James Strutt was a Canadian Modernist architect who designed many innovative buldings throughout the National Capital Region. In 1956 he designed and built his family home along Chemin de la Montagne on the western edge of Gatineau Park. Lauded for it’s ingenious use of modular components and the introduction of hyperbolic paraboloids to form the ceiling and roof, the house has won a number of accolades such as the Prix du vingtième siècle by the Royal Architectural Institue of Canada. In the summer of 2015 I visited the The Strutt House for the first time. Little did I know it had just been saved from demolition. The National Capital Commission and the Strutt Foundation, an incredibly dedicated and passionate group of volunteers, had only recently come to an agreement to rehabilitate and preserve this very important modern piece of architecture after it had been vacant for a number of years and fallen into disrepair . The Strutt House has been included in the NCC Confederation Pavillions program and opened to visitors in time for Canada’s 150th birthday celebration. As part of this program you can book a tour of the house with the Strutt Foundation, which I highly recommend.
The following is an update to the initial 2015 ride and includes a vastly improved approach to the site that avoids having to travel along Notch Road and Chemin de la Montagne.
Early Saturday morning four of us met up on the Quebec side of the Portage Bridge where we set out on our adventure. We followed multi-use-paths along the Ottawa River before cutting up along more paths through the southern section of Gatineau Park.
Once arrived at the park info kiosk, indicated by the red marker on the above map, we rode along the Gatineau Parkway, which is always in great condition because they close the Parkway in late Fall every year. Subsequently the Parkway doesn’t have to be plowed and salted which, along with the freezing and thawing cycles throughout the winter, wreak havoc on all our other roads. On Saturday mornings there are lots and lots of cyclists riding along the Parkway so drivers tend to be quite well behaved.
After a healthy climb up past the Pink Lake lookout and beyond we arrived at the top of the Notch Road overpass. There’s a short dirt path off to the right just before the overpass that we followed down to access Notch Road.
Notch Road is a steep narrow incline down to Chemin de la Montagne, however a short distance down from the Parkway there is a an old dirt road with a wide enough opening to push our bikes past the gate.
We rode through the woods along the dirt road until we came to a more recently upgraded section of dirt road that veered off to the left down towards the Strutt House.
Once arrived we were treated to a great tour of the house by Titania and Brian of the Strutt Foundation.
A great ride to a fantastic destination. Can’t get better than that.
Architects on Bikes Checking Out Buildings is a series whereby I invite an architect to suggest a few buildings they admire in the region, then we ride around and check them out! I am very grateful to Mark Glassford for generously accepting my invitation. Joining us was another architect Susan Smith.
Our first building and starting point was the SITE building designed by Ronald Keenberg, located on the southernmost point of the University of Ottawa main campus. It is a located in a tight and unconventional foot print, whose design sympathetically considers all varied approaches, perspectives and vistas. These images are from King Edward Avenue near the main entrance, the approach most accessible by bike.
We headed to the lights across King Edward Ave to Templeton, and then wove our way along quiet streets through Sandy Hill and Lowertown to get to the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, headquarters of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada on Sussex Drive, designed by Fumihiko Maki.
I managed to check out the interior of the building during this years Doors Open event.
We then took the bike path along the MacDonald Cartier Bridge over the Ottawa River to Gatineau, then followed the Voyageurs Pathway east. Once across the Lady Aberdeen Bridge over the Gatineau River we turned right along the path that runs between Rue Jacques Cartier and the waters edge, along which there are multiple opportunities to pause and take in some great views of the Ottawa River.
At the northern tip of Rue Jacques Cartier we headed inland and rode along the bike path beside Montée Paiement, which brought us to our third stop, The Library and Archives Canada Preservation Centre. Also designed by architect Ronald Keenberg, this is an incredible climate controlled facility. There is a bike path that rings the building allowing one to admire it from multiple perspectives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I then wove my way through residential streets of the Lyndwood Village neighbourhood, which has a fine selection of mid-century-modern home designs.
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.
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.
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!
Sundae School is a brand new ice cream parlour on Beechwood Avenue. A couple of Chinatown residents are in need of a bike commute route to get there. The rest of us need a consume route because the ice cream is super delicious!
The blue line on the following map is the route Carla and I rode to get there. The two short purple lines are slight variations heading back.
We begin at the corner of Primrose and Empress, right in front of the Dominican University College.
We rode east along quiet Primrose Avenue, then turned left on to Cambridge St North. This took us to Laurier Street. The segregated bike lane along Laurier starts on the other side of Bronson Avenue. We followed the Laurier Bike Lane all the way to City Hall.
We then turned off Laurier at the exit ramp just before heading over the bridge, which took us down to Queen Elizabeth Drive. There isn’t a bike lane along the short exit ramp, but the lane is quite wide. That said, some do feel safer taking to the very wide sidewalk, while others cut through Marion Dewar Plaza infront of City Hall to Queen Elizabeth Drive to avoid having to ride along the exit ramp. If I was taking kids for an ice cream outing I would do the same. There are three way stop signs to facilitate cyclists and pedestrians wanting to cross Queen Elizabeth Drive to get on to the Rideau Canal Western pathway.
Ww rode over the Rideau Canal via the Corktown Bridge.
We crossed Nicholas Street at the lights and rode through the Ottawa U campus to King Edward Avenue. After crossing King Edward we sailed down Somerset East all the way to the Adawe bike & pedestrian bridge. This section of Somerset has a potpourri of vanishing and re-appearing painted bike lanes. It usually has lots of other cyclists too, as it serves as a well travelled bike link between the two non-car bridges.
Once over the Adawe Bridge we turned north along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway.
The pathway crosses Montreal Road. Many drivers tend to be extra antsy and aggressive at this intersection. Advance cross lights for pedestrians and cyclists would be helpful.
We continued along the pathway, eventually arriving at St Patrick St where we could have turned up onto Beechwood but chose not to. That’s because the section along Beechwood for a couple of blocks immediately north of the river is attrocious for biking – very tight space with parked cars offering lots of dooring potential, and impatient drivers roaring up behind you on adrenaline rushes after flying along the St Patrick Street speedway. Instead we continued along the Rideau River Pathway under St Patrick before turning onto a short gravel path that took us to Crichton Street.
We rode east half a block along Crichton to get to Vaughan Street – a quiet residential street heading north.
This brought us to Putman Avenue, another quiet residential street along which we rode to get to the lights at Beechwood. There are bike lanes along Beechwood north of the intersection which we followed on to our final approach to Sundae School! Upon arrival we locked our steeds to the impressive bike rack located off the path just to the north of the entrance to the ice cream shop.
Once we had finished our well deserved treat (I highly reccomend the chocolate flavour) it was time to head back. Traffic was steady along Beechwood when we left, giving us no chance to dart across the street to the bike lane heading south. Instead we rode east on Joliet, then turned south onto Hector-Hotte Way. We cut through the recently renovated Optimiste Park, and on to Marier Avenue. Turning right on Marier took us straight to the lights across Beechwood and on to Putman.
The only other variation on the route back was getting from the Rideau Canal Pathway to the segregated section of the Laurier Bike Lane that starts west of Elgin street. To get to the inersection of Laurier and Elgin I rode under the Laurier Bridge, then cut through Confederation Park.
The Ottawa Train Station is located a few kilometers outside of downtown. Here is a bike route to get there from Centretown.
I started off from the intersection of Laurier & Bronson avenues and headed east along the Laurier Bike Lane.
After passing in front of City Hall I took the exit towards Queen Elizabeth Drive and got on to the Rideau Canal Western Pathway.
I rode south along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway before crossing the canal over the Corktown bridge.
I traversed Colonel By Drive at the pedestrian lights and rode under the Nicholas Street tunnel, then up through the University of Ottawa campus.
After crossing King Edward Avenue at the traffic lights I rode straight down Somerset East before heading up and over the Rideau River on the Adawe Bridge.
On the opposite side of the river I turned right onto the Rideau River Easten Pathway.
Just after riding under the Queensway along the Rideau River Easten Pathway I turned left onto a packed gravel path that leads to the intersection of Riverside Drive and Tremblay Road.
Crossing the Riverside Drive and Tremblay Road intersection is the least pleasant spot along this route. Something about Riverside Drive seems to compel drivers to become impatient speedsters. The oncoming left lane is also a Queensway off ramp with a yield sign to compel drivers to let you cross. There used to be a path that went over Riverside Drive, thus avoiding this intersection, but it is blocked off (temporarily I hope) as the new transit line is being constructed.
Once through the intersection I continued along the sidewalk that runs parallel to Tremblay before it becomes a paved path leading up to the train station.
I passed all the taxis lining the circular approach to the front of the station to get to where there is a bike rack just to the left of the main doors. This location, along with the security camera hanging right above it, provides me with the confidence to leave my bike locked up to the rack when I go away on a train trip for a few days. It’s a huge improvement from a long time ago when the only option was to lock your bike to a post near the poorly lit car parking lot. That’s where I discovered my bike was stolen after returning from a weekend trip to Montreal. The bike rack out front is much better.
On the way back I retraced my route, except for the section along Laurier in front of City Hall. That’s because when heading west along the Laurier Bike Lane, the safe segregated section only starts at Elgin and Laurier. To get there I cut through Confederation Park as indicated by the purple line on the above map.
If anyone needs a bike route to the station from another area of town, send me a starting reference point by email or via the ‘Leave a comment’ tag.
April 28th is The Day of Mourning honouring workers in Canada who were killed, injured or disabled on the job. The following bike tour visits a number of commemorative sites throughout the region alluding to the Day of Mourning. The route is entirely along bike paths.
The tour begins in Vincent Massey Park overlooking the Rideau River. Just off the bike path near the southern end of the park sits a carved stone memorial commemorating the Day of Mourning. The location of the memorial was chosen for it’s proximity to the Heron Road Workers Memorial Bridge, finished in 1967, one year after a previous bridge at the same site collapsed killing nine workers in the worst construction accident in Ottawa’s history.
The tour heads south, up along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway. It then crosses over Hogs Back Falls before turning north along the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway. Cross the canal over the Hartwell Locks opposite Carleton University.
The ride continues down along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway through the Arboretum and around Dows Lake. A short distance away from the northern edge of Dows Lake on Preston Street a construction site accident occurred on March 23, 2015 – the tragic death of Olivier Bruno who was struck by a falling chunk of ice while inspecting the construction pit.
Continue to ride all the way way downtown along the canal as far as City Hall. Before heading under the Laurier Street bridge, turn off the path onto the plaza infront of City Hall. At the north east corner of the plaza along Laurier you will see the Ottawa Firefighters Memorial. The memorial includes are number of black marble plaques depicting images of firefighters who have perished in the line of duty with accompanying interpretive texts describing their service, some dating back to the mid 1800’s.
Head back to the Rideau Canal Pathway and continue north along the edge of the canal. Just before reaching Sappers Bridge that passes under Wellington Street, you will encounter two short sets of stairs. These have metal troughs along which you can push your bike to avoid having to carry it up the stairs. Ride under the bridge, then down the hill. The canal locks wil be to your right and Parliament Hill high up above to your left. Cross over to the other side of the canal across the second to last set of locks closest to the Ottawa River. Once on the opposite side of the canal you will notice a celtic cross. The engraving in the base of the cross reads,’In memory of 1000 workers and their families who died building this canal’. An accompanying interpretive panel helps to explain the context in which these workers found themselves and the hardships they endured. UPDATE, August 2017 – Unfortunately the cross was knocked over and has yet to be replaced.
The bike tour continues up the hill to the left of the cross. At the top of the hill, turn left onto the bike path and cross the Alexandra Bridge over the Ottawa River along the wooden boardwalk. Once arrived on the Quebec side of the bridge, cross the intersection to the opposite corner where the Sentier de l’Île pathway begins. This path heads inland along Boulevard des Allumettières. Les Allumettières were female workers in the local EB Eddy plant who fabricated wooden matches from the 1800’s up until 1928 when the plant closed. The working conditions they endured were extremely dangerous and unhealthy. An interpretive panel along the path goes into more detail on the incredible challenges Les allumettières encountered.
Thus completes The Day of Mourning bike tour. For those interested in further exploring the path along Sentier de l’ile check out this ride.
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. There are also a number of lesser known Canadian war memorials throughout the capital commemorating groups within the Canadian military, or specific struggles in which Canadian soldiers have served. The following bike tour visits these memorials, starting from the National War Memorial and ending at the National Military Cemetery. This tour was originally posted last Remembrance Day and has been updated as a result of improved bike infrastructure introduced since last year, some detours as a result of construction, and a newly unveiled addition to one of the monuments.
The National War Memorial was unveiled in 1939 to commemorate those who served in the armed forces during World War 1. Subsequently it has come to symbolize the sacrifice of all Canadian Armed Forces in times of war.
Immediately in front of the Memorial is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This tomb contains the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died near Vimy Ridge during the First World War and represents the many Canadian soldiers who have no known grave.
There are bronze panels on the east and west sides of the War Memorial that describe the significance of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the main sculpture – The Response.
Leaving the War Memorial, Head down to the Rideau Canal behind the National Arts Centre, which is presently under renovation. There are two very short flights of steps just before reaching the walkway path along the canal that have troughs to push your bike. Head south along the canal for a short distance until you are past the National Arts Centre and have crossed under the Mackenzie King Bridge and turn in to Confederation Park to where the South African War Memorial is located.
Continue through the park to the sidewalk along Elgin Street where one can see the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument.
The tour crosses Elgin Street at Laurier Street and follows the Laurier Bike Lane heading west before turning north along the bike lane that runs along Bay Street. 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 carved by Ivan Mestvovic in honour of those Canadians who fought in the First World War.
Head west along Wellington, which has a bike lane beginning at Lyon Street. 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 Ottawa River Pathway. From the edge of the path one can see the Royal Canadian Navy Monument across the narrow stretch of river. The site where the monument is located is usually accessible but this year it is inaccessible due to construction.
Head back up to the Portage Bridge and cross over to the Quebec side of the river, then turn 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, located inside the Peace Tower, contains the Books of Remembrance recording every Canadian killed in service from Canada’s first overseas campaign, the Nile Expedition, to the present.
Our route heads back to Ottawa over the Alexandra Bridge to our next stop, The Peacekeeping Monument, dedicated to Canadians who have served as peacekeepers around the world. It is located on a traffic island along Sussex Drive between the national Gallery and the American Embassy. You can meander through the centre of this 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.
Cross Sussex and follow the path overlooking the Rideau Falls. There are three memorials on Green Island located between the two sets of falls. The first is dedicated to members of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery who gave their lives in battle. A sculpture of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, created by artist Ruth Abernethy has been added to the monument this year. John McCrae was a doctor who participated in the First World War. He was moved to write the poem In Flanders Field in memory of fellow Canadian soldiers killed during the Second Battle of Ypres. It is from this poem that the red poppy was drawn to become the symbol of Remembrance Day.
Across the park are 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 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.
Head east along Stanley Avenue and the Rideau River Eastern Pathway. Then take the short gravel path that leads to Crichton Street and weave your way along Vaughan and MacKay Streets to where the bike lane along Beechwood Avenue begins. 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.
the poem In Flanders Fields is cast onto a bronze plaque and mounted on a simple elegant plinth facing the rows of white tombstones.
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.