Bike Rides about Town:
1999 Early Spring Back River Ride


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002


Town of Mount Royal to Sault-au-Recollets

April 11, 1999

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This short three-hour ride was an early example of the new accommodation that Sheryl and I have developed around my cycling, an accommodation that would develop into a way for her to be part of my riding experience, and yet not accompany me on the actual ride. On this day, Sheryl had a meeting of one of her women's groups at a home near the western boundary of Town of Mount Royal. She posed the question, "Would you like to drive me over there with your bike on the car, and take a three-hour ride while I have my meeting?" It seemed like a great idea for an early Spring evening!

Pioneering a New Route

On this ride I would pioneer my new Shortcut to the Back River. Starting from the edge of TMR, I looked for the best way to get to someplace interesting in the time that was allotted. My earlier ride in the Tour de l'Ile with Sheryl, Claudia, and Gilbert had acquainted me with cycling in the area of Sauvé, Tolhurst, and Henri Bourassa. I knew that just one block beyond Henri Bourassa lay Boulevard Gouin and the Back River. I also knew that from Rockland and the l'Acadie Circle, I could connect quickly with Sauvé at l'Acadie. All the pieces seemed to come together.

Heading Out

Click to enlarge
((Taken: Spring 1999))
Crossing the CN Commuter Line at
TMR Town Centre

I left Sheryl and the car at her friend's house on Kimberly, just west of Lucerne at 17:30, and headed east along Kimberly, through Town of Mount Royal, until the street brought me to the center of town. As with most TMR streets, Kimberly was a narrow, quiet and tree-lined residential street. It came out at Graham Boulevard, just shy of the roundabout at TMR's centre. I rode around until I came to the bridge over the commuter line. There, looking south towards the Mountain and Portal Heights, I took my first photo. The whole scene was lit in a golden late-afternoon light.

Coming down off the bridge, I continued on around the roundabout until I reached Laird Boulevard, which was the north-east angle of the giant "X" made by TMR's main streets. Laird came out just shy of the Rockland Shopping Centre. I rode through the parking lot to l'Acadie and crossed over the Metropolitain at the l'Acadie Circle. I continued north on l'Acadie through the industrial area until I crossed under the CN main line just before Sauvé. At Sauvé, I recognized the shopping centre where I had had to bring Business Way computers back in the late 1980s, when we first started doing business with them at work. I turned right onto Sauvé, heading east. The area remained industrial until I passed another underpass, this time under the CP tracks. On the far side, while it remained industrial my right (south), the left-hand side (north), had become residential. I was now in the area I recognized from returning to Claudia & Gilbert's after the Tour de l'Ile.

I came to Tolhurst Street and turned left, up through the residential area, even past Claudia & Gilbert's house, until I came out at Henri Bourassa. I crossed the wide six-laned Henri Bourassa Boulevard and found myself in the quiet, riverfront area along Gouin Boulevard. At Gouin, I picked up the Back River Bike Trail, heading east. Soon I was had passed Pont Viau and was riding along the shoreline of the Rivière des Prairies.

Click to enlarge
((Taken: Spring 1999))
Just past Pont Viau - Looking back west Looking out over the Lake - Towards Dam
Note late afternoon sun and early spring vegetation
 

When I came out at the point where Boulevard Gouin comes out into the open at the bridge over Papineau, I took the bike path that wound around behind the historic church. This brought me into Parc de l'Ile de la Visitation, along the walkway leading across the top of the dam.

Click to enlarge
((Taken: Spring 1999))
Along the CausewayWalkway along Causeway crest
 

Click to enlarge
((Taken: Spring 1999))
Approaching the dam

I rode along the causeway and then around underneath the Papineau Bridge and along the water's edge on Ile de la Visitation until I came to the belvedere. (Bikes were really not supposed to go that way, but the rules were not so heavily enforced then, and the pedestrian path was nearly empty because of the early season.) After a quick look at the belvedere, I rode across the footbridge to the mainland and continued down the river along the main bike trail, approaching the dam.

The rapids below the dam were most impressive, being in the time of extreme Spring flood. Patches of ice could still be seen along the shoreline.


Click to enlarge
((Taken: Spring 1999))
Rapids below the dam
 

Click to enlarge
((Taken: Spring 1999))
Looking upriver below dam
Spring flood levels
The Bike Path along the water
 

I hung around until 06:45, about the time the sun was going down. I rode just far enough east to get a good view back up at the dam, and to see the Pie IX Bridge ahead. I was having a great time, but looking askance at my watch. I did not want to be late getting back.

Click to enlarge
((Taken: Spring 1999))
Dowriver - towards Pie IX Bridge
At turnaround point
 

Click to enlarge
((Taken: Spring 1999))
Quiet Millpond & Church in late evening light

As I started heading back, I had a chance to catch the historic church with its silvery spires lit up by the last rays of sunshine.

In the cool dusk then, I retraced my route. I found that I could not return along Tolhurst, as it was one way. I took, instead, Jeanne Mance, which was the next street over. When I got back to the west side of the Rockland parking lot, I saw that I was early and had some extra time. I stopped, therefore, into the Tim Horton's at Rockland Boulevard and had my supper: Hot Soup, followed by a coffee and doughnut.

It was quite dark as I threaded my way through the dimly lit streets of TMR. I had a moment's pause as I looked for the end of Kimberly. I was back at the car at 08:25, and had just gotten my bike back on the rack when Sheryl came out.

All in all, it was a very pleasant ride!

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Prepared by Roger Kenner
July, November 2002; Lite version: January, 2004