The Timber Route

The  Ottawa River timber trade was the nineteenth century production of squared timber along with other wood products. As the major industry of the historical colonies of Upper and Lower Canada, the timber trade was instrumental in the establishment of communities on both sides of the river we now know as the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau. This bike tour visits various interpretive displays along the Ottawa River that help describe the history and significance of the timber trade in our region. It’s a 3km ride along bike paths and multi-use pathways.

Our ride begins just off the Ottawa River Pathway behind the War Museum. Here you will find an interpretive display describing the 19th century origins of the local lumber industry. You can also stand on a recreated crib which was a section of a timber raft. Interpretive panels describe how in the 1800’s you would have seen giant rafts made up of cribs in the river before you. The interpretive panels also describes how these timber rafts, composed of hundreds of logs, would be temporary floating villages for the Raftsmen bringing the timber down the Ottawa River.

Interpretive display along the Ottawa River Pathway behind the War Museum

Heading down river along the Ottawa River Pathway you will happen upon Mill Street Brew Pub located in an old grist mill that was built in 1842. On the east side of the building, looking out across the river, you will see a timber slide. This is where the aforementioned cribs would float down to avoid the Chaudière Falls. In 1972 the V shaped slide visible from this spot replaced the wider square shaped slide that originally accomodated the cribs. There are no interpretive panels at this location, however more on the history of the slide can be found by clicking here.

Timber slide visible

Ride under the Portage Bridge and follow the paths that circle up and onto the bridge. Take the segregated bike lane across the bridge to the Gatineau side of the river, then turn down to the right along the Voyageurs Pathway that runs along the waters edge.

Along this pathway you will happen upon this interpretive panel describing the history of this shoreline, including the period when the lumber trade was dominant.

History of the shoreline

A short distance further along the path you will find this vertical display celebrating log drivers whose job was to break up piles of logs to avoid log jams.

Log Drivers

Continue along the Voyageurs Pathway under the Alexandra Bridge into Jacques Cartier Park. A short distance into the park you will find a display of three interpretive panels just off the pathway, one of which hi-lites the story of Big Joe Mufferaw, a legendary lumberman from the era of the timber trade.

Big Joe Mufferaw

Further along the pathway beside a small heritage house called Maison Charon you will find another display of three panels, one of which hi-lites Philemon Wright the first settler who started up the local lumber trade. Included in this display is a scale reproduction of a broad axe. This important tool was used to square logs so that they may be assembled into crips and rafts before floating down river.

Philemon Wright

For those who would like to read more about the era of the Ottawa River timber trade I recommend checking out this link.

Et voila! Happy trails.

10 Year Anniversary!

It’s been 10 years since I began this blog. It started out as a fun efort to share bits about biking around the area. A few years prior I had set out on a mission to ride all the streets in the region at least once. After happening upon so many amazing discoveries, I wanted to share a few right here. All good and fun, and I got better, spurred on by positive feedback. Then the big epiphany hit. While attending a Bike Ottawa annual general meeting, a German academic doing research in some American university made a presentation on bike stats from cities around the world. Amongst a dazzling array of anecdotal tid-bits, the ultimate stat he spouted was, the safest cities to bike in have the most per-capita cyclists. i.e. strength in numbers. So now I had a mission – to try to help boost the number of local riders! And save the planet, but I digress. So I decided to post more detailed safe cycling routes for locals and tourists alike, and I also tossed in ‘Hey, need a safe route? send me your start & finish & I’ll figure it out!‘, for which people were extremely appreciative.

Well, much has changed over time. For example, Bike Ottawa has developed an amazing tool that allows you to plot out the safest route from A to B, based on your comfort level. There are also other extremely passionate local cycling advocates like this guy who are doing a fantastic job keeping us informed about changes and needs required to our local cycling infrastructure.

So, my posts will mostly go back to ressembling its origins, i.e., shorter, a bit more anecdotal, and spontaneous. I’ll still post longer routes when inspiration hits, and offer suggestions on routes when requested. I hope pertinent stuff still comes of it.

Cycle on!

The Gatineau Ship Wreck! (re-visited)

The very first bike route posted on Ottawa Velo Outaouais was to a little known ship wreck in Gatineau. Time to re-visit the ride to see how they, (both the route and the wreck), have survived the vagaries of time. Although the last few years have been rough on the route, with Jacques Cartier Park being closed off to recooperate from that wacky topiary festival a few years back, and the boardwalk along the river blocked for repairs, I am pleased to announce that all is clear. Here we go!

Our ride begins in Centretown, beside the Chinatown arch. Head north along Cambridge St N which eventually veers right to become Laurier Ave before arriving at Bronson Avenue. The rest of this ride is entirely along bike lanes or paths. Follow the route indicated on the map to get across the Ottawa River over the Portage Bridge.

Once across the bridge, turn right along the Voyageurs Pathway where you will experience the most picturesque view of Parliament Hill as you ride down towards the waters edge.

Parliament Hill from the Voyageurs Pathway

Continue along the Voyageurs Pathway through Jacques Cartier Park, and then along the aforementioned boardwalk that floats above the shoreline.

Boardwalk along the Ottawa River just east of Maison Charron

Continue along Voyageurs that weaves it’s way for a nice stretch until you happen upon a gravel path leading off to the right. Turn onto this gravel path. If you pass the big green NCC sign, you’ve gone too far.

Turn on to this gravel path before you get to that big green NCC FIP (Federal Identity Program) sign barely visible in this photo

There are two right turns off this gravel path, the first of which leads to a very nice lookout across the river. Definitely worth visiting if you have the time, but you want the next exit that’ll get you to where we wanna go, which runs along the Lac Leamy discharge into the Ottawa River. Further along this path, closer to the Ottawa River you will discover THE SHIPWRECK!

Gatineau Shipwreck!

According to this source, this ship was originally launched in 1959. In the 70’s it was converted into a a disco-casino pleasure cruise, then in 1976 into a floating cottage. It caught fire in the 80’s and waspulled to this location. So, thar she lies…. for the rest of us to enjoy!

This summer someone has been using the wreck to moore a sad little white power boat, conveniently blocked by shrubbery in the above photo.

Et voila!

Heading back to Ottawa, one may retrace the route that got you to the wreck, or you can continue north via the blue line on the above map. If you choose to take this route, which is really great and follows paths the entire way, I highly reccomend downloading the above map and checking your progress via GPS as you will encounter many merges and turns with minimal directional signage.

Happy trails!

Annie’s Ride! – Thorncliffe Park to Carleton U

Annie is heading to Carleton to do her MBA – way to go Annie! The cost of parking at Carleton is NUTS and vehicular access is a dog’s breakfast and will be for the next couple of years as they go about expanding the O-Train through the campus. So, with these considerations in mind, along with all the other bonus benefits that come with pedal power, biking is a very appealing option. Here is a 13km ride which takes around 45 minutes at a leisurely pace.

Our ride begins at the corner of Rothbury Crescent and Provender Avenue.

START!

Head south on Provender. Just as it bends left, continue straight along a concrete pathway that weaves up to Foxview Place.

Path from Provender leading up to Foxview

Turn left and continue south for a short distance and hop onto the bike lane heading west along Montreal Road.

Bike lane along Montreal Road

Once arrived at the Aviation Parkway, cross over to the opposite corner.

Aviation Pathway on the south-west corner of Montreal Road & Aviation Parkway

Follow the Aviation Pathway for a short distance, then follow the sign pointing towards Clarke Avenue.

Exit off Aviation Pathway towards Clarke Ave

Ride through this quiet neighbourhood, first along Clarke, then Claude St, and finally Mutual St.

Lovely, lovely, lovely

This brings you to St Laurent Boulevard. St Laurent is a busy multi-lane artery often filled with speeding traffic. Ride north for a short block to the lights across to Guy St if traffic is light.

View along St Larent to the lights at Guy St

Alternatively, if traffic is heavy and you don’t feel safe you can walk your bike along the sidewalk to the lights at MacArthur. On the return trip, which I have indicated by an orange line on the map for this section, there is a bike lane from MacArthur to Mutual Street heading north. Why the city didn’t extend this bike lane as far as the lights at Guy St is baffling, especially since it leads straight to Rideau High School and would help encourage student cycling.

Follow Guy St then May St, which are quiet residential streets, to the segregated bike lane along MacArthur. These bike lanes were introduced just a few years ago and are a great addition to the east/west bike infrastructure.

MacArthur bike lane

Ride along MacArthur all the way to it’s western end, then cross the lights at North River Road through the parking lot that links to the Rideau River Eastern Pathway.

Rideau River Eastern Pathway

Follow this pathway to the Adawe Bridge that crosses over the Rideau River.

Riding over the Adawe Bridge

Continue straight heading west along Somerset St East. There aren’t bike paths along Somerset, but instead there is a ‘road diet’ whereby a car is expected to use the shared centre lane when passing a cyclist. Not sure if this is the best solution along most roads but I find in this instance it works quite well.

Somerset road diet in action

Unfortunately the road diet dissapears for a couple of short sections heading up the hill to King Edward Ave. Hélas, another example of Ottawa’s tendency towards missing bike links. Sidewalk it if you don’t feel safe.

The disapearing bike lane along Somerset St E

Cross the lights at King Edward and head through the Ottawa U campus along Marie Curie.

Bike laneing right on through Ottawa U campus

Ottawa U deserves kudos for implementing some pretty good bike infrastructure over the last few years. Continue straight where Marie Currie ends.

Heading straight where Marie Currie ends

This gets you to a funky twisty path down and under the O-Train tracks to Colonel By Drive.

Head down the twisty path where that motorised unicycle dude is heading
Riding under the O-Train to Colonel By Drive

The cross lights at Colonel By Drive lead you to the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway. Turn left onto this pathway that hugs the canal.

Ridea Canal Eastern Pathway

Continue along the pathway past Dow’s Lake all the way to the Hartwell Locks.

Approaching Hartwell Locks

Once arrived at the locks cross Colonel By Drive onto the Carleton University campus.

Exit off Rideau Canal Pathway, across Colonel By Drive, and onto campus

Et voila!

Biking to the Ottawa Tool Library from Centretown

The Ottawa Tool Library has re-opened for curbside pick-up at their new location, 877A Boyd Avenue. YEAH!! Here is a bike route to get there from Centretown. 

The Ottawa Tool Library is a great resource for those who wish to borrow tools for all sorts of jobs! They’ve got an extensive inventory of items to choose from including a fine selection of bike tools. They also have a great Wike bike flatbed trailer members can borrow to transport big items that won’t fit into your panniers.

This 6km route begins along the bike path at the corner of Albert Street and City Centre Avenue on the north side of Albert.

Head west along the bike path.

 

Bike path at Albert St & City Centre Ave looking west along Albert

Just before O-Train’s Bayview Station the path dips down to the right then continues west.

Bike path dipping right before Bayview Station

Continue straight until you reach Bayview Station Road. Turn left under the bridge then right along the bike path that continues west along Scott Street.

View from wher the bike path meets Bayview Station Rd to where the path continues along Scott St

Follow the path along Scott St all the way to Churchill Ave.

Path running along Scott St

Scott St ends at Churchill but the path continues on the other side beside the transitway.

Crossing Churchill to continue along the path heading west

Continue along the path for a short distance as far as Roosevelt Avenue, then turn left onto Roosevelt. 

Bike path along the transit way where it meets Roosevelt. Turn left onto Roosevelt.

Follow Roosevelt all the way to it’s southern end where it veers right.

Biking along calm residential Roosevelt Street.

Immediately after Roosevelt veers right, turn left onto Cole Avene and follow it to Carling Avenue.

where Roosevelt curls right, turn left onto Cole

On the opposite side of Carling Ave, Cole continues as Clyde Avenue. Clyde is a busy road with trucks and traffic. That’s because it is one of the few roads in this area that passes under the Queensway. Segregated bike lanes should be installed along Clyde as it is an important link for cyclists to communities south of the Queensway, as well as to the Experimental Farm Recreational Pathway. Unfortunately it’s present busy and crumbling condition makes it less than desireable for cycling. 

As such, once across Carling this route recommends walking your bike along the sidewalk a short half block west and turning left onto Campbell Avenue, versus riding down Clyde. 

Sidewalk along Carling to Campbell Ave.

Ride down Campbell as far as it goes to Dobbie Street. 

Biking down Campbell Ave

Turn right onto Dobbie which will bring you straight to the Tool Library!

Welcome to the Ottawa Tool Library!

There aren’t any bike racks installed on site or anywhere close by. This shouldn’t be an issue while the library is operating in curbside pick-up mode, however one of their priorities is to acquire and install a bike rack as soon as possible. As a not-for-profit group The Ottawa Tool Library relies heavily on donations of tools and materials, so if anyone has a lead on a bike rack please let them know via this link.

If anyone needs a bike route to the Ottawa Tool Library from anywhere else in town please send me a starting cross street at OttawaVeloOutaouais@gmail.com I’ll figure out a route and post it here.

Happy trails & tooling!

The Waterfall Tour

Here is a 12 km ride almost entirely along bike paths that visits three fine examples of waterfalls, starting at Hog’s Back Falls and ending at the Rideau Falls, with a stop at the Chaudière Falls along the way. I have also included a 12km return route along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway back to Hog’s Back Falls for those who want to do a loop.

Hog’s Back Falls was originally a set of rapids known as the Three Rocks Rapids but the building of the Rideau Canal created the more spectacular version we have now. More on the transformation from rapids to falls can be found in these two links:A Rapid Ride: The Billings shoot Hogs Back “Falls”.  Washed Away The Story of the Building of the Hogs Back Dam.

Hog’s Back Falls from the walkway along Hog’s Back Bridge

Following the route proposed on the above map brings you to the Chaudière Falls, named so by Samuel de Champlain who noted its form ressembled a boiling chaudière, or cauldron. Lot’s more on the history of the Chaudière Falls can be found here.

This photo was taken from a viewing deck one can access by bike.

The Chaudière Falls

Our last stop is Rideau Falls. Rideau is the french word for curtain, describing the distinct form the water takes as it spills from the Rideau River into the Ottawa River. There are interpretive panels on the west side of the falls that delves into their history.

Rideau Falls in the Spring

If you choose to head back along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway, which is one of my favourite rides in the city, be warned that the section across from Carleton University is sometimes flooded in the Spring.

Happy trails!

Hockey History Tour

The history of ice hockey has deep roots in the national capital region, dating back to the 1800’s. This bike tour visits a few sites around town that commemorate the development of this popular winter sport.

We begin at the north-west corner of Gladstone and Bay. Here you will find a polished black stone pedestal commemorating the location of Dey’s Skating Rink , built in 1896 and considered to be the first Canadian hockey arena. It was twice destroyed: once in 1902 by a terrible windstorm, and then by fire in 1920. Here in 1903 the Ottawa Hockey Club defeated the Montreal Victoria’s to bring Ottawa it’s first Stanley Cup championship.

Plaque commemorating Dey’s Rink

The story of the Stanley Cup is expanded upon at our second stop on the tour. Head north along the Bay Street bike path, then right along Sparks Street which has no motorised vehicular traffic.

At the eastern end of Sparks Street you will find an installation titled Lord Stanley’s Gift, the focal point of which is a huge abstraction of the silver punch bowl donated by Canada’s 6th Governor General, Lord Stanley, who had written, ‘ I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion‘. This award was first presented in 1893 to to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association.

‘Lord Stanley’s Gift’

The tall columnar base of the modern Stanley Cup is not included on this display. this base, consisting of stacked silver bands with inscribed names of winning team players, was not part of the original cup donated by Lord Stanley. The bands also get replaced with more recent winning team players names.

Our third stop on the tour is in Gatineau on the corner of Jacques Cartier park across the street from the Canadian Museum of History. Here you will find a HUGE bronze sculpture titled ‘Never Give Up’ of Maurice Richard, legendary player of the Montreal Canadiens from 1942 – 1960.

Getting there from Sparks Street is a little tricky by bike. I suggest walking your bike along the sidewalk the few hundred yards to the bi-directional bike path along Mackenzie Avenue that only starts heading north at the corner of Mackenzie and Wellington (see red line on map) as there is no safe bike infrastructure between these two points. Once on the bike path head north along Mackenzie and then turn left onto the bike path along Murray street that transitions to the bike path over the Alexandra Bridge. Once on the other side, turn right across at the lights where you will find the sculpture of Maurice Richard on the opposite side.

Richard took on a strong symbolic role throughout Quebec in the period leading up to the Quiet Revolution. The Richard Riot broke out in Montreal when he was suspended for the remainder of the 1954-55 season by commisioner Clarence Campbell after a violent on ice confrontation. He was further popularised in Roch Carrier’s book The Hockey Sweater and was the first Quebec non-politician to be given a state funeral.

Maurice Richard

Our final destination on the tour is on the grounds of Rideau Hall at the Governor General’s skating rink, however this destination will have to wait until the threat of Covid is in the past. I have indicated this route with a purple line on the map and will elaborate on it once the rink is again open to the public. Once it is here you will find a great exhibit (designed by Carla Ayukawa of Evolution Design) on the roles various Governor Generals have played in promoting winter sports. Particular to hockey, there is information on the rink itself, the Stanley Cup, as well as the Clarkson Cup, donated by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, first awarded to the Canadian national women’s hockey team in 2006.

Exhibit on winter sports inside the pavillion at the Rideau Hall skating rink
Governor General David Johnston reviewing exhibit (hockey display on right hand side)
GG’s and Winter Sports
Stanley Cup and Clarkson Cup

Et voila!

Architect James Strutt Church Designs

James Strutt (1924 – 2008) was one of Ottawa’s most successful Modernist architects. He was called upon to design many innovative buildings for clients throughout the National Capital Region. Along with office towers, private residences and public facilities he also designed a number of churches throughout the 1950’s and 60’s for Ottawa’s expanding  mid-century suburbs . This bike tour visits these churches, identified by the red markers on the attached map. The blue markers show the location of other buildings he designed  including The Strutt House his family home he built on the edge of Gatineau Park.  It has recently been restored to it’s original design and has been preserved as an interpretive centre dedicated to the study of his works. A bike route to the Strutt House from Ottawa can found here. Clicking on a blue marker will bring up an image of each building.

The orange markers are buildings that unfortunately are not visible from points accessible by bike. The grey markers are those I have yet to visit but I will update the map with photos once I do.

We begin at the Bells Corners United Church. In 1960 the decision was made to build a new church to replace its predecessor on Robertson Road (now a spa) as it could no longer accomodate the growing number of parishioners. It was completed in 1965.

Bells Corners United Church

Our second stop is St Paul’s Presbyterian Church on Woodroffe Avenue. This smaller, more intimate house of worship, was an earlier design, completed in 1958. The wooden boxes on the roofs were not part of the original design nor obviously were the solar panels.

St. Paul’s Presbyterian church

Cyclists riding along the Experimental Farm Pathway will have noticed the distinct copper clad building just off the path at Mailand Avenue. This is the Trinity United Church designed by Strutt in 1963. The form was supposedly inspired by Noah’s ark.

Trinity United Church

The dominating wavy form Strutt designed for St Peters Anglican Church on Merivale Road (now the St. Teklehaimanot Ethiopian Orthodox Church) was achieved by using a modern concrete spray. It was then clad in cedar shingles, similar to the one in Bells Corners, but since replaced with metal cladding.

St. Peter’s Anglican Church

St Marks Anglican Church on Fisher Avenue is from 1954. A number of modifications have been made to the original building but there is a great slide show with sketches and descriptions of the original design along with pictures of the church in construction that you can view by clicking here.

St Marks Anglican Church

St Paul’s Anglican Church (now the Ottawa East Seventh-Day Adventist Church) in Overbrook is tucked in between Presland and Prince Albert Street. Strutt designed this one in 1963. Originally there was a small cross at the peak of the taller roof.

St. Paul’s Anglican Church

Our final stop is the Rothwell United Church in Cardinal Heights. Completed in 1961, it has changed little from Strutt’s original design.

Rothwell United Church

A few more details on the design of these churches can be found here.

Et voila!

An Ottawa bike tour of designs by architect David Ewart

David Ewart was Canada’s Chief Dominion Architect from 1896 to 1914. During his prolific career he designed numerous buildings across the country, four of which are still standing here in Ottawa – the Royal Canadian Mint on Sussex Drive, the Connaught Building on Mackenzie Street, the Victoria Memorial Museum (now the Museum of Nature), and the Dominion Observatory on the grounds on the Central Experimental Farm. This bike tour visits all four.

We begin at the Royal Canadian Mint located just beside the National Gallery of Canada. The Mint was built to function as a centre of the country’s wealth at a time when Canada was flexing its growing monetary independance. Ewart applied details reminscent of medieval castles and late gothic styling over a Beaux-Arts-inspired design.

Royal Canadian Mint

To get to our next stop, follow the bike lane along Sussex Drive past the National Gallery. The bike lane gets pretty tight at the corner of St Patrick and Sussex so I cut across the broad plaza infront of the giant spider to get to the bike crossing .

Cutting across the plaza in front of Maman

Double cross the intersection to eventually get over to the bi-directional bike path that runs along Mackenzie Avenue infront of the American embassy.

Double cross over to path infront of U.S. embassy

You will need to weave between two sets of huge bollards set in the middle of the path that are meant to protect the embassy. They are a bit tricky to negotiate. Just beyond the second set of bollards is our next stop – The Connaught Building.

The Connaught Building was designed to house the first Canadian archives, reflecting the nation’s growing sense of Canadian identity. It was designed in part to meet Prime Minister Laurier’s vision for an architecturally coherent image for the capital. Ewart again used Beaux-Arts inspired principles as seen in its symmetrically organized facade and central main entry. To this he applied a combination of detailing from the  Victorian Gothic style, as seen in the Parliament buildings, and large manors built during the Tudor period.

Connaught Building

The interpretive panel visible in the bottom right of the above photo describes David Ewart and his work within the context of this incredibly productive period of building design in the capital. Definitely worth a quick read.

Continue along the bike lane to where it ends at Wellington Street. There is an advance bike signal at this intersection that allows cyclists to cut diagonally across Wellington to the ramp that leads down to Colonel By Drive. At the next set of lights hop onto the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway.

Diagonal crossing with signal across Wellington

Transition from the bike lane where it ends at Colonel By Drive to the Rideau Canal Pathway

Ride under the Corkstown pedestrian/bike bridge, then circle up and over the bridge to get to the other side of the canal.

Corkstown Bridge.

Once across Queen Elizabeth Drive access MacLaren Street via a short jog along Somerset and The Driveway. MacLaren is a quiet street that you can follow west as far as O’Connor Street. Turn left onto the bi-directional segregated bike path along O’Connor and follow it to McLeod Street where on the left you will see our next stop – the Museum of Nature. McLeod Street is a one way heading west so to get to the front of the museum get on the path at the corner of O’Connor and McLeod that goes through the park past the wooly mammoth.

The Museum of Nature was originally called the Victoria Memorial Museum in honour of Queen Victoria who’s reign ended in 1901. This was Ewart’s most ambitious building for the capital, once again using the Tudor Gothic style. Unfortunately the instability of the soil on which it was built required that the original central tower be reduced by one level to keep it from sinking in to the ground. The glass tower now occupying the space was added in a more recent major renovation to the building. The fascinating history of the museum is explained in extensive detail here and here.

Museum of Nature view of the west face

Next get back on the O’Connor bike lane and follow it under the Queensway and on through the Glebe where it switches sides of the street and disappears/reappears in a few spots.

O’Connor bike path north of Queensway

O’Connor bike lane south of Queensway

O’Connor ends at Fifth Avenue so turn left onto the bike lane that brings you the signalised intersection across Queen Elizabeth Driveway. Once across, turn right onto the Rideau Canal Western Pathway and follow it all the way to Dow’s Lake where it ends at Preston Street.

Rideau Canal Western Pathway

At Preston cross over to the opposite corner of the intersection to the path that continues up along Prince of Wales Drive.

At the next set of lights, which is a pedestrian crosswalk towards the arboretum, turn right along a short paved driveway that becomes a worn path leading up a hill towards Birch Drive.

Path up to Birch Drive

Continue straight along Birch Drive, then right on Maple Drive to our final destination the Dominion Observatory.

Designed in a Romanesque Revival style, the Observatory was used to establish coordinates for timekeeping that at the time could only come from an observatory. Fortunately this beautiful heritage building has survived any threats of demolition even though it ceased serving as an observatory in 1970.

More about the history of the Observatory including pictures of it during construction can be found here and here.

Dominion Observatory

Et voila! Thank you David Ewart.

Victoria Day Bike Ride

This is an update of a tour originally posted in 2018 which has since seen lots of changes to the original route.

Victoria Day is a distinctly Canadian holiday, celebrated on the Monday that lands between the 18th and 24th of May in honour of Queen Victoria who was born on May 24, 1819. One legend says she chose Ottawa as the nation’s capital by jabbing a hat pin into a spot on a map between Toronto and Montreal to stop the two cities from squabbling over which one deserved to be the capital. Another suggests her appreciation of landscape paintings of the region inspired her to choose this location. There may be an element of truth to both when she ultimately acted on the reccomendations of Sir John A MacDonald and made the final decision.

This ride starts on Parliament Hill where a statue of Queen Victoria was installed to commemorate her reign after she passed away in 1901. We then head along the Ottawa River and up through Gatineau Park to the small Chelsea Pioneers Cemetery where lies Private Richard Rowland Thompson, the sole Canadian recipient of a Queen’s Scarf of Honour, one of eight scarves crocheted by Queen Victoria in her final year of life.

At present the statue of Victoria located just to the west of the Centre Block on Parliament Hill can only be viewed from behind a wire fence as the site is being refurbished.

As close as we get

Exit Parliament Hill heading west and turn right after passing through the RCMP bollards.

Turn right once beyond the RCMP bollards

The road hugging the western edge of Parliament Hill winds down through a series of parking lots to the edge of the Ottawa River Pathway.

Road heading down to the Ottawa River on the West side of Parliamnet Hill

Head left along the pathway and just before it goes under Wellington St take the ramp up to the Portage Bridge and cross the bridge over the river towards Quebec along the bi-directional bike path.

The Portage bridge leap frogs across Victoria Island. Normally you can access and explore the island from the bridge but it is presently closed off for some site remediation. I will update the post once the island is reopened to visitors. The tall stone building ruin visible just off the path is an old carbide Mill.

Carbide Mill on Victoria Island

Once across the bridge follow the Voyageurs Pathway and circle under the Portage Bridge.Follow the path all the way to a fork  just in front of a hydro site. Head right at the fork.

Exit off Voyageurs Pathway towards Gatineau Park

This leads to Rue Belleau, a quiet street with bike lanes leading to the intersection at Boulevard Alexander-Taché. The start of the Gatineau Park Pathway is immediately across this intersection.

Follow the beautiful Gatineau Park Pathway up through the park all the way to Chemin de la Mine.

Heading up the Gatineau Park Pathway

Access Chemin de la Mine from the pathway and head north. Desperately needed bike lanes were added to most of Chemin de la Mine between the pathway and Notch Road in 2019.

Bike lane along Chemin de la Mine

The bike lane disappears for a stretch just before it ends at Notch Road. I’ve identified this by a red line on the map. I hope they add this missing section of bike lane as soon as possible.

Turn right onto Notch Road. It also has bike lanes that have been added within the last couple of years.

Notch Road

Turn right onto Chemin de Kingsmere then right onto the bike lane along Chemin Old Chelsea east heading over the Gatineau Autoroute, all the way to Route 105.

Turn left up the 105 and ride along the paved shoulder all the way to the small sign indicating the entrance to the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery .

Shoulder along the 105 between Chemin Old Chelsea and Scott Road

Entrance sign for the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery

Down a short dirt road you will arrive at the small cemetery where lay the remains of Private Richard Rowland Thompson. He was awarded the Queen’s Scarf of Honour, for his actions in the Boer War Battle of Paardeberg where he saved the life of a wounded colleague and stayed with him throughout the heat of battle. He also attempted to save another as the fighting raged about him.  The scarf is now at the Canadian War Museum.

Resting place of Private Richard Rowland Thompson

Tombstones in the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery

Exiting the cemetery continue north along the 105 before turning onto Chemin Scott which also has bike lanes heading into Old Chelsea.

Segregted bike lanes along Scott heading into Old Chelsea

When pandemics aren’t around one can stop in for a very yummy brunch at the restaurant Tonique. If ice cream is what you crave La Cigale is right next door. On Victoria Day 2020 it was open for curbside orders.

Banana Nutella Crepe and Croque-Madame brunches at Tonique

La Cigale

Chemin Scott intersects Chemin Old Chelsea which you can hop back onto and retrace the route in reverse back to Ottawa.

Et voila!