Bike Tour in Commemoration of Thomas Ahearn

Back at the turn of the 20th century Ottawa had it’s own Elon Musk character by the name of Thomas Ahearn. He achieved a myriad of ground breaking technological achievements in his time. For example he brought electric lighting to all our city streets way before the rest of the country caught on. With his business partner Warren Soper he created the Ottawa Electric Railway Company, building a network of streetcars and tracks whose routes opened up the city. He also designed and patented a number of electronic products, like the first electronic oven. He also drove an electric car. This bike tour visits a few sites in memory of Ahearn’s contributions to the development of Ottawa.

For a more detailed description of Thomas Ahearn I recommend checking out this Ottawa Citizen link . I have also included a number of other links at the bottom of this post.

Our tour begins in Lebreton Flats where in 1855 Thomas Ahearn first arrived on the scene. His parents were Irish immigrants who lived on the Flats where his father worked as a blacksmith. At the age 15 or 16 Thomas went from his home on the Flats to the J.R. Booth Company to offer his services in exchange for learning the exciting new technology of telegraphy.

On the Southwest corner of Booth and Sir John A MacDonald (SJAM) Parkway, across the street from the War Museum, sits an interpretive display on the history of Lebreton Flats. A heritage, non-functioning, public fountain acts as it’s introductory focal point. The original working fountain was commissioned in part by Ahearn himself in tribute to his mother-in-law Lilias Fleck, and was re-discovered when the soil in Lebreton Flats was being de-contaminated in the 2010’s. Further within this interpretive exhibit are two panels that touch on Ahearn and his many exploits. Lebreton Flats is where Thomas’ adventures began!

Entrance to Lebreton Flats interpretive display with the Fleck Fountain at the front
1 of 2 interpretive panels further within the display that talks about Ahearn. That’s him in the middle.

After working for a few years in New York City, the hi-tech hub of the era, Ahearn re-settled in Ottawa and in partnership with his old friend from the Flats, Warren Soper, he built up a number of successful companies which they managed from their headquarters on Sparks Street, which is our first stop. To get there our route passes through the Garden of the Provinces and Territories park. At the south/east end of the park there is a ramp to get up to Sparks Street but it is quite narrow so we carried our bikes up the short flight of stairs.

Ottawa Electric Railway Company streetcars used to travel along Sparks Street.

Sparks St back in 1909. Ottawa Electric Company building would be facing the third telephone pole on the left.

In 1927, Thomas Ahearn was chosen by Prime Minister MacKenzie King as the first chairman of the Federal District Commission, the predecessor to the National Capital Commission (NCC). In this role he greatly influenced the development of Ottawa’s parkway network, including the Queen Elizabeth Driveway. The Rideau Canal Western Pathway runs along the Driveway which we followed to our next destination  – Lansdowne Park. That’s because the inaugural run of the Ottawa Electric Railway Company travelled down Bank Street to Lansdowne with Ahearn piloting one trolley and Sopper at the helm of another, with an impressive list of dignitaries along for the ride. It was also at Lansdowne where in 1892 Ahearn exhibited a number of his patents and won the first gold medal ever awarded by the Central Canadian Exhibitions Association.

At the extreme north-west corner of Lansdowne, where Holmwood and Bank Street meet, sits the second non-functioning water fountain on our tour. This one is dedicated to Ahearn himself. A history of the fountain pre-re-installation can be found at this link.

After visiting the Ahearn Fountain we cut through the Glebe to the path that runs along the O-Train and followed it all the way to the Ottawa River. We then rode west along the Ottawa River Pathway to Britannia Bay. Ahearn’s streetcar tracks were extended to Britannia Beach where he built an amusement park to encourage users of the streetcar to travel on weekends. The Ottawa River Pathway now follows the old streetcar line from where the path leaves the edge of the SJAM Parkway. The streetcar terminal structure at Britannia Bay is a reminder of this popular service.

Britannia Trolley Station

There is a short quiet residential street just a few blocks west of the old terminal station named in hounour of Ahearn. Our bike route includes the length of it.

Ahearn Ave

In 1899 Ahearn formed the Metropolitan Power Company to build a hydro electric power house where the Ottawa River narrows, just east of Britannia Bay. This included a 2000-foot canal extending to the lower end of the Lac Deschênes Rapids. This endeavor did not prove to be financially viable, so the top of the canal was converted into moorings for the Britannia Boat Club.

Top of Britannia Canal

Vestiges of the old canal can also be viewed by following Cassels Street and cutting across the grass to the waters edge at the spot indicated on the above map.

Other side of the black line in the middle is the ottawa River

Our tour heads back along the Ottawa River Pathway to the Champlain Bridge. In his role as chairman of the Federal District Commission Ahearn played an instrumental role in promoting and financing the construction of the original Champlain Bridge across the Ottawa River. In 2002 the bridge was rebuilt and this section of the original bridge was put on display on Bate Island, midway across the bridge with interpretive panels on the history of the bridge.

Hunk of original Champlain Bridge on Bate Island

The tour continues across the bridge along the bike lane to the Quebec side of the river, and then east along the Voyageurs Pathway beside the river as far as the Portage Bridge. Normally the route would continue along the Voyageurs Pathway all the way to the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge but unfortunately the NCC closed the section along the river between the Museum of History and the Portage Bridge ever since this spring’s devastating flooding, and will not complete the repairs until next spring. As such, our route detours along the extra wide sidewalk along Rue Laurier infront of the museum, and then along the new bike lanes along the northern edge of Jacques Cartier Park. There are bi-directional bike lanes along the eastern side of the Macdonald-Cartier bridge which we followed back over to the Ontario side of the river.

Our route continues along the Sussex Drive bike lane to the round-a-bout to the north of Rideau Hall. In the centre of the round-a-bout the NCC has installed a short section of streetcar tracks reminiscent of the original ones that brought passengers to and from Rockcliffe Park.

Streetcar tracks that extend into the round-about

The little heritage canopies one can observe while travelling along the Rockcliffe Parkway were shelters for passengers waiting for the streetcar.

Streetcar stop

Rockcliffe park was a popular destination for weekend streetcar passengers including skiers.

Our final destination is the resting place of Thomas Ahearn in Beechwood Cemetery. To get there we cut through Rockcliffe and then rode a short distance along the Beechwood Avenue bike lane before turning up into the cemetery where one can find this headstone identifying his and his loved one’s resting place.

Et voila, thus concludes our bike tour commemorating the phenomenal achievements of Thomas Ahearn. The following links lead to more in depth stories on the man.

Article on page 4 of this edition of ‘The Beechwood Way’ describe some of Ahearn’s achievements along with those of his second wife Margaret.

A bit more history on the Ottawa Streetcars.

The story of Ahearn and the streetcars from OC Transpo’s website.

Description of Ahearn & Soper’s Ottawa Electric Railway Company within the histroy of rail travel in the capital. Also includes a 1948 map of of Ottawa streetcar routes.

Another fine Citizen article on the life of Thomas Ahearn.

Little bit of Ottawa Hydro history mentioning a few of Ahearns exploits.

Description of Ahearns patented electric oven and the spectacle he orchestrated using it for “…the first instance in the history of the world of an entire meal being cooked by electricity.”

Article on the status and history of the Ottawa street cars, originally publilshed in 1951.

Discovering Deschênes by Bike!

Deschênes is a small community on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, right where the river narrows into the Deschênes rapids after it makes a big swing past Aylmer. The Ottawa River played an important role in the rich history of our community. 

Whenever a big river narrows, it creates a powerful current, especially attractive to capitalist entrepreneurs in the late 1800’s, a procession of which built various mills at this location.

The most noticeable feature while riding along the Voyageurs Pathway through Deschênes are the ruins of some of those old mills still holding their own in the middle of the river. But there is even more to discover in the immediate environs, as I learnt on a Jane’s Walk tour of the communtiy earlier this year.

The Deschênes Residents Association put together this map describing the ruins, along with a number of other interesting spots within the community.

Here is a bike route from Ottawa to Deschênes and back, along with stops at some of the spots described on the Deschênes Residents Association map that are accessible via velo.

This ride begins in Ottawa where the bike lanes along Laurier and Bay meet. I made my way north along Bay to Wellington before crossing over to Quebec along the Portage Bridge bike lane. I then got on the Voyageurs Pathway and followed it all the way to Deschênes. First stop is at Simard Bay below the Deschênes rapids, with a fine view out over the river.

Simard Bay

A short distance up stream one arrives at the rapids with great views of the ruins.

Mill ruins

The area is also good for bird watching. There are interpretive panels with french descriptions of a few fine feathered friends one might spot while visiting as well as why this site is an important bird habitat.

Birds & Rapids

Next stop along the Voyageurs Pathway is the wooden bridge that crosses over the marsh just west of the rapids. It is magical riding through this short section. Definitely worth a pause to take it all in.

The Dupéré bridge and wood duck marsh

I continued along the Voyageurs Pathway and then turned east along the old track bed that runs parallel to Boulevard de Lucerne.

Variegated stone dust/dirt surface along old track bed

In the late 1800’s an electrical generating station was built at the rapids in part to run trams between Ottawa and Aylmer. One of the oldest remaining buildings in Deschênnes is associated with this endeavour. The long stone building at the corner of Lucerne and Vanier was the tram way car barn. I believe this is where they were stored. A fine historical reference photo can be found here.

This is what it looks like now.

Tramway barn as it appears today

After checking out the old tramway barn I rode back to the Voyageurs Pathway along the brand-spanking-new Chemin Vanier bike lane!

Bike lanes along Chemin Vanier

I then rode back to Ottawa via the Voyageurs Pathway, crossing the Ottawa River over the Island park Drive bridge. Once across I followed the Ottawa River Pathway towards downtown.

I’ve described just a thin slice of the many layers that make up the rich history of the Deschênes community. The Jane’s Walk tour of the area given by Howard Powles is definitely worth checking out if he decides to give it again next year.

Et voila!

Biking From Lebreton Flats to the RA Centre Without Having to Ride Down Bronson Ave.

The RA Centre is a great big wonderful exercise facility on the south side of the Rideau River, just west of Billings Bridge. Ironically, it’s a tricky place to bike to. A rider was looking for a route from Lebreton Flats to the RA Centre that avoids having to ride along Bronson. And who can blame him? Bronson is a major traffic artery the explodes into a six lane speedway south of the Rideau Canal. Between the Canal and Carleton University flexi-posts are installed in the summer to reinforce the presence of bike lanes along both side of Bronson, but south of Carleton there’s just a faded white painted line, or none at at all, particularly across long on/off ramps that cyclists are expected to coast through as drivers distractedly jostle each other at crazy speeds in their attempts to merge on and off Bronson.

Here is a description of the route identified by the blue line on the following map, which is similar to a previously posted winter route from the Glebe to the RA Centre, but the lack of ice & snow allows for a few shortcuts on the approach to the RA Centre.

The purple line (an option suggested by an old friend) follows the Rideau River Pathway once across Hog’s Back Falls. This more picturesque and less convoluted option has one tricky spot – getting across very busy Riverside Drive. Best place to cross is at the lights to Data Centre Road. Data Centre Road doesn’t have a bike lane but there is a sidewalk one can follow to the entrance of the RA Centre parking lot.

The route begins at the western tip of Lebreton Flats along the Ottawa River Pathway.

Start at western corner of Lebreton Flats

After riding along the Ottawa River Pathway for a short spell I turned inland along the Trillium Pathway that runs parallel to the O-Train tracks.

Exit off Ottawa River Pathway onto the Trillium Pathway

Across Carling Avenue the path goes from paved to gravel and remains so as far as Prince of Wales Drive. There are plans to pave this section, as well as improve the crossing once arrived at Prince of Wales. Until such time, another alternative is to walk along the sidewalk on the south side of Carling for a short distance to the bike paths that cut through Queen Juliana Park, as suggested by the orange line on the above map. This is a particularly good option on the return trip from the RA Centre.

Gravel section of Trillium Path between Carling and Prince of Wales Drive

I turned right along the Prince of Wales, which has a painted bike lane, and followed it a very short distance to the lights that took me across to the Arboretum.

Lights across Prince of Wales Drive into the Arboretum

I rode through the beautiful Arboretum along gravel paths which brought me to paved Rideau Canal Western pathway that skirts the edge of the canal up to the Hartwell Locks.

Riding through the Arboretum

I rode up the hill to the furthest set of locks and carried my bike three steps to be able to push it across to the other side. If this crossing is really crowded I cross the second set of locks, but it has rarely been so busy for me to exercise this option.

Crossing at Hartwell Locks

On the opposite side of the canal the path continues all the way up to Mooneys Bay.

Biking along the canal towards Mooney’s Bay

The path curls up and continues to the right alongside Hogs Back Road over the falls. I then continued straight along the path to the intersection at Riverside Drive.

Path alongside Hog’s Back Road

I made my way to the opposite corner from where the path meets Riverside Drive.

Crossing Riverside Drive intersection – view from south/east corner

That took me to a small desire line that cuts kitty corner away from the intersection into the Canada Post campus.

Desire line that leads away from Riverside Drive into the Canada Post campus

I followed the road around to the opposite north/east corner of the campus to a path, which in turn leads towards a short switch back heading up to Heron Road. Arrived at Heron, I followed the sidewalk to the lights, crossed there, and headed back a short distance to the path on the opposite side.

Path on the north side of Heron

This path curls around the now fenced off grounds of the old CBC headquarters. Part way around the curl there’s a sharp turn to the right that leads to a small pillbox shaped building.

Path to entrance of passageway under Bronson

That’s the entrance port to a very cool underground passageway beneath Bronson Avenue. It requires carrying one’s bike down a few steps. The passageway pops up in mirror fashion on the other side of Bronson.

Passageway under Bronson

Once popped out the other side, I followed a concrete path that traced the contour of a very interesting modernist building.

Path along contour of Modernist CRA building

This eventually brought me to a paved path that went down to the back of the RA Centre.

Path heading down behind the RA Centre

Once at the bottom of the path one can ride around the building to access any of the many entrances.

RA Centre

Et voila!

Biking to The Ottawa Tool Library

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 assortment of power tools and hand tools to choose from. But, what if you want to bike there AND need a way to transport some of the bigger tools that won’t fit into your panniers? Well they also have a great Wike bike flatbed trailer you can borrow for that job too! Or you can borrow the trailer for whatever other load you need to haul.

The Tool Library is located at City Centre, a long curved multi-leveled semi-industrial building with many entrance bays. It also shares Maker Space North, a wonderful melange of small start-ups and hobbyists. Suffice to say, the library’s location isn’t screamingly obvious, but once you discover it the first time it’s easy to remember. The following three maps show how to get to the library by bike (blue lines) and leave (purple lines), depending from which direction you are arriving.


The Trillium Pathway that runs alongside the O-Train goes right past City Centre. When approaching from the south I turn off the path through an opening between a bunch of boulders, just after passing under Somerset St West.

Exit off the Trillium Pathway between the boulders to City Centre

Once beyond the boulders I head straight, then pull a sharp 180 degree and head up the one-way ramp that curves around the back of the building to the second level.

Heading up the ramp
Top of the ramp. There’s usually a sandwich board outside the Library bay door letting you know you made it.

The Tool Library is located just within bay door 210. If the bay door is open, as it often is in the summer, I usually dismount and push my bike in.

Bay Door 210
Bike with trailer outside the Tool Libary

If for whatever reason Bay Door 210 is closed (too cold, too rainy, etc) I continue on to the entrance at Bay 216 whch is the main entrance to Maker Space North, then work my way back a bit through the open shared Maker Space to the Tool Library.

Bay Door 216 : main entrance to Maker Space North

Third option is to lock my bike to the railing opposite the entrance, which requires a cable lock.

When leaving I continue north along the one-way ramp which heads down at the opposite side of the building. If I’m heading south, i.e. the direction I originally came from, I take the gravel road to the left at the bottom of the ramp.

Heading down the exit ramp. Packed gravel road to the left I follow if I’m heading south or back to the Trillium Path


The Trillium Path heads north as far as the Ottawa River Pathway. It also crosses the bike path that runs along Scott Street, which is convenient if arriving from points west. Once on the Trillium Path I take the same exit between the boulders and head up the ramp to the tool Library. When leaving I cross Albert Street and follow the bike path that takes me back to the Trillium Path.


If I’m pulling the trailer and arriving from the East along the bike path that runs along the north side of Albert Street, I cross at the lights on to City Centre Avenue which takes me to the bottom of the ramp up to the Tool Library.

Attaching the Wike trailer is very easy. Here is a video showing how to do so on a bolt on hub (click), and another for a quick release hub (click). Note, As explained to me by the good folks at Wike, the cargo trailer does not use the safety strap shown in the videos. The saftey straps is for kids trailers.

Also note – bring-your-own-bunjy cords to tie things down.

Here are some examples of loads I’ve hauled with the Wike trailer:

Upholstery project
Trip to Costco
Christmas tree

Et voila!

Bike Commute From Cardinal Heights to Downtown Ottawa

Here’s a bike commute route that starts at the corner of Blair and Dunham St in the neighbourhood of Cardinal Heights and makes its way downtown to the corner of Laurier and Kent. The purple line is an option that avoids busy Ogilvie Road but does include a few challenging spots of its own that are described lower in the post.

Corner of Blair Road and Dunham Street. Et c’est le départ!

Blair Road is a two lane straight-away with painted bike lanes along both shoulders. I headed south on Blair and turned right on to Ogilvie Road.

Bike lane along Blair Road

Ogilvie Road is a very busy four lane east/west artery  with painted bike lanes that traverse a number of shared merging bus stop lanes and extended turning lanes at each major intersection.

Bike lane along Ogilvie Road.

Beyond St Laurent Boulevard the separated bike lane is raised and becomes a two way lane across from the entrance to the St Laurent shopping centre parking. Just beyond the shopping centre I turned right onto a link that leads to Hardy Avenue.

Raised path along Coventry Road and exit to Hardy Avenue (where the cyclist is heading)

I continued west on quiet Hardy, which morphs into Presland Road, a residential street that many other cyclists follow because of the dedicated cross signal across the Vanier Parkway.

Presland bike & pedestrian crossing at Vanier Parkway

Once across the parkway I continued along Presland Road West then turned right onto North River Road before taking a left onto Prindiville St. Prindiville dead ends for cars but transitions into a link to the Rideau River East pathway.

Link at the end of Prindville St…….to the Rideau River Pathway

Next it’s up and over the Rideau River along the Adawe bridge.

Over the Adawe Bridge

Then, straight along Somerset East to the University of Ottawa campus. There’s a bit of a hill just before King Edward Avenue.

Biking along Somerset St East

The route continues under Nicholas then across Colonel By Drive at another fine set of dedicated pedestrian/cyclist traffic lights.

Accessinig the Nicholas St underpass where Somerset dead ends on the Ottawa U campus (follow the cyclist)

I turned right to get up and over the canal along Corktown bridge.

Corktown Bridge over the Rideau Canal

On the other side of the bridge I turned right on to the Rideau Canal Western Pathway.

Biking along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway

After riding under the Laurier bridge I turned left and cut through Confederation Park to get to where the segregated bike lane along Laurier begins at Elgin Street.

Accessing Confederation Park (see white arrow) from the Rideau Canal Western Pathway

I followed the Laurier Bike Lane to our final destination, Laurier and Kent.

Made it! Kent & Laurier

OK, more about the purple route. For many cyclists, riding along a four lane major artery road with nothing but painted white lines designating a bike lane, often faded and barely visible, does not feel safe. Particularly at critical vehicule driver decision nodes, such as approaching major intersections where the painted line isn’t a designated lane but a shared transition space. The Ogilvie Road bike lanes fit this description. As such, the route described by the purple line on the above map avoids having to ride down Ogilvie Road. Here is a short description of this option.

We begin once again at the corner of Blair and Dunham St. A short distance north along Blair I cut west through the very calm grounds of the National Research Council and then along quiet roads through the campus of Cité de la Colegiale. Unfortunately at the edge of campus there are no traffic lights to help get across the Aviation Parkway to get to the Aviation Pathway.

Crossing the Aviation Parkway at the end of La Cité Private.

A short distance along the Aviation Pathway I followed a short path that went goes through an opening in the fence to access streets heading west. Minor hick – the path can get a little muddy during rainy spells.

Path through fence off of Aviation Pathway

I then zig zagged along mostly residential streets to get to St Laurent Boulevard, which were mostly calm, except the couple of blocks along Cummings. Not sure why lots of hurried traffic heads down Cummings. My guess is it is used as a short cut through from Montreal Road to Ogilvie Road.

Traffic along Cummings Street

Crossing St Laurent Boulevard along Donald St is pretty lousy. Cars dart out of mall parking lots on either side of Donald just before St Laurent, and rush through the turning lanes on and off St Laurent. At peak traffic periods I would be tempted to walk along the sidewalk from Elaine Drive, across St Laurent to Alesther Street.

View down Donald St towards St Laurent, the second set of traffic lights. The first set of lights are to access mall parking lots.

Beyond St Laurent the purple route continues along residential streets to link up with the blue route at Hardy Avenue.

In summary, while the purple route manages to avoid Ogilvie Road, it does have a few challenges, particularly crossing St Laurent Boulevard.

Et voila!

Biking to the Costco in Gloucester from Overbrook

Having viewed a previous post on biking to the Costco in Gatineau, a resident of Overbrook was wondering if there was a similar bike route to the Costco off Innes Road. Bike lanes have recently been introduced along Cyrville Road creating huge improvements for cyclists trying to get to destinations south-east of the Queensway/401 highway split, such as the Costco in question. The following route includes the new lanes along Cyrville, pointing out a few challenging spots along its trajectory.

The Adawe bridge spans the Rideau River from Strathcona Park in Sandy Hill and touches down on the opposite shore of the Rideau River at the westernmost tip of Overbrook – a fine spot to begin our adventure.

I turned right and headed south along the Rideau River Pathway for a short distance before turning inland at the little green sign pointing towards Queen Mary Street.

Looking out over the Rideau River from the Adawe bridge…. and where to go once on the eastern shore.
Exit off Rideau River Pathway towards North River Road

I then turned right along quiet North River Road, then left onto Presland Road West.

Turn from North River Road onto Presland Road West

An extensively upgraded pedestrian and cycle crossing has been introduced to help traverse busy Vanier Parkway, connecting the two sections of Presland Road.

Approach to the Vanier Parkway crossing bike from Presland Road West

I continued along Presland, a residential street  which morphs into Hardy Street for a couple of blocks at the eastern end. I turned right off Hardy onto a short bike path link to a bidirectional bike path that runs along Coventry Road.

Link from Hardy to Coventry Road
Bidirectional path along Conventry Road

The path ends a short distance east at the lights crossing over to the St Laurent Shopping Centre. A bike lane then continues on the opposite side heading east. Things get a little hairy as the bike lane crosses a long extended merging lane onto St Laurent Boulevard.

Coventry Road bike lane approaching St Laurent Blvd

Once across St Laurent the path continues along busy Ogilvie Road which I followed for a short distance before turning right onto Cyrville Road.

Ogilvie Road and CyrvilleRoad intersection
Beginning of bike lane along Cyrville Road

Cyrville road once cut through the village of Cyrville, the centre of a farming community that supplied the Byward Market with bountiful produce. It gradually succumbed to a series of amalgamations and the land was taken over by heavy industries. You may notice lingering hints of the old community of Cyrville when passing through, the most predominate being the Notre-Dames De Lourdes church.

Notre-Dames De Lourdes church

The bike lane continues up and over the 417 for the first of two occaisions then, just beyond Labrie, it veers away from the edge of the road to become it’s own seggregated lane – always welcome.

Bike lane veering right slightly to become a segregated lane, just beyond Labrie Ave.

The lane eventually snuggles up to the road once again, then gets a little narrower as it passes over the 417 for a second time before easing off again once on the other side. Be aware of a telephone support cable stuck in to the centre of the path just before heading over the 417 again, particularly if you are pulling a trailer. I managed to squeeze my Wike trailer to the right away from traffic.

Crossing the 417, take 2: Telephone pole support cable…. and path narowing heading over bridge

The least pleasant stretch of Cyrville Road is the approach to Innes Road. After sharing space with a turning lane into the Home Depot parking, the painted bike lane then shares a long curved exit lane as it approaches Innes. Innes is as a multi-lane major road artery that leads to on/off ramps to the 417, so traffic can be pretty frenetic heading through this intersection.

Start of long curve heading towards Innes Road

The bike lane dissapears beyond the Innes road intersection requiring one to ride in traffic for 10 yards or so before turning in to the Costco parking lot.

View across Innes towards turn in to Costco parking

The bike rack is near the south west corner of the building so I stayed to the right while heading around the building, avoiding the usual route cars take, which is to head to the left upon driving on to the lot.

Bike rack

Leaving the site requires carefully negotiating with cars funneling through the same exit. Most are well behaved while leaving the lot as there is often a police officer guiding traffic.

I headed back the way I came with very similar conditions on the return route.

Et voila!

Discovery ride through Gatineau

Here’s a bike ride that works it’s way westwardly through the centre of Gatineau, starting from Jacques Cartier Park on the edge of the Ottawa River to just within the southern tip of Gatineau Park. The route follows a series of connecting paths along which there are a number of interesting sculptural installations and interpretive panels that describe the history of the area.


Our adventure begins just to the east of Maison Charon facing a trio of bronze and stone interpretive displays. These describe, in turn, the entrepreneur Philemon Wright who settled in the area during the 1800’s and developed the logging industry; the importance of the Ottawa River as a trading route and meeting place throughout time; and the history of Maison Charon.

Maison Charon
Maison Charon

Interpretive displays at Maison Charon
Interpretive displays at Maison Charon
The Voyageurs Pathway runs behind Maison Charon. I followed it south a short distance to another grouping of panels that describe the Ottawa as a ‘River of many Stories’, including those of the First Peoples, the coureurs de bois, loggers and log drivers.

River of Many Stories
River of Many Stories

I followed the path that circles away from the river, up towards a landing overlooking Jacques Cartier Park and a series of panels that describe how the area has transformed from an industrial site in the 1930’s to the public space that it is now.

View overlooking JCP park
View overlooking JCP park
Jacques Cartier Park interpretive panel with view towards the Alexandra Bridge and the National Gallery
Jacques Cartier Park interpretive panel with view towards the Alexandra Bridge and the National Gallery

I spun around and headed straight out of the park to the corner of Boulevard des Allumettières and Rue Laurier, where there’s huge bronze sculpture of Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Maurice Richard.

The Rocket
The Rocket

The De l’ile pathway starts on the other side of Rue Laurier and winds it’s way west. Just before reaching the intersection of Boulevard Maissoneuve and Boulevard des Allumettières there is an interpretive panel describing who the Allumettières were: female labourers who worked in the local EB Eddy factories making matches, and their struggles for workers rights.

Les Allumettières
Les Allumettières

In the above photo one can see the huge stained glass installation by Montreal artist Hal Ingberg that allows for some spectacular shadows, depending on how sunny it is.

Inberg shadows
Inberg shadows

At the corner of Rue Laval and Boulevard des Allumettières sits a metal sculpture inspired by origami. Created by a group of local artists from the Tripode Group, it was commissioned to celebrate the International Year of the Family in 1994.

Monument to the Family
Monument to the Family

The next section of the De l’ile pathway is a pleasant meander through the local community as far as Rue Saint Rédempteur.

De'l'ile Pathway
De’l’ile Pathway

There is a signalized crosswalk to get across Rue St Rédempteur before the path continues between a high school and the Robert Guertin arena where the Gatineau junior hockey team Les Olympiques play.

Robert Guertin Arena
Robert Guertin Arena

The path eventually meets up with the Ruisseau de la Brasserie Pathway. Turning left where the two paths meet leads to a bridge with some fine views overlooking the stream (or ruisseau).

View from the bridge over the Ruisseau de la Brasserie looking north
View from the bridge over the Ruisseau de la Brasserie looking north

The path continues alongside the ruisseau. Part way down the path there is a french interpretive panel describing the biodiversity found in this area.

Interpretive panel along the pathway
Interpretive panel along the pathway

I turned off the Ruisseau de la Brasserie Pathway just before it continued under the Boulevard des Allumettières, and followed the path that goes alongside les Allumettières.

Exit up to Boulevard des Allumettières
Exit up to Boulevard des Allumettières

The path along Boulevard des Allumettières is generous and physically separated from the busy boulevard, however a few intersections along the way can be a bit nerve wracking. These include on & off ramps to highway 50, and a couple of round-abouts.

Path along Allumettières at seen from under highway 50
Path along Allumettières at seen from under highway 50

At the first round-about there is a french interpretive panel that describes the struggles and efforts members of the local population undertook to minimize the impact Boulevard des Allumettières would have on their community. The Boulevard was eventually completed in 2007.

Round-about panorama. Left side of image is where I came from. Right side is where I'm heading.
Round-about panorama. Left side of image is where I came from. Right side is where I’m heading.

The path continues west with sound dampening walls separating it from Boulevard des Allumettières. This stretch of path is interrupted only by a second round-about intersection before reaching the exit ramp to the Lac-des-Fées Parkway.

Path along Boulevard des Allumetteèrres
Path along Boulevard des Allumetteèrres

The route gets a tad wonky once arrived at the exit ramp. The end goal is to continue west along Boulevard des Allumettières, however to do so one must follow a distorted figure 8 by first riding down alongside the Lac-des-Fées exit ramp, then winding your way back up on the other side of the ramp. Wouldn’t be too confusing it was uninterrupted, but it intersects the Lac-des-Fées pathway heading north-south at two spots. Best rule to maintain is to stay right.

Riding down alongside Lac-des-Fées down ramp, before first of two right turns back up to Promenade des Allumettières
Riding down alongside Lac-des-Fées down ramp, before first of two right turns back up to Promenade des Allumettières

Once back up beside Promenade des Allumettières there’s another french interpretive panel describing the history and surroundings of the viaduct over which the path continues.

Le viaduc Oscar-Duquette
Le viaduc Oscar-Duquette
View north from the viaduct
View north from the viaduct

Crossing over the viaduct brings you into Gatineau Park. A short hill once across the viaduct leads to the Gatineau Park Pathway where our discovery ride ends.

Intersection with the Gatineau Park Pathway. Arrivée!
Intersection with the Gatineau Park Pathway. Arrivée!

For a fine alternative return route back towards the starting point, I would suggest one described in part on this post, Biking from Gatineau Park to Ottawa.

Et voila!