GCTC Bike-a-Thon

Founded in 1975, the Great Canadian Theatre Company is Ottawa’s longest established independent English professional theatre company. I and a group of fellow GCTC board members with the help of theatre staff, are organising the first annual GCTC Bike-a-Thon to raise funds to go towards mounting upcoming productions. It all takes place early in the morning on Sunday, September 15th.

This Spring I test rode the following route with Eric Coates, GCTC’s new Artistic Director AND avid cyclist. I recently re-visited the route to celebrate the recent launch of our fundraising website and to blab about it in this blog!

It’s a participaction / distance achievement type of bike-a-thon i.e. not a race. Very laid back. In keeping with the bee icon on the cover of next season’s program and posters, all the riders are encouraged to wear whatever yellow and black combo’s they can pull from their wardrobe. Rumour has it some may even sport wings and antenna. The Bike-a-Thon will start from the Irving Greenberg Theatre located at the corner of Holland and Wellington St W, home of the GCTC.

GCTC
GCTC

We will ride east on Wellington and head north on Parkdale to where it joins the Ottawa River Pathway.

Where Parkdale meets the Ottawa River Pathway
Where Parkdale meets the Ottawa River Pathway

Continuing east along the pathway we will be treated to such wonderful sights as this…

Ottawa River
Ottawa River

… and this, where the path follows the edge of the river and continues behind Parliament Hill.

Ottawa River behind Parliament Hill
Ottawa River behind Parliament Hill

We will leave the Ottawa River and climb up beside the Rideau Canal locks between Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier.

Ottawa Locks
Ottawa Locks

After passing under Sapper’s Bridge…

Sappers Bridge
Sappers Bridge

… we will pull up to our good friends at the National Arts Centre.

National Arts Centre
National Arts Centre

Once we’ve paused long enough for everyone to catch their breath after the climb up from the river, we will continue along the Rideau Canal where one is treated to glorious views such as this.

Rideau Canal
Rideau Canal

The path circles around Dows Lake and weaves its way through the Arboretum.

Path on the other side of Dows Lake
Around Dows Lake
Through the Arboretum
Through the Arboretum

One more short climb up beside the locks across from Carleton University before our route takes us through the Experimental Farm.

Experimental Farm
Experimental Farm

A section of the route that runs parallel to Fisher wanders through a stand of tall majestic trees like so.

A little bit of forest for good measure
A little bit of forest for good measure

The route then crosses Carling and follows the bike lanes along Island Park Drive, like so.

Bike lanes along Island Park Drive
Bike lanes along Island Park Drive

A few blocks east along Byron Avenue.

Path along Byron
Path along Byron

Then one block north along Holland, and voila! – We arrive at the finish line back at the GCTC.

FINISH / ARRIVÉE
FINISH / ARRIVÉE

So dear friends, bikers, and readers, if any of you may be interested in helping fund the great art created at the GCTC, as well as indirectly promote biking as a wonderful activity within our area, please visit the Bike-a-Thon site and follow the instructions.

Happy trails!

First Nations – Part II

On January 2nd I described a tour of various locations and monuments within the National Capital Region that are of particular significance or reference to the First Nations. Since then I have learnt of a few others, including one that eluded me on the first tour – the bronze sculpture of an Anishinabe Scout. Here is the route I followed to visit these additional locations.

First stop, 299 Montreal Road where stands the recently completed Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, designed by architect Douglas Cardinal who also designed the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau.

Wabano Centre
Wabano Centre

Second stop is the sculpture of the Anishinabe Scout at the northern tip of Majors Hill Park, tucked behind the small heritage stone building. The first image also shows the statue of Champlain in the distance up on Nepean Point. The sculpture was originally installed at the base of the plinth upon which Champlain stands but was relocated to its present site in 1996 at the request of Ovide Mercredi, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. UPDATE: December 2018 – Just discovered a very good mini-doc on the history of this sculpture.

Anishinabe Scout & Champlain
Anishinabe Scout & Champlain
Anishinabe Scout
Anishinabe Scout

My final stop was along the Ottawa River Pathway, just east of Island Park Drive where this recently installed circular arrangement of stones is located. It is titled the Kitchissippi Medecine Wheel and is the work a fellow named Tim. UPDATE – Summer 2015: The installation is no longer there, but it’s still a great spot to visit, overlooking the Ottawa River.

Kitchissippi Medecine Wheel
Kitchissippi Medecine Wheel

This description of the piece is mounted to a wooden post just to the right of the wheel.

Kitchissippi Medecine Wheel interp

Revisiting the Gatineau Ship Wreck

This blog recently turned one year old (note the date – 2013)! To celebrate I re-visited the site described in the very first post – the shipwreck near the confluence of the Lac Leamy outlet and the Ottawa River. Blue line is how I got there. Purple line is my return trip. UPDATES: 2018 – Red lines on the map are detours required for 2018, 1) behind the Museum of History because the NCC has yet to fix the section of path flooded out in the Spring of 2017, and 2) the section through Jacques Cartier Park because of the Mosaique flower display occupies the majority of the park, blocking off a section of the regular bike path.  

To get there I followed the Voyageurs Pathway along the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River, a section of which takes you along this wonderful raised boardwalk.

Out on the boardwalk.
Out on the boardwalk.

To get to the shipwreck, veer off the paved Voyageurs Pathway to the right onto this gravel path, as indicated by the light blue marker on the above map.

Start of the gravel path
Start of the gravel path

Now you may do as i did and accidentally turn off on a path a little before the one that takes you to the shipwreck, as indicated by the orange line on the map. No worries, it serendipitously takes you a short distance to a spot where you can look across the river towards Rideau Falls, like so.

View across the Ottawa River
View across the Ottawa River

Retrace your treads and continue along the gravel path until you arrive at the turn off towards the shipwreck. I’ve indicated the ship’s location with the red marker on the above map. I haven’t found any historical documentation describing the wreck, however a well placed source suggested it had been illegally parked and the owner didn’t want to move it, so the powers-that-be, or the owner himself, scuttled the ship and left it there for curious onlookers to ponder on an annual basis.

Shipwreck
Shipwreck

After contemplating the mysterious wreck you can rejoin the Voyageurs Pathway. I came across three deer munching grass between the pathway and Boulevard Fournier, including this fellow! The biker in the reflective vest calmly rode by saying, ‘C’est beau la nature, hein?’.

Deer me!
Deer me!

I also recommend another short path along the Gatineau River to where it joins the Ottawa River, as indicated by the purple line on the above map. More great views to be had, such as this one back up the Gatineau.

Looking up river.
Looking up river.

To get back I followed multi-use paths that go around Lac Leamy and along the Ruisseau De La Brasserie Pathway.

So Happy Birthday OttawaVeloOutaouais! Here’s looking forward to many more biking adventures.

Deer 2

40 km Bike Loop to Aylmer, Almost Entirely Along Pathways

Here’s a good early morning loop to Aylmer and back.

.
Every time I see a biker heading over the Pont de la Chaudière I cringe in fear for their safety due to the speeding traffic and limited space. However at 5:30 am it isn’t so bad. It also affords the only view of the Chaudière Falls, an amazing natural formation hidden from all other vantage points by an assortment of crumbling industries.
UPDATE- Summer 2015: The industrial buildings surrounding the falls have been sold to a developer. Plans include providing public access to the site with views onto the Chaudière Falls. See 30 second mark into this promo video.

Chaudière Falls
Chaudière Falls

The Voyageurs Pathway mostly twists and turns along the rivers edge like so, all the way to Aylmer.

Voyageurs Pathway
Voyageurs Pathway

There are a number of clearings along the way where you can pause and ponder the majestic Ottawa River, such as this spot looking out upon the foundations of long abandoned mills.

View out over the Ottawa River
View out over the Ottawa River

This pathway bridge floats above a boggy stretch.

Pathway bridge
Pathway bridge

In the Spring there are a few spots along the path that risk being a bit waterlogged, but they usually can be negotiated along short impromptu desire lines.

The path veers away from the river on the outskirts of Aylmer and continues straight through towards the centre of town.

Heading into Aylmer
Heading into Aylmer

Once in Aylmer I cut north along Front Street to check out these two heritage buildings, the Symmes House and the Parker House, both described on this web site.

Symmes House
Symmes House
Parker House
Parker House

I continued north along Front street to join the Pionneers Pathway. Beyond the two buildings previously mentioned, Front Street is pretty boring, filled with lots of traffic, so after you’ve checked out the two heritage buildings I recommend getting back on the Voyageurs Pathway and continuing around through Parc des Cèdres, as I’ve hi-lited in orange on the above map.

The Pionneer Path follows along the Boulevard des Allumeteries most of the way. It’s more of a commuter route than the Voyageurs Pathway, but still a very pleasant ride.

Pionneers Pathway
Pionneers Pathway

Eventually it veers south through a mixed area of woods and houses and gets a bit confusing as it twists and turns southward. Fear not, it eventually intersects Boulevard des Trembles and its bike path that runs directly east across Boulevard St-Raymond.

Once beyond Boulevard Saint Raymond the path becomes the Moore Farm Estate Pathway. It’s a stone dust path that heads south through this heritage farm. There are a few well preserved old farm buildings on the estate including this fabulous barn.

Old barn
Old barn

Looks like someone has torn off a small piece of barn board to look in.

Side of barn
Side of barn

And this is what they saw.

Inside barn
Inside barn

The Moore Farm Estate Pathway ends at Boulevard Alexandre-Taché, which I qualify as one of the worst roads to bike along in the region, however one need only follow it for a very short distance before cutting through the STO Park-and-Ride parking lot to Boulevard Lucerne. This is a quiet street which brings you to Moussette Park and then on to the Voyageurs Pathway for the ride back in to Ottawa. Rather than crossing back over the Chaudière Bridge, follow the path to and over the Portage Bridge.

Et voila!

Green’s Creek in the East End

Our three big rivers – the Ottawa, Rideau, and Gatineau – get all the attention when it comes to local waterways, however there’s a little creek in the east end full of charm and grace that quietly weaves it’s way north. I was very fortunate to happen upon a short section of it by accident during one of my rides. You can too. Here’s how.

This all happened while on a bike errand to the Home Depot in the east end. I decided to make the most of it and explore a trail noted on Google Maps a bit further east off Innes Road as it heads through the Greenbelt.

Trailhead off Innes Road looking west
Trailhead off Innes Road looking west

While venturing along, I noticed another path turning off to the right. It lead me over this old abandoned train bridge…

Old train bridge over Greens Creek
Old train bridge over Greens Creek

… winding up at the back of this big box store that fronts onto Innes Road…

Back of the big box store
Back of the big box store

…so I turned around.

Crossing back over the train bridge I noticed another unmarked path that continued along the bank of Green’s Creek. Couldn’t resist. Now this is pretty much a foot path, so I recommend either walking/carrying you bike most of the way, or locking your bike to a tree and exploring by foot. You will not be disappointed.

Path along Greens Creek
Path along Greens Creek
Little falls along Greens Creek
Little falls

Along the shore there are many hints that this was not always a predominantly natural environment, as suggested by these remains.

Twisted metal, concrete and brick
Twisted metal, concrete and brick

The path eventually veers away from the creek as it comes upon the Trans-Canada Highway, and ends a bit further along at some train tracks.

Where the path ends
Where the path ends

I turned around and headed back to the marked trail, which takes you between two farmers fields like so.

Trail between fields
Trail between fields

This leads to the wider stone dust Prescott Russell rail-to-trail path that you can follow all the way to Quebec.

Rail-to-Trail
Rail-to-Trail

I headed back along Anderson Road.

Fantastic bike loop through Gatineau!…usually…

This route is one of my favorites through Gatineau because it is entirely along bike paths… most of the time… but not right now. The swollen Ottawa River has flooded sections of the path near and around Lac Leamy. Another section beyond the lake is closed due to construction of rapid transit facilities, forcing one to detour along a road. This section of path will be reopened in the Fall. HOWEVER, it’s still a fine ride, which will become great once the water recedes, and fantastic when they finish building the rapid transit.

Blue line is where I biked. Red lines are the flooded sections of path. Orange line is the section of path blocked off until the Fall.

The tunnel where the Ruisseau-de-la-Brasserie Pathway goes under the Autoroute de la Gatineau is flooded. I rode through and got my feet soaked.

Flooded tunnel under the autoroute
Flooded tunnel under the autoroute

The section of path along the eastern shore of Lac Leamy is flooded as well, but avoidable by biking inland to the parking lot.

Flooded shores of Lac Leamy
Flooded shores of Lac Leamy

The Leamy Creek Pathway weaves it’s way through the woods like so.

Sentier du Ruisseau-Leamy Creek Pathway
Sentier du Ruisseau-Leamy Creek Pathway

Along the Gatineau Park Pathway heading south there are a number of huge impressive boulders like this one gathered at the top of a hill. I’m guessing they were dragged there by a glacier.

Sisyphus' training grounds
Sisyphus’ training grounds

I was worried the Voyageur Pathway along the Ottawa River above the Chaudiere dam would be flooded as well, but it wasn’t, so smooth sailing all the way home.

O-Train closed?! Bike instead. Here’s how.

The O-Train is shut down until September – YIKES!
Here is a suggested bike route alternative for O-Train commuters.
Blue line is the north-south voyage, Green line is a slight variation heading the other way, red line is another option.
UPDATE June 2014 – The Sawmill Creek has been extended, simplifying the route described in the original post substantially. I have indicated the extension on the map below in purple, and describe it in detail in this June 2014 post.

First, the north-south journey. The new bike path along the O-Train from the Ottawa River to Dow’s Lake officially opens May 7th but it is possible to access and travel the length of the path, no problemo.

Bike path beside the O-Train  tracks
Bike path beside the O-Train tracks

At Carling Ave the path continues across four lanes and a meridian.
There’s a traffic light a short distance west at Champagne Ave S where one can cross.

Path continuing on the other side of Carling
Path continuing on the other side of Carling

Once you reach Prince of Wales Drive cut through the Arboretum. Don’t let this kooky sign discourage you.

Entrance to the Arboretum
Entrance to the Arboretum

Cross the canal at Hartwell’s Locks across from Carleton University.

Next, bike through the Carleton campus and along Bronson Avenue over the Rideau River. There is a bike lane along Bronson, but if the speeding traffic along this stretch makes you uncomfortable then choose the alternate route hi-lited in red on the map. It takes you along the canal and over Hogs Back Falls which I describe in more detail on this post. That said, I felt safe riding along the bike lane on Bronson. I think my choice of clothing which had a passing resemblance to many a peace officers bike uniform (bright yellow bike jacket, black rain pants and blue helmet) may have helped encourage the traffic to slow down – note the brake lights on these passing cars.

Bike lane along Bronson
Bike lane along Bronson

The section along Bronson is short. Once over the Rideau River, take the first exit and follow along quiet bike paths which affords you this interesting perspective of the Edward Drake Building.

Edward Drake Building
Edward Drake Building

Crossing Heron Road is a bit tricky because the path on the opposite side isn’t obviously marked. Cross at the nearest traffic lights a short distance west and come back on the other side, where you can access the path beside the train tracks and continue on, like so. This is the Heron road O-Train stop.

Bike path, south side of Heron Road.
Bike path, south side of Heron Road.

This path brings you to the Brookfiled Road round-about. Continue along Flannery Drive, then turn left on Springland Drive. This train track underpass at the end of Springland Drive joins up with Cromwell Drive on the opposite side.

Tunnel under train tracks
Tunnel under train tracks

Meander along and turn left on Avoncourt Way to Walkley Road.
Walkley isn’t great to bike along – 4 lanes and usually lots of traffic. There is some shoulder room, providing a fine opportunity for the authorities to install bike lanes similar to those previously travelled along Bronson to make this safer and more accessible. This route requires travelling along Walkley for a short distance only, so walking your bike on the sidewalk would be an alternate option if one doesn’t feel comfortable biking this stretch.

Walkley Road
Walkley Road

Once on the bridge overlooking the Airport Parkway you will find yourself looking down at the bike path. To get there you can either carry your bike down the covered OC Transpo stairwell, or take the public elevator on the opposite side of Walkley.

Walkley Road stairwell
Walkley Road stairwell

Now it is possible to take the bus to satisfy the O-Train blues, but I’ve heard the service isn’t quite as dependable as the train…

...oops...
…oops…

.. and you will discover biking is a great way to go.

Continuing along the path you will happen upon and ride along the Sawmill Creek Wetland, a fantastic series of ponds and a natural habitat for all sorts of birds. Red winged blackbirds were in abundance this weekend.

Sawmill Creek Wetlands
Sawmill Creek Wetlands

If you’ve ever headed to the airport you may have noticed this structure being built along the Aviation Parkway. It’s eventually going to be a public pathway over the Parkway!

Path over the Aviation Parkway in construction.
Path over the Aviation Parkway in construction.

This north-south route ends at Hunt Club Road, just beyond the last O-Train stop. There you may see this fantastic old telegraph pole entirely draped in vines.

A train of vines
A train of vines

The ride heading back is very similar with one major variation. To get to the bike lane heading north on Bronson you need to get to the other side. I followed the road that goes down from the Edward Drake Building and circles under the bridge. Unfortunately it also becomes the Bronson south off ramp towards Riverside Drive, another four lane road. Once having biked under Bronson I carried my bike up these stairs to get to the Bronson bike lane heading north.

Bronson Bridge stairs
Bronson Bridge stairs

SO, for the south-north trip I suggest ignoring Bronson altogether and taking the red route shown on the above map, from the Brookfield round-about.

Dear O-train commuters, I am quite confident that, after a test ride or two, you will be convinced biking is a great alternative and, dare I say, you may never go back…