We’re not big crowd fans. We’d rather be on our own on days like Canada Day, than be with 500,000 others in down town Ottawa. There is not much attraction in seeing people with flags wrapped around their shoulders and belting out “O Canada’ at any given moment, in pubs, in buses, walking along the road or sitting in parks.
But it is a day off, the weather was nice and that makes for a good bike ride. To stick to the Canada Day theme, we thought we should cycle past about 20 national treasures in the Nation’s capital. We were not the only ones, there were large numbers of cyclists of all stripes out today.
We live in an older suburb, just south of the Experimental Farm; it is only just over a kilometer to get to the Farm, where the roads are closed on days like this. Cycling eastbound drops us quickly at the Arboretum and the Rideau Canal, a World Heritage Site.
Cycling north, the Arboretum path ends at Dow’s Lake north end. You have to share the road a bit on Preston, but than you quickly turn left into Adeline to the path along the O-train. This part is still muddy, but in two years the entire path will be ready. Adeline will also soon connect to Hickery St across the tracks through a 5 meter wide foot and bicycle bridge.
Further north, the path is ready and connects with the path along the Ottawa river.
This brings you at the War Museum. Crossing Booth, you’ll start to see the Parliament Buildings. There is an intricate route to go underneath the Brutalist knot of Pont de Portage, but eventually you end up on a gorgeous path that runs along the cliff of the Parliament buildings. On your right is the Supreme Court of Canada, on your left the new Royal Canadian Navy monument. (Here is an entire post on it).
Across the Ottawa river lies the
Canadian Museum of Civilisation Museum of Canadian History Canadian Museum of History (Canadian history only, even though the new name implies it covers all history).
A few hundred meters west is the start of the Rideau Canal with its locks. Tons of people were out there watching the boats or just enjoying the views. We just happened to see the fly-over by the Snowbirds Demonstration Team.
After all this national eye candy, it is time to meet the crowds at the bottom of Nepean’s point and the National Art Gallery, currently wrapped in an ice berg print, while redoing the glass tower.
The road to Alexandra bridge was closed and a bit confusing, we were not sure if we could actually bike on the road there, but no one seemed to bother. (we were going 8 km/hr or so); large amounts of people appeared to walk around aimlessly.
Then it is time to hit Sussex East bound, looping around the Peace Monument, passing the Byward Market, the Currency Museum, several embassies, the National Research Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs. This part is not very bicycle friendly, but on calm days, it is doable. Past the intersection with King Edward, the road narrows and their are bike lanes again. On the left hand, we passed the Prime Minister’s house, and past the roundabout on the right the house of the Governor General, Rideau Hall.
Sussex Drive turns into the Rockcliffe Parkway (note the small symbolic rail road track in the centre of the second roundabout you’ll pass there) and you are on a bike path again. This one leads all the way to the Aviation Museum.
The National Capital commission just finished a brand new gorgeous path on along the river high up on the cliff. The super heavy metal guard rails seems to be a tad overdesigned in good NCC fashion, but you don’t hear me complaining. Especially as the rest of the route doesn’t have the guards, so why bother with the few hundred meters all of a sudden.
Following the path, you’ll end up at our Aviation Museum. It is worth taking a look inside, even if you are not a plane buff like me. We find the oldest planes and the bush planes worth watching.
Down the Aviation Pathway it went, to drop in at friends with a pool near the Montfort Hospital; we are now 16 km (10 miles) from home. They weren’t home, but we did stop at the Ontario Francophonie monument for French Canadians who live in Ontario (mostly east of Ottawa).
We backtracked a bit to Holmwood, which is going to be part of the Ottawa cross town bike corridor. It was also time for a drink and a snack. Virtually everything is closed on Canada Day, but the pub in New Edinburgh was open. After a cold Pepsi (I prefer Coke actually) and veggies and pita in hummus (West meets East in Ottawa), we cycled along the Rideau River to the Cummings Bridge (Montreal Road bridge). I tend to call the bridges after the road, like the Hunt club bridge which is actually called the Michael J.E. Sheflin bridge, but no one knows that).
We cut through Sandy Hill (glass in the bike lane, moving truck in the bike lane) on Stewart, over the Mackenzie King bridge that was packed with people, past the War Monument towards that other great Canadian pride: the Laurier Bike Lane. Half way the bike lane there was a car parked (“My husband is in the hotel” as if that is an excuse) and we stopped at the urban garden plots at Nanny Goat Hill opposite the condos on Laurier.
Across Bronson, people from the Elisabeth Briere Long Term care facility were hanging around with locals on the corner of Ottawa’s only woonerf and Primrose for a BBQ.
The rest of the trip was uneventful and partly the same as the way in. Very few people flag in Ottawa. You’ll see the the odd flag hanging out of a window but the image you get of Ottawa if you watch TV at night is really only of two blocks of party goers on Parliament Hill.
Here is the route. We started in the lower left corner in Fisher Heights, the route is about 30 km. It is about 6 km in and out to the start of the loop from our house, so the actual loop is about 25 km, give or take a kilometer.