A number of projects I’m working on has me delving into stories surrounding the horrors of war, particularly those involving Canadians. One tale I came across is that of Private Richard Rowland Thompson who in the Boer War Battle of Paardeberg 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. For this he was the only Canadian recipient of a Queen’s Scarf of Honour, one of eight scarves crocheted by Queen Victoria in her final year of life. The scarf is now at the Canadian War Museum. Turns out the fellow is buried in the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery. So I biked up the 105 right passed the small dirt road that leads to the small cemetery.
Realizing my mistake miles later, I headed back but not before cursing the terrible conditions of the 105 north of the Larimac golf course.
I also passed this very clever bike rack outside the Chelsea Smokehouse. They smoke fish.
Anyway, back to Private Richard Rowland Thompson … in commemoration of the honour Queen Victoria bestowed upon him, stone pillars flank the entrance to the small cemetery and a small cenotaph stands just beyond, listing the sons of Chelsea who fought and fell in the First and Second World Wars. It’s a very serene contemplative space, well worth the visit.
Sunday mornings are fantastic for long rides because there are hardly any cars on the road. Yesterday I managed to ride along the 307 on the East side of the Gatineau River, before turning onto Chemin de Mont Cascades towards Wakefield.
Beyond Mont Cascades the road was narrow, winding and picturesque like this.
Chemin de Mont Cascades becomes Chemin Clark, which meets up with the bigger 366, or Chemin Edelweiss, but I didn’t have to follow it for very long before I turned down Chemin du Vieux Pont, named after the covered bridge across the Gatineau River. Originally built in 1915, it has a long and illustrious history, including it’s complete reconstruction in 1998 by the local community after burning down 1984. Here’s what it looks like on the bridge.
The myriad of trails throughout the NCC Greenbelt has this unique signage system to help users navigate their way.
Once one gets used to the idea that the number and letter code at the top of each post designates their specific location on the trail, versus the norm of each trail having its own designation, be it a name, colour or number, the rest is easy-peasy. The location codes correlate to the trail map affixed to each post. You can also download all of the Greenbelt trail maps here.
I found myself travelling through a section of the Stony Swamp trails I’ve hi-lited in blue on this map, along with an image of only one of the wonderful natural landscapes I passed through.
I also came within yards of deer on three occasions, including these two staring back at me.
After exiting the trail at West Hunt Club Road, I was unable to access trails on the opposite side of Moodie Drive because of the brush fire in that area. Access was blocked off to everyone, except these turkeys who chose to ignore the barricades. I photo’d them from Moodie.
Closing this post off with an image of one of The many farms circling Stony Swamp.
Crossing the Lady Aberdeen Bridge over the Gatineau River just before it blends into the Ottawa River, one arrives in Pointe-Gatineau. NCC bike paths can be followed the entire way from downtown Ottawa.
Named after the point of land on which it sits at the confluence of these two mighty rivers, the area has a long history of settlement dating back to the early 1800’s. From the outset the Catholic Church established a dominant presence. The picturesque Saint-François-de-Sales church greets you just as you pedal over the bridge onto the eastern shore.
UPDATE– Fall 2016: There is a new multi-use path that goes along the edge of the river infront of the church, along Rue Jacques-Cartier and it’s fantastic! Click here for a description.
Many of the streets I explored behind the church are named after Catholic Saints (Rue Saint Josephat; Rue St Antoine; etc). Most of these streets are lined with comfy one story homes, however the main street beyond the church, Boulevard Gréber, feels like a battered strip which progress has left behind.
On the way there, or back, if you follow the bike path behind the Museum of Civilization you will come across this great series of sculptures titled People by Louis Archambault, originally presented at Montreal’s Expo 67.
In tribute to our national holiday I set out to explore streets in Gatineau named after a few of our First Nations.
Rue des Algonquins and it’s surrounding streets are a pleasant meander along large wooded properties. Very nice to bike through. The Algonquins were residents in this area long before Mr Champlain floated up the river.
Rue des Montangais and surrounding streets have some big new chateauesque-ish homes.
Gatineau housing developments are rapidly pushing westward. Todays ride brought me to the frontier of one such development along Boulevard du Plateau. Here one can, or will be able to explore streets named after famous galleries such as Rue du Louvre, Rue du Prado, Rue Glenbow, etc, or roads named after European centres such as Rue de Munich, Rue de Naples, or Rue de Londres, etc. What they have to do with these famous places I do not know as of yet.
Construction is moving so rapidly that houses are popping up on streets that had yet to appear on a MapArt I bought a year ago. So rapid that they haven’t had time to install posts to hold up the new street signs.
On the Gatineau Park Pathway heading back from Frontierland, I noticed someone has painted the symbolic carré rouge along with the plea REVEILLEZ VOUS!
I headed off to Gatineau to check out Rue Deveault, which leads you up to the station where the Wakefield train used to depart. As this article explains, it hasn’t left the station for awhile and seemingly won’t be anytime soon, due to problems with washed out tracks. What I saw was a sad abandoned modern train station.
Across the street, however, was this bright po-mo fire station. I was fortunate enough to be there when various firetrucks were out front testing their emergency lights.
My way back to Ottawa was almost entirely along bike paths, even though Rue Deveault finds itself in the middle of a large industrial area.
Part of the ride takes you along the shores of Lac Leamy. It was disheartening to read about this recent creepy incident, as I have travelled numerous times along the paths that circle the lake and have felt perfectly safe. I would, however, recommend bringing a GPS, as there are a number of twists and unmarked turns along the way.