Exploring Gracefield, Quebec: the paved railway track to the butcher

Empty stores, despite tons of free parking. Mmm, is lack of parking not the reason for disappearing businesses after all?
Empty stores, and you can't blame the lack of parking

Nothing beats the winterblues than sunny summer pictures. After my last two posts on bike modal shares in Ottawa based on the Statscan census, we are going to take a look at a paved path near Gracefield in rural Quebec.

This fall, we went out for a bike ride a bit further away from Ottawa at a place called Gracefield in Quebec. It required a considerable drive, about 100 km north of Ottawa. We used to visit a cottage at Lac Pemichangan at Thirtyone Mile Lake, but since the owners passed away and the cottage was sold, we don’t really go to that part of Quebec anymore. Why go all the way there then, you may ask. Mostly for a change of scenery and to check out this new paved path,  the “Veloroute des Draveur” (Log drivers: log driving was a super dangerous job, read more on Wikipedia). Gracefield has paved about 20 km of a former railway track west and north of Gracefield, along Blue Sea to Messines.

Railway tracks

Generally Karen and I are not big fans of cycling on abandoned railway tracks: we find them a bit boring (lots of trees on each side) but in a somewhat more populous area, relatively speaking, and a lake here and there it is worth trying it out. We made it a day outing, brought our own lunch and had an ice cream at the end of the day.

Clearly, it is a bit of a touristy thing, because it doesn’t really connect two major hubs, but if you are uncomfortable riding on roads, this is a good place to try out cycling and become more comfortable on a bike. I can also see that some of the locals and cottagers living outside Gracefield might find it attractive enough to bike into town and back instead of taking a car once in a while.

Another good thing is that Gracefield actually recognised cycling as an activity that might attract people. Chapeau!

Here is my Strava recording:
It looks a bit remote on the map and it is definitely not Europe, but there is still enough to see. Here is a photo impression of the path and the environment of rural Quebec.

We started at the parking lot in Gracefield.
We started at the parking lot in Gracefield
The start of the path
The start of the path
Gates to keep quads etc of the path. A bit dumm to paint them green
Gates to keep quads etc of the path. A bit dumm to paint them green
Lac Blue Sea
Great for kids to learn how to bike, they were all singing
Another hint that quads are not welcome. Makes you wonder...
Another hint that quads are not welcome. Makes you wonder…
Rural Quebec is not a busy place....
Rural Quebec is not a busy place….
At the butcher in Messines whose store is at the north end of the paved route. Note the home made bike rack. You can use the picnic tables even if you don’t buy anything from the butcher
He sells home made sandwiches.
He sells home made sandwiches
Resting station, perhaps based on an old railway station?
Bygone era that will never come back I fear
Bygone era that will never come back I fear
Someone's life line to civilisation
Someone’s life line to civilisation: above ground phone lines
We cycled a bit further beyond the paved path and this is how it looks like on both ends. Some of you might have cycled the path in the past.

A quick stop in Gracefield

At the end fo the day we did a few km extra in Gracefield. It appears the town is hanging in there thanks to its somewhat regional responsibility, but man is it ever another world than my small town in the Netherlands where I grew up.

Back in Gracefield: Hard ICe Cream:
Back in Gracefield: Hard Ice cream: “Maple Wall nut” & “Butterscoth”
Nothing says Rural Quebec then duct tape and a horse shoe in one photo.
Main street Gracefield. The businesses have moved to the highway one block over.
Main street Gracefield. The businesses have moved to the highway one block over. The Gatineau river is 100 meters to the right. In theory it is a little paradise
A photo I took for Eric Darwin: midrise on main street
A photo I took for Eric Darwin: midrise on main street
Empty stores, despite tons of free parking. Mmm, is lack of parking not the reason for disappearing businesses after all?
Empty stores, despite tons of free parking

Hans

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