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.
The initial section of the NCC Voyageur Pathway is reflective of the Chaudière rapids it follows – twisty with lots of ups and downs. The path smoothens out a bit before reaching the Deschênes Rapids, where you can pause and take in ruins of an old dam while looking out across the rapids.
A bit further on just above the rapids, one can admire the vastness the Ottawa River.
At this point the path veers inland, where you come upon a whole new development built over the last few years in the section of town called Wychwood. A friend told me that it had never previously been developed because it was on a flood plane. A bit further on I biked through the original housing area of Wychwood – a diverse mix of houses built over many years. Very intimate and human scale. Weaving my way along various streets, I arrived at the Symmes Inn Museum. Something to go back and visit some day. Right across the street was this interesting derelict building.
Heading back on Rue Principale I was reminded that la Fête nationale would soon be upon us.
UPDATE 2017:I recently re-visited the path along Boulevard de la Vérendrye, indicated on the map below, and was very pleased to see that the majority of it has been repaved and drastically improved over the last couple of years, particularly east of highway 50.
I biked a section of the path along Boulevard La Vérendrye, heading east from where it crosses Boulevard Gréber. It was a gradual climb, past housing and businesses on either side.
I continued along La Vérendrye after the path ended at Rue Main, then scooted down Boulevard Labrosse down to the edge of the Ottawa river. As I headed along a bike path beside the shore, I discovered a little foot path to a beach of small boulders and the remains of a well used fire pit. Crossing the path is a concrete sidewalk, a ghostly remain of some settlement in this area, now overgrown.
A bit further along Boulevard de la Gappe I happened upon La maison de la Culture. Across the street is the Cégep de l’Outaouais Félix-Leclerc campus, on one wall of which is painted this clever graffiti trompe l’oeil.
Most of the small Gatineau residential streets looked like this. Many garage sales.
To get to and from the eastern side of Gatineau I take the NCC bike path along the river shore on the Outaouais side. One section in Jacques Cartier Park is a raised board walk. I love this portion of the path, as it hovers above the waters edge, and allows for wonderful views such as this.
I chose a route through Gatineau that took me past the dépanneur on rue Laramée whose owner recently fought off two robbers with bear spray, spanking one of them as he jumped over the counter. Click here for more.