After completing my usual routine at the Carp branch and cycling back out past the barbed-wire Diefenbunker fence, I proceeded north on Carp Road toward my final destination for the day: Fitzroy Harbour and the provincial park next door.
This is quite a pleasant drive, riding along some gentle country hills with a few twists and turns along the way. From the bike it was a little dodgier, with an unpaved shoulder and fast cars.
Midway to Fitzroy Harbour, somewhere between the Thomas A. Dolan Parkway and Kinburn Side Road, I veered off onto the gravel and skidded onto the pavement, suffering my first-ever road rash (not pictured, probably a good thing). Traffic was non-existent, and I was able to brush myself off and apply a makeshift dressing to the bigger gashes on my left shin. Thank you, little first aid kit! I was more-or-less OK, the bike seemed fine, and I tentatively set off again with a bit more attention to the edge of the road.
The Fitzroy Harbour branch is co-located with the community centre and was very quiet, although I did see some residents using the wi-fi in the parking lot. Fitzroy Harbour is a charming community, and I spent some time riding around before heading to the park.
It was just a short ride to Fitzroy Provincial Park, which I entered from a pathway in the town rather than the main entrance. I was able to check in easily enough and set up my campsite with ample time to kick up my feet and relax before nightfall. The ebike was fabulous for hauling firewood and kindling (two separate trips to the Park Store) and my portable hammock was a major addition this time around. I finished one ebook from OPL, started another, and had a very enjoyable evening.
When this project started back in June, I was curious but apprehensive about the Carp-Fitzroy Harbour-Constance Bay loop. Pros: Camping! Carp! Cons: Hills! I fretted and fretted, worried that I’d bitten off more than I could chew by proposing to haul all of my gear up and down the rolling hills of West Carleton. Then I met Barb and Kevin.
Barb and Kevin are e-bike enthusiasts. The gears started to turn in my head. Could I make this trip more bearable using the magic power of “E”?
Once I’d determined that 1. my blog, my rules, and 2. yes, I really did want to try this, I made a 24 hour reservation at Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals on Sparks Street. They have a fleet of bikes, both e- and not, for rent and we were able to find a good one for my needs.
Once the bike piece was in place, I then turned my mind to the logistics of getting downtown to the rental place. This fretting was out loud to my friend Mary, who graciously offered to be my driver and motivator this weekend. It takes a village, as they say.
I cruised out of town on the SJAM parkway, tentatively futzing with the bike’s various levels of “assist”. I was full of energy, and had enough steam to keep it on “off” and “eco” for most of the ride to Carp, hoping to save the battery for later in the tour.
I emerged from the trail network in a very quiet Kanata business park (COVID + Saturday will do that, I suppose). The occasional car passed by, ruining the ghost town illusion.
I proceeded through Kanata, enjoying paved pathways and quiet roads. Once in the country again, the roads were more hit-or-miss, but generally fairly quiet, with the occasional cyclist passing by. I rolled into town on Donald B. Munro Drive, passing the Ridge Rock Brewery, and then gleefully rode up the Carp Road hill on “turbo” mode. Good call to go with this electric bicycle, I’d say.
I stopped for a late lunch at the Alice’s Village Café walk-up window, then sat down and ate on their back gazebo. As I saw later on Twitter, it turns out I wasn’t the only cyclist enjoying a day in Carp.
One of my go-to places to bring out-of-town guests is the Diefenbunker Museum (what can I say, my guests are usually history buffs who enjoy a good meal at Alice’s). The four-storey Cold War era bunker, built in Carp between 1959-1961, was operational until 1994 and designed to keep 535 key government and military personnel safe for 30 days in the event of a nuclear attack. The museum opened in 1997.
The library is located in a former Canadian Forces building near the entrance to the bunker. I’m not sure if the big windows were later additions, but together with the well-kept gardens it all looked quite charming. Carp branch is another with a sculpture of two people sitting on a bench enjoying a book (I’ll really need to make a special gallery of those).
After a long week, I felt that a post-supper pedal into town would do me some good. I set off for Rideau Branch without a route in mind, happy to explore a bit and see where I ended up.
After cycling through the farm, I cruised along Dow’s lake and the Rideau Canal Western Pathway. There were several people out on the water enjoying the sunny evening.
I crossed the canal at the University of Ottawa, and rode through a very quiet campus into Sandy Hill. From there, it was just a short ride down to Rideau Street to find the library.
Rideau branch was my local library for my first five years in Ottawa, and I have fond memories of walking over and picking up my holds.
I took a detour through the market for an ice cream cone, then rode west along Wellington Street to visit LAC and the site of the new joint library.
I then continued west along Albert Street, then turned onto the Trillium Pathway through Little Italy and onto Carling Avenue.
Carling Avenue was a little steeper than I remembered, but I was able to crawl up the bus lane without too much traffic. Once I crested the hill, it was a quick ride past the Civic Hospital to Fisher Avenue, where I rode back to the farm in the sunset.
[ This is part two of a two-part ride to Hazeldean and Stittsville branches. ]
After spending the morning riding to Hazeldean with Barb and Kevin, I bid them adieu and continued down the rail trail toward Stittsville, or as my uncle likes to call it, St. Ittsville. It was a straight line into the centre of town, with the pathway running alongside Abbott Street as I rode in.
While this is mostly a bike and library blog, I can’t help but let you know that a driving force behind my impromptu trip to Stittsville was Quitters Coffee and the Redd’s Ice Cream trailer behind it.
After a very tasty lunch, I continued south on Stittsville Main Street to find the library.
After taking my requisite photos, I headed back to the trail, continuing along the pavement on Abbott Street before dipping back onto the Trans Canada Trail to ride back to Kanata.
I retraced my route back to Bells Corners, where I opted to come off the trail and take an alternate route home. I rode down Robertson Road, then turned into a residential neighbourhood to cross the 416 near Bell High School.
I’d intended to retrace the same route home as my ride to Centennial branch, winding around Bruce Pit before re-emerging in Nepean. But then I didn’t (let’s blame the GPS). I unintentionally did some off-roading best suited to a mountain bike but did eventually emerge in a workable spot.
When I emerged from the brush near Banner Road, I realized that I was close to Greenbank Road and could ride home past Sir Robert Borden High School, through Centrepointe and finally City View. I reached my front door just as sprinkles of rain started to fall, signalling the beginning of a summer rain shower.
[ This is part one of a two-part ride to Hazeldean and Stittsville branches. ]
When I started this project back in early June, I inadvertently found a gang of library people on a similar mission. You’re met Jane, who is sharing photos on this blog. Today I rode to Hazeldean with Barb and Kevin.
After finding each other at the Remic Bistro, we rode west along the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, taking advantage of the NCC’s NOKIA Sunday Bikedays program. Near Mud Lake, we turned off of the SJAM to proceed along the Ottawa River Pathway toward Britannia Beach.
After snapping a few photos and admiring Barb and Kevin’s new ebikes, we hopped back onto the path. At Andrew Haydon Park, we crossed Carling Avenue to follow the Watts Creek Pathway / Trans Canada Trail through Bayshore toward Moodie Drive. The Queensway and Transitway were nearby, but we cruised along happily on our protected path.
After crossing back under the Queensway, we followed the trail network to Bells Corners. I’ve driven under the rail overpass on Robertson Road many times, but always figured it was for, well, rail. It was at some point, like several of the trails I’ve featured in this blog, but in 2020 it is a nice pea gravelled bike and pedestrian crossing above a busy thoroughfare.
From Bells Corners, the pathway continues in a straight line all the way to Kanata, with the gentle grade that rail trails often have. Before long, the trio arrived in Kanata, and once off the pathway, it was a quick zig zag through a residential neighbourhood to find Hazeldean branch on Castlefrank Road.
To the my non-expert eye, Hazeldean branch is solidly constructed (dare I say, bunker-esque?) with cool angles and close proximity to the Glen Cairn Community Centre, Pool and Tennis Club. Barb filled me in on the renovations that happened here in 2012, and both remembered attending the post-reno reopening.
After looking around and taking our photos, I hemmed and hawed about proceeding onward to Stittsville. I hadn’t originally planned to, but I was reminded that it was only a quick ride down the path and that Quitters Coffee shares a large outdoor patio with an ice cream shop. It didn’t take much convincing. We rode back to the pathway, bid each other farewell, and I continued west.
Having spent most of the day indoors, I was looking forward to a little pre-supper bike ride and social visit. To Elmvale Acres!
I left my neighbourhood and cruised through the farm as usual, then continued onto Heron Road to the entrance to Vincent Massey Park. I then followed the Rideau River Eastern Pathway through the park, past Carleton, and along Riverside Drive to Smyth Road.
I left the pathway at Smyth Road, and cycled up the hill along the bike lane into Alta Vista. If you like hospitals and schools, have I got the road for you.
My friend and fellow library person Jessica was waiting on her front lawn with cool drinks. I should really bike to Elmvale Acres more often.
Jessica and family are frequent visitors to Elmvale Acres branch, and they showed me some of their favourite cookbooks (presciently checked out pre-pandemic). Vowing to give “Cake Magic” a try someday, I said goodbye and headed down the street to the library.
Elmvale Acres is located in a large plaza with a grocery store, liquor store, pharmacy and several other services and restaurants. I did a quick tour of the parking lot (under construction) and headed back around the building.
I chose not to cycle back along Smyth, opting instead for Pleasant Park Road. This proved to be much more pleasant. Pleasant Park ends at Riverside Drive, where there was a connection to rejoin the Rideau River Eastern Pathway.
I followed the same route home, passing Carleton and Vincent Massey Park before turning toward the farm.
[ This is part two of a two part trip to Cumberland and Orléans branches. ]
After my poutine lunch, I was glad to get moving to Orléans branch. From Tenth Line Road, I rode along Des Épinettes Avenue, then made a left turn onto Jeanne-d’Arc Boulevard. Once on Orléans Boulevard, the library appeared quickly.
This branch has a funky 90s styling, complete with teal and burgundy accents and a geometric Chasse-galerie canoe sculpture. My best fact about the branch is that the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library have a self-serve book sale area called, get this, Encore. Easily one of my top three FOPLA second-hand bookshop names. (Other personal favourites are: Well Read at Carlingwood and Déjà Vu at North Gloucester).
After taking a few moments to look around, I headed for Innes Road to continue my ride home. While the scenic route along the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway was a lovely way to get to Orléans, the time window was quickly closing and I chose a more direct route back. That route (mistakingly) involved taking the yucky Blackburn Hamlet Bypass instead of continuing along Innes through the hamlet itself. Lesson learned!
From Innes Road, I turned onto Cyrville Road, then onto Coventry, then across the Belfast Road Bridge to Tremblay Road near the Via Rail station. I then followed the bike path network toward Lees campus.
From Lees, I followed the bike path network to Greystone Village and the Saint Paul University campus. I then turned onto Main Street, then Clegg Avenue, and cycled home along the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway.
I crossed the canal at Carleton, and continued home through the farm.
Seventeen branches down, 16 to go. (Over halfway!)
[ This is part one of a two part trip to Cumberland and Orléans branches. ]
Despite all forecasts to the contrary, I awoke to a rain-free Sunday morning and figured, as you do, why not Orléans? Jane had wisely recommended that I try this ride on a Sunday morning when the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway would be closed for the NOKIA Sunday Bikedays, and I was eager to try it out.
I took my usual route downtown through the farm, then onto the Trillium Pathway to Somerset Street, then Bronson Avenue to Laurier Avenue. I stopped for a brief look at the new Queensway bridge installed over the Trillium Line earlier this month.
While I normally work on the downtown campus of the University of Ottawa, close to all of these landmarks, it’s been months since I’ve been back to see them in person. (Pandemics, man.) From the train station, I turned left onto Sussex Drive to ride along the Byward Market.
I rode past the National Gallery, said hello to Maman, and continued north toward the Ottawa River. Shortly after the gallery, Sussex Drive turns eastward, and I continued my ride past Old City Hall on Green Island.
I rode past 24 Sussex Drive, technically home to Canada’s Prime Minister, though I understand that Justin and family are in fact living across the street at Rideau Hall these days due to the house’s bad state of disrepair (unfortunately, renovations are, shall we say, a politically-sensitive issue). Beyond Rideau Hall, the bike path turns into the forested Spruce Hill park for a spell before re-emerging along the Ottawa River.
I joined the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, then cruised along with lots of space to maintain separation between cyclists, rollerbladers and runners. Midway through the Greenbelt, the Parkway intersects with a bike path leading farther east. I enjoyed this greenery very much.
I audibly exclaimed my joy at passing the “Bienvenue à Orléans” sign, then proceeded through a residential neighbourhood, then onto another pathway leading to Tenth Line Road. I crossed the highway, audibly swore my way up the big hill, and quickly found Cumberland Branch at the summit.
I took a few moments to walk around the branch, desperately wishing I could go for a swim in the Ray Friel Recreation Centre pool next door. It took me about two hours to get to Cumberland, so I was also hungry and ready for lunch. Fortunately, the good people of Orléans had just the thing.
After eating lunch on a rock behind the strip mall, I sourced myself a Gatorade in the Metro and set out for Orléans branch.
I’d been saving some “quick win” branches near my home for precisely days like this one: wet and rainy. I set out across the farm on Saturday morning to visit Rosemount branch in Hintonburg.
My route took me east across the farm, north on Fisher Avenue, then a little wiggle to Holland Avenue. Rosemount branch is undergoing a large renovation project at the moment, so OPL have set up a storefront location on Wellington Street West (next to the very charming West Park Bowling). The Rosemount library itself is around the corner on (no surprise here) Rosemount Avenue.
From Rosemount branch, I continued south to Gladstone Avenue, turned left at Parkdale Avenue, and then took Tyndall Street back to Holland.
I retraced my route along Holland Avenue, wiggled back over to Fisher Avenue, then turned toward home on the Experimental Farm Pathway.
When Jane and I both realized that we were on the same quest to bike to Ottawa’s library branches, we hoped that our paths would eventually cross. On a hot Thursday morning in early July, the stars aligned and we decided to cycle together to North Gloucester.
I set out across the farm as usual, then down the Prince of Wales hill to Carling Avenue. I hadn’t spent much time biking along Carling before, and am not sure I would choose to again if not on a quiet Sunday morning ride. The bike path is shared with a bus lane with several stops along the road.
I rode through the Glebe on Glebe Avenue, which was fairly sleepy at 9 am. I emerged at Patterson’s Creek, then biked north along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway to the uOttawa O-Train station to meet Jane.
We set out to Somerset Street East to cross Sandy Hill, then stopped at the Adàwe Crossing for a bridge selfie before continuing across the Rideau River to Overbrook. While the official bike route runs along McArthur Avenue to the North, we decided to carry on in a straight line along Donald Street instead. Just past St-Laurent Boulevard, we reached a T-junction at Cummings Avenue, then cycled south to Ogilvie Road.
These are big, wide arterial streets. We were able to join an unprotected bike lane along Ogilvie, and I was glad that the traffic wasn’t too heavy.
It turns out that Jane and I have similar “rituals” too — taking a picture of our bikes near the entrance, maybe a sign or two, and any public art that strikes our fancy. North Gloucester has a bookish logo, presumably a pre-amalgamation artifact, and plenty of colourful art.
After a coffee break at Starbucks, we retraced our route west on Ogilvie Road, then continued past the St-Laurent Shopping Centre to join the bike route across the Belfast Road bridge toward Hurdman.
Our routes home branched at Hurdman, so I bid Jane farewell and proceeded along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway to Heron Road, then into the farm and home.