The Lonely Oak

In the middle of the Experimental Farm, just west of Fisher Avenue, sits a big gorgeous solitary oak. Today I biked over to pay it a visit.

I biked past the Experimental Farm greenhouses along the way. This old one is looking great.

Old White Greenhouse

To get up close to the oak tree, you need to ride along the inside of the fence that runs along Fisher avenue, then turn west along an old gravel road that brings you to the tree.

The isolated oak sits in stark contrast to the harvested fields.

Lonely Oak

And if you love Canada geese, this is one place you are likely to find them. There were hundreds in the surrounding fields. Their continuous honking echoed across the open ground, providing an eerie soundscape while contemplating the oaks heavy gnarled surfaces and complex network of leafless branches.

lonely oak up close

Canada Geese in the farm

I continued along the gravel path through the farm heading west until I came to Merivale Road, and then followed the Experimental Farm Pathway to Nepean to cover some residential streets through Centrepointe I had yet to visit. Based on the styles of all the brown brick houses and the height of trees I’d guess the area I biked through was developed in the 80’s and early 90’s.

Many shades of brown brick

On the way back I happened upon the old Nepean City Hall and Centrepointe Theatre. The theatre is still going strong. There was a tone of green strongly adhered to throughout all of the old city’s corporate identity that I’ve come to know as Nepean Green. It is still in evidence on the exterior of the building, as is the old city logo above the entrances.

Centre pointe Theatre & old City Hall

Across the street at the entrance to Centrepointe Park sits this memorial to the late city. The stepped landscape gradually builds centripetally upward towards the fountain. In the middle is mounted a bronze slab, the outline of which describes the boundaries of the old city. On one of the concrete pillars behind the fountain are mounted the dates of the city’s existence (1792-2000) in raised letters set against possibly one of the last applications of Nepean Green.

Memorial to the late City of Nepean

I then hopped onto the network of NCC pathways which led me along our mighty river towards home.

Return to Pleasant Park Woods via the Poets’ Pathway

Yesterday my son had an afternoon hockey game in the Urbandale neighbourhood so I biked there. A section of the Poets’ Pathway passes through nearby Pleasant Park Woods, which I’ve been wanting to re-visit, so I followed their suggested route on the way home. Here’s how the journey panned out.

To get to this part of town I usually ride along the canal, cross over at Hogs Back Falls, bike back down along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway, then cut east along Pleasant Park Road. This I did in reverse on the way home, but today I was running late so I chose a more direct route down Bank Street to get there. Bank Street Bridge over the Rideau River is treacherous on a regular day. Presently it is under construction, making it even more dangerous for bicyclists. Won’t do that again. It’s a spot to avoid.

Bank St Bridge looking south
Made it to the rink on time – that’s my superstar!

Many houses in Urbandale have this interesting pattern of protruding bricks on their front facades.

Architectural outies

This raised paved shoulder straddles Heron Road, which I rode along to get to the start of the Poets’ Pathway. These exist along other busy roads throughout the city as well. Not sure what their intended purpose is. Carla thinks they pave them because nothing worthwhile can grow so close to the side of these busy roads due to the salt and dirt plowed there in the winter. I consider them bike path wannabe’s.

Raised shoulders

The Poets’ Pathway (Walk 8) is along a network of intersecting unmarked trails, which isn’t too confusing since the strip of parkland it follows is relatively narrow, as long as you generally keep heading in the right direction. A compass or gps might be useful.

Most of the trail looks like this….

Lots of room

… until you reach the woods.


It started to rain as I made my way back along Pleasant Park Road, so I pulled out my super water proof gloves purchased at Preston Hardware just the other day for 50¢! I kid you not – 50¢! OK, they lack bling, but they work like a charm. There’s even room for little wooly gloves when it gets colder.

Red Cotes!

Here’s what you’ll be up against if you choose to bike back over the Bank Street Bridge.


Here’s a view of the Rideau you’ll be treated to if you choose to continue along the Rideau River Pathway.


Now that they’ve drained most of the canal, Dow’s Lake is teeming with ducks and Canadian Geese. I’m guessing they are taking advantage of the freshly exposed seaweed. Mmmm, yummy!

Ducks on Dows

Vive la France ! – à Gatineau.

There’s an area east of the Gatineau River where most of the streets are named after French regions, cities or communes. Yesterday morning I biked over and checked some of them out.

Here is the Gatineau River where it flows into the Ottawa River, as seen for the Lady Aberdeen Bridge.

Where rivers meet

From Rue St Louis along the river I turned up the bike lane that runs parallel to Rue de Picardie, (below on the left) which joined this dedicated bike lane along Rue des Flandres (below on the right).

Taking care of bikers

The area is bordered on three sides by the Gatineau River, highway 50 and avenue Gatineau. Based on the styles of houses I’d guess the area was developed in the fifties and sixties.

Modest Modern

Many of the front yards are graced with full deciduous trees looking glorious at this time of year.

Richelieu Park via Gamman House

On Monday afternoon Carla and I headed east to explore Richelieu Park. We took a slight detour along the way to have a peek at Gamman House, purported to be the oldest house in the pre-amalgamated city of Vanier. Here’s the route we followed.

I was anxious to see what shape Gamman House was in, since the image on Google Street view shows it boarded up and seemingly abandoned. According to this article recent plans to turn it into the Ottawa’s Workers’ Heritage Centre Museum have fallen through. When we pedaled up to it I was pleased to discover the exterior in good shape. Renovations are being done on the inside. What it will be used for I don’t know.

UPDATE, April 12, 2013 – Gamman House has been turned into an artists studio!

The Gamman House

On the way to Richelieu Park we came across this eye catching and well preserved old house. A little plaque says it was built in 1923. A sign on the gate post reads ‘CHAT LUNATIQUE’.

Blue House

Further along just before turning up Avenue des Pères Blancs sits this fantastic house with a front yard that pulls out all the stops. UPDATE Summer 2017All the lawn ornaments have sadly been removed.

Bling House

Avenue des Pères Blancs is a nice long street leading up past stone pillars into Richelieu Park.

Entrance to Parc Richelieu

The Pères Blancs is a Catholic Society of Missionairies of Africa whose scholasticate occupied the site of Richelieu Park. They were expropriated by the city of Vanier when the province ordered the city to acquire more park land. This statue of the Virgin Mary left by the missionaries greets visitors as they enter the park.


Sneaking around the back of the building on the right, we came across this impressive communal garden.

Nice Garden

Other vestiges of the Pères’ presence are scattered throughout the Park, like this white cross sitting in amongst the trees.


But the trees themselves are the most memorable offerings the Pères left for us to enjoy – hundreds of sugar maples which continue to be tapped annually, boiled down to maple syrup in their sugar shack, and celebrated during the Spring Maple Sugar Fest. Never been, but I hope to now that I know about it. Here’s the sugar shack.

la cabane à sucre

And here is one of the many paths we followed through the trees.

Biking along

We exited to the East and biked up Saint-Laurent Boulevard. Carla lived in this part of town when she was really young, and remembers this great vintage DQ sign always being there.

Old DQ

Too chilly for ice cream, so we retraced our path down St-Laurent and worked our way back through Beechwood Cemetery, which is extremely picturesque especially at this time of year with all the leaves on the huge trees changing colours. So why didn’t I take any photos? I dunno.

Beechwood Avenue to the north of the cemetery is a nice street but not so great for biking. Cars go fast and there isn’t much of a shoulder.

So if you don’t find it too creepy, biking through the cemetery is a much better option.

Central Experimental Farm Family Outing

I love re-visiting favourite routes with friends and family, so yesterday I led a bunch of kinfolk down paths through the Central Experimental Farm. Here’s where we went.

We started at the western end of the farm where my sister lives.

Off we go
Start of the path through the forest parallel to Fisher
First stop – swap box in the middle of the woods

My sister discovered this swap box a few days ago while biking to work. She knew I’d be interested as we have our own homemade one in front of our house. Turns out both share the same inspiration – the fabulous artist Elmaks, who used to mount his own wonderful boxes throughout the city. The folks who made this one did so in honour of him. You can read all about it here.

We approached the box all prepared. We swapped a mini skate boarder figurine, little rubber duck and party horn, for a dog poop bag (empty of course), a sketch book with mini pen, and a marble dispenser. That’s my talented young artist nephew on the left who is studying in Montreal. That’s my very talented architect sister on the right who works in Ottawa. And that’s my extremely fantastic but a little bit shy daughter in the middle.

Swap time!

Next stop was the Canadian Organic Growers Demonstration Garden which my brother-in-law told us to look out for. It sits on the edge of the Ornamental Gardens, and consists of a wonderful display of various types of beds, including a rockery, perrenial bed, herb bed, fruit bed and fragrance bed. There’s even a bed of plants attractive to bees and butterflies, and all organically grown. They’ve got free pamphlets available from a dispenser at the entrance to the garden that tell you all about it.

Organic Garden

Next we headed down Morningside Lane. In various locations along the edge of the larger farm plots are maps such as this one just off Morningside Lane explaining what’s been planted in the surrounding fields.

Experimental plantings

After crossing Prince of Wales Drive we headed over to the Fletcher Field Wildlife Garden.

Fletcher Wildlife Garden

A narrow path with interpretive signs meanders through this intimate natural garden, so intimate and sensitive that I recommend walking versus riding along it. It’s a short path and well worth the stroll.

Fletcher Field Interpretation

And finally, the Arboretum, my favorite part of the Experimental Farm. Wonderful wide trails meander past all sorts of trees, familiar and exotic. There’s a map here explaining the various groupings of trees, or this book published by the Friends of the Farm which also serves as a guide through the Arboretum.

Biking through the Arboretum

And finally home, where our own happy swap box was there to greet us upon our safe return.

Derailleur Disaster

Google maps shows a bike trail starting off on the east side of Riverside Drive, just south of Rivergate Way. When I got there this evening it was blocked by a locked gate, the chain link fence kind. The paved trail was further obstructed by a fallen tree about 10 yards beyond. I had noticed a small uncharted path a bit further north along Riverside Drive, so I followed that instead, anticipating it would eventually lead me to the blocked off trail.

Path up from Riverside Drive

This was an unmarked mystery path, which looked alot like this most of the way.


Eventually it did become wider, confirming my instincts I was on the right scent. I had just passed another bicyclist who was out with his dog when disaster struck. A stick got caught in my derailleur and busted it right off, like so.

I carried my bike to the corner of Uplands and Country Club Drive, sent a drop pin to my super partner Carla, and waited to be picked up.

While waiting I sent a photo of the damage to Mike, my bike-whizz-bro-in-law, asking if he thought the repair was within my skill set, or whether I should ask a pro. Regardless, I am desperate to get back in the saddle. “sigh….”

Ottawa River Loop

There are a couple of small streets I had yet to cover on the other side of Pont Champlain, so this evening I biked along the Ottawa side of the river to get there, and then back home along the Gatineau side.

The streets in question are just off Chemin d’Aylmer right after you cross the bridge. Now Chemin d’Aylmer is a very spooky road to bike on at anytime, which is probably why it has taken me this long to visit, but I’m glad I did. Chemin Berkley-Powell is a quiet little promenade with vines inching onto the road on either side. They must look great in the Fall when their leaves turn bright red. It’s a dead end, but I zipped up a dirt path back onto Chemin d’Aylmer.

Chemin Berkley-Powell.

I only had to bike a little further before arriving at my next destination, Rue d’Augusta. Turns out it’s the entrance to a new development called Château Golf with a big stone gate. It’s right across the street from the Royal Ottawa Golf Club which is where this ball must have come from. I found it in the grass while pausing to take this photo.


Beyond the stone gate entrance are these sorts of buildings. All the exteriors are done in warm tones.

Château Golf

Back along the river, just west of the bridge, the exposed rock river bed has this incredible pattern.

Riverbed pattern

‘Twas truly a glorious evening for a bike ride ….