s how it went. Blue line on the map below is the route followed. Purple line is a section of route originally plotted, and one I would ride once the bike lanes along Innes Road have been returned to their former glory post road construction. The red line on the map is a section we should have taken.
Before heading out we (Robert, Glenn & I) met up at Raw Sugar for coffee beside the Chinatown arch.
Off we rode to our first stop – Bicycle Craft Brewery on Industrial Road. Great name! The last bit of approach to the brewery along Industrial Road was treacherous. Not only is it filled with speeding trucks and cars, the little shoulder room available to avoid them speeding up behind us had pot holes and sewer grates with slots lined up in the direction of travel. Fortunately the person who greeted and served us is a cyclist, and she told on how to avoid Industrial Avenue. That’ll be the red line on the above map. ie, instead of turning left on Russell road from Coronation Avenue and riding along Industrial, it would have been better to go right on Russell then turn down the lane through the parking to the front of the brewery.
Bicycle Craft Brewery has a bike rack built for three located beside the front door.
The front of house space is very welcoming with various bike memorabilia adorning the walls. There are also chairs, a wood table to gather around, and a big cosy couch. We had small tastings of a few of their fine brews, my preference being the Crimson Cascade, so I bought a half-growler to enjoy back home. I wrapped it up in a small towel and stuffed it in my rear pannier.
On our way out, to avoid Industrial Road, we accessed Russell the way we should have on the way in, then cut through Everest which brought us to the sidewalk on St Laurent Boulevard. Looking across St Laurent we noticed a storefront sign for North of 7 Distillery, so we popped in and see what they were up to. Super friendly owner greeted us. He and another fellow working there shared stories on how the distillery came to be and offered taste sips of a couple their wares. The Triple Bean Gin was very tasty, so I bought a bottle top take home. Carla is very fussy about her gin and she really liked this one.
We rode through the parking lot to get to the bike path that runs along Innes Road as far as the Trans Canada Highway. There are no bike lanes or even sidewalks along the bridge that goes over the Trans-Canada and cars fly on and off the ramps to and from the highway. To avoid this terrible section we turned north on Star Top Road, then south east along Cyrville Road over the Trans Canada. Cyrville is not a great road to ride along either but is the least dangerous option of the two, with no highway on and off ramps to worry about. On the east side of the bridge there is a bike path that starts beside the entrance to the Home Depot to Innes Road.
Normally there is a bike lane on both sides of Innes east of the Trans Canada, however some serious road construction had the east bound bike lane all dug up, so rather than riding along Innes, as suggested by the purple line on the above map, we cut up the path that to the Transitway pedestrian bridge over the Queensway.
We then rode along Ogilvie Road, which has a bike lane as far as Blair Place. Sans bike lane, riding along Ogilvie is quite unpleasant. Fortunately Robert grew up in this part of town and was able to navigate a safe route along quiet streets from Jasmine Crescent to the Dominion City Brewing Co. on Canotek Road.
Some very friendly people at Dominion allowed us to sample a few small samplings of their brews, my favourite of which was the Two Flags IPA, so I bought a mini-growler. Dominion is also a supporter of the arts. They sponsored the opening of Brian Doyle’s Up To Low performing at Arts Court.
In the parking lot outside the brewery sat the recently Rico Peru food truck. Normally they are located on Montreal Road, but on this fine Saturday Dominion welcomed them to set up in their parking lot, so we sampled their tasty menu. I didn’t have the cerviché, but Glenn said it was really good.
Our next stop was just around the corner at Broken Stick Brewing Company. After a couple of mini-samplings I chose the TPA as my favourite and stocked up on a small growler of the brew.
Final destination – Lowertown Brewery in the Market. Right beside Broken Stick Brewery there is a path that leads on to my favourite local multi-use path, the Ottawa River Pathway.
This we followed all the way to Rockcliffe and then wove our way through Lowertown to the brewery on York Street. This is a restaurant brewery that, at the time of our visit, were a couple of months away from meeting the qualifications to sell their brews to take home, so, it being our final destination of the day, we indulged and settled in for a pint on the patio.
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.
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.
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.
I rode the length of the Pinecrest Creek Pathway to Woodroffe Avenue.
On the south side of Woodroffe the path continues as the Experimental Farm Pathway.
On the south side of Maitland the path weaves it’s way up through a wooded area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are views of these majestic sculptures as seen from outside as well.
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.
Manotick is a community first settled in the 1830’s located 30 km’s up the Rideau River. This past Sunday I and a group of fine people rode there. It was a great outing. Blue line on the following map shows how we got there. Green lines are variations we took on the return trip. Purple and orange lines are suggested minor deviations to the chosen routes.
JP and I started off at 8:30 am from the Chinatown Arch in Centretown.
We headed down Somerset to get on the O-Train Path, over to Prince of Wales Drive, and through the farm before joining the Experimental Farm Pathway where we met up with three more riders -Glenn, Heather and Chris. We cut south from the Experimental Farm Pathway through a series of paths and streets to Capilano Drive, a more detailed description of which can be found within a previous post, by clicking here.
We headed south down Birchwood off of Capilano and continued straight through back ends of mall parking lots, mostly empty on Sunday mornings.
To avoid having to ride through the parking lot, there is also the option of taking the path up behind the parking lot, as suggested by the orange line on the above map. This path starts off as gravel before becoming a well trodden desire line that ends at Meadowlands Drive. A hundred meters to the right along Meadowlands takes you to the lights that leads across to Grant Carmen Drive.
We then kept heading south along Grant Carmen Drive which had very little traffic, all the while avoiding crazy dangerous strip-mall Merivale Road, one block west.
South of Viewmount Drive the road morphs into a multi-use path that cuts through to Colonnade Road.
We rode along Colonnade road to Merivale Road. UPDATE – Fall 2015: A bike lane has been installed along Colonnade Drive between Merivale and the path – a huge improvement to the shoulder less section it once was.
We rode along dreaded Merivale Road to get under the train tracks, however there fortunately is a paved portion between the curb and the sidewalk one may to choose to ride along to get to Woodfield Drive on the other side of the tracks.
Just off Woodfield there’s a path that runs all the way west to the signalized Hunt Club Road crossing. It’s a shaded path that isn’t cleared in the winter, so we encountered a few patches of slush and ice. We decided to ride along quiet Benlea Drive that runs parallel to the path.
The path continues behind the Nepean Sportsplex, then runs south along Woodroffe. The paths we followed all the way from the Sportsplex to and through Barrhaven were cleared all winter so no slush to worry about.
We crossed Woodroffe and continued along the path on the north side of Fallowfield Road for a short distance before crossing Fallowfield at Via Park Place. We got on to the path that continues southwest then south beside the transit way all the way to Berrigan Drive.
Followed a road link between Berrigan and Strandherd Drive. Rode west on Strandherd, south on Greenbank, then east on Marketplace Avenue through the big box mall parking. East end of the parking there’s a short path link to roads that join up with the bike lane that runs along Longfields Drive.
In retrospect I would recommend turning off the path and onto Longfields further north as suggested by the purple line on the above map, thus avoiding busy Strandherd, Greenbank and the big box store parking lot.
After riding down Longfields and crossing the Jock River we joined a gravel path that weaves it’s way in and through varied wooded areas along the shore the river. This path went under Prince Of Wales Drive and then continued along the Rideau River. We had to contend with a few remaining minor slushy and icy patches along the path but that just added to the sense of adventure.
Bit of a challenge crossing the stream in Beryl Gaffney Park, but nary a soaker was had!
We rode along quiet streets and paths the length of Long Island, then crossed back onto the west side to seek out the French Café, where a colleague and friend of mine, Judy deBoer is showing some of her paintings. JP had to head back after grabbing a snack, while the rest of us settled down for a yummy treat and the biggest cappuccinos I’ve ever seen.
Heather plotted a great route for the return journey which included a short side trip that rode a local dam.
We had hoped to ford the stream that runs through Gaffney Park at another spot closer to the Rideau but the walking stones were completely submerged. It’s a great short portage in dryer seasons.
Our return journey also took us further down the Rideau River along a path that goes under the fabulous Vimy Memorial Bridge.
On the north side of the bridge the path turns into a wooden boardwalk that weaves it’s way through the Chapman Mills Conservation Area. Lots of pedestrians on the boardwalk so be prepared for a slow leisurely pace through this area.
We pedalled along quiet Winding Way before cutting inland through quiet residential streets and parks before joining up with the bike path that runs along Woodroffe Avenue.
We parted company with Heather and Chris at West Hunt Club Road, which seems a fitting spot to sign off.
For an alternate route to Manotick that runs along Prince of Wales Drive heading out of Ottawa and back on the east side of the river, click here.