Bike Rides about Town:
Back River & Bout de l'Ile Ride
Summer 1999 Part 3


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002


[Go back to Part Two] [Return to Menu]
(See Copyright Notice on Menu Page)
[Bout de l'Ile] [Pointe aux Trembles] [Montreal East] [Bellerive] [St-Jean-de-Dieu]
[Longue Pointe] [Maisonneuve/Hochelaga] [Pied du Courant]

[In this Lite Version, all the maps and links to supplementary sources have been removed]


Back River & Bout de l'Ile Ride: Saturday, June 5, 1999
Part Three: Bout de l'Ile to Pied du Courant

Bout de l'Ile

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Bout de l'Ile Park

Leaving Harvey's and Repentigny after lunch, I rode back over the Le Gardeur Bridge to Montreal along the bike path/sidewalk, which was on the south side. This put me in a perfect position to cut to the left onto 100th Street and ride down along the back streets to its intersection with Bureau Street.

It is at this point that one finds the tiny Bout de l'Ile Park, nestled in behind the parking lot of a new apartment building. The park starts off about a hundred feet wide, sheltered by tall elm trees, with the river on both sides, and narrows quickly to a point. That point is the easternmost tip of the Island of Montreal. A bike trail leads right through the park and ends abruptly as the bank. Any unwary cyclist would find themself right in the river! The park is a very quiet and fairly empty place, well out of the way of major traffic. I am sure most people do not even know of its existence. When I first came upon this place in 1989, there was no park. Behind the new parking lot was just an empty field and a stand of trees. I long hoped they would preserve the area as a park, and I was glad when they finally did so.

I got to the park around 13:40 and stayed around for about twenty minutes, enjoying the solitude and checking out the view downriver with my field glasses. It was 14:00 when I finally set out on my way.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Bout de l'Ile Park
from bridge
Looking down St. Lawrence
from Bout de l'Ile
 

Vignette: There has been a small settlement at Bout de l'Ile since at least the 1700s, as this was the location of the ferry leading people off the Island, to continue their way along Le Chemin du roi. Later, it became a regular stop on the for steamboats. When the Montreal Terminal Railway extended tram service all the way out to the end of the Island at the end of the nineteenth century, Bout de d'Ile suddenly became a favourite Sunday picnic spot for city families. A hotel was built right at the tram terminus. Not much later, the Richelieu Race track was opened. The area was incorporated as the town of Laval-de-Montreal, but was soon annexed by Pointe-aux-Trembles. The highway bridge was not completed until 1938.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Bout de l'Ile: Terrasse Bellerive:
Marina in channel

Leaving the park, I rode west along Bureau Street, following the "bike trail" signs which the city had installed to guide cyclists along the quiet streets. The addresses all around me were in the 16,400s. There was both a mix of quite old and very new housing. It was clear that a lot of new residential development was happening in this area. It was the first time I had headed west along Bureau. On earlier visits ('95, '92, '89) I had come and gone by way of 100th Street. It had not appeared that anything interesting lay down along Bureau Street. This time, however, I was committed to following the "bike trail" signs as much as possible.

At 93rd Street, the bike trail signs bade me turn right and ride up a block towards Notre Dame. At the foot of 93rd Street, a half block the other direction, was the marina. When I got out to Notre Dame, I found that 93rd came out still on the frontage road, called Ste. Maria-Goretti, as I was not yet clear of the Sherbrooke/Notre Dame interchange. The frontage road rejoined Notre Dame at the intersection of Raul John Street, where there is a traffic light. Figuring I was done with that neighbourhood, I headed west along Notre Dame, along side the railroad tracks. On all my previous rides, I had pretty well stayed on Notre Dame,

When I got to 86th Street, however, another bike trail sign suggested I could head left, back towards the river. I decided to check it out and followed 86th Street back to the shoreline. It ended at Bellerive Street, which ran both east and west along the shoreline. All around me were the signs of a brand new housing development. I was intrigued by the fact that the Bellerive headed east, and so decided to backtrack to see what lay in that direction. I came out once more at 93rd & Bureau. I saw that, instead of following the bike trail sign directing me out to Notre Dame, I should have turned left, towards the marina and the river. The pavement on the one-block extension of Bellerive through to 93rd Street hardly seemed dry. There was, as yet, no street sign.

Thus, at 93rd & Bureau, I should have turned left, to catch Bellerive down towards the river. Bellerive would have taken me west alonside the water. The whole area was a strange mix of the very old and the very new. I think what they did with Bellerive Street is to build a street to connect the ends of what had once been a series of culs-de-sac. Eventually, I got back to 86th & Bellerive, where I had started my backtracking.

The bike path continued west from there along Bellerive, marked off at the left hand (river) side of the street by green poles. Bellerive itself remained a very quiet street. Across the channel I could see the tiny shacks which served as residences on the big island known as Ile Ste. Thérèse. At one time, there had been quite a community on the big island, but it had dispersed and now there was little but overgrown pastures. Small pleasure boats moved up and down the channel, which was fairly narrow. The main part of the St. Lawrence, and the marked channel for ocean-going vessels lay out of sight, on the oppostite side of Ile Ste. Thérèse.

At 81st Street, Bellerive came to an end and, after taking a last look upriver at the park, I was forced to head inland, back towards Notre Dame.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Looking West from park along Bellevive
near 81st Street
Last Access to water before turning
inland at 81st Ave.
 

Pointe aux Trembles

There was no bike trail indication when I got back to Notre Dame, so I decided to turn left and head west along the main street, which at this points was a busy four-laned boulevard. 80th and 79th Street were culs-de-sac lead off towards the river. After that the river side was occupied by large estates.

Suddenly, I came upon a bike path as it abruptly joined Notre Dame from the right. It was 14:30 and I felt I had plenty of time, so left my forward track and took off to explore this new development. The path led off at a right angle from Notre Dame for one block, then it turned east and went along behind the backs of the houses, alongside the CN main line, through a sheltered corridor. Soon I had backtracked all the way to 81st Street. The reason I had not seen any bike trail signs when I had reached Notre Dame is that the city fathers had intended I continue straight along 81st, crossing Notre Dame, until I reached this point. 81st Street actually continues on, all the way to Sherbrooke Street

By 14:40 I was back where I had started detour, at the point where the bike path met Notre Dame from the right. On my earlier rides, in '95 and '92, I had noticed these bike paths off to the right of the main road along Notre Dame, but I had not explored them.

Continuing west along Notre Dame, the bike path lay along the right side of the street, in a special lane protected by concrete barriers and well marked. For quite a ways I was deep in the woods, with a dark forest of tall trees to the right and overgrown bush to the left, on the river side. It was not until I got to 65th Street that the city started in earnest again, on both sides of the street. Even then, the built-up area to my right extended for only a block, coming to an end at the railroad tracks. Beyond the tracks was open country. I continued to pass, on the river side, a number of small streets, each ending in a cul-de-sac at the water's edge.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Bike Path along Notre Dame
past Hawthorne-Dale - near 58th Street
Maison Baudry - near 58th Street
 

I passed a small grassy square, amidst which was set the Maison Baudry, a restored estate dating from the 1720's.

Soon after 58th Street, the bike trail took off to the right again, away from Notre Dame, to follow the railroad tracks one block to the north, behind the houses. I rode, thus, along the back streets as far as 53rd Street. The tracks were very overgrown here, the main line having cut off across the northern half of the Island. At 53rd Street, the bike trail switched over to the north side of the tracks. At the intersection, only one railroad track now left along the right-of-way. The marked trail continued west along the north side of the tracks, along Victoria Street. To my right (north) was a typical, somewhat old-time, residential neighbourhood, while to my left (south) was an overgrown corridor of open green. Looking further left, through the one block width of houses, I could see Notre Dame and a park down along the river.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Old Rail line of Canadian Northern
now a CN spur
near De La Rousselière
Rail line looking east at
De La Rousselière crossing
 

When I first got to the next major street, La Rousselière, I just crossed it and continued to follow the marked trail along the edge of the tracks and Victoria Street. Soon thereafter, though, at 45th & Victoria, the bike trail took an abrupt turn to the right (north), heading even further from the river. I began to fear that I was not on a westward leading bike path, but on one cutting across the Island. (I had not bike path maps to guide me.). I decided to backtrack to the La Rousselière and follow it down to Notre Dame and the river. On my way back, I spied a small bike shop on Victoria Street, just east of La Rousselière, where I was finally able to buy a bicycle tube. I felt better knowing I had a spare tube which would not need to be patched before I could use it.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Looking upriver at Park De La Rousselière

At the foot of La Rousselière, I find a park called Eco Park la Rousselière, consisting of a huge gravel parking lot, a grassy basebll diamond, and a small grassy corner offering access to the river. I took the opportunity to take look upriver, in the direction I was heading. I also found there, on a public display board, a map of the "quartier". I checked out the bike trail and found that the right turn at 45th was just a short detour inland. I decided I would ride back and follow the bike trail.

At 15:10 I was back at Victoria and 45th, where I had first turned around. The bike trail heading north along 45th was simply a lane painted along one block of an established, quiet and tree-lined residential street. Then there was a turn to the left (west) as the bike trail cut through the city block in its own, fenced corridor. Beyond that, it continued as a marked lane along a new street westward-leading street named La Gauchetiere. As the trail crossed 43rd Street, it entered its our own right of way, across this massive green space overhung with gigantic power cables. (I guess these were the same power lines I had passed under earlier as I was riding along the Rivière des Prairies.)

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Power lines gird for St. Lawrence crossing
at 36th Avenue
Riding under the power lines
 

The park, or at least the Hydro right-of-way, brought the bike trail west from From 39rd to 36th Streets, as well as returning it to within one block of Notre Dame. As the bike trail approached the railroad tracks once again, I saw a dirt track coming from the east, meaning I could have avoided the northern detour. Had I simply continued alongside the tracks, I would have met the trail anyway. Still, my goal this day was not to cut corners, but to explore the entire bike trail.

Just before the intersection with 36th Street, Victoria Street resumed. The bike trail crossed over to the south side of the railroad tracks at 32nd Street, and followed its own sheltered corridor behind the houses facing Notre Dame. Then it came out into an open space along the side of a back street. The whole area looked like a government residential project of years gone by, something like Benny Farm in NDG.

I crossed Boulevard Tricentenaire, a major thoroughfare heading north and south, at right angles to Notre Dame and my path. The sheltered bike corridor on the far side, alongside the railroad tracks. At 19th Street, the trail came out onto Prince Albert Street and followed along this roadway. I could still see Notre Dame, which was running parallel to me, only one block to the left. On the occasions when I could peek through to Notre Dame, it appeared that this road was separated from the riverside by only a single row of single family homes.

Prince Albert Street came to an end again at 14th, but the bike trail continued on alongside the railroad tracks for a couple more blocks, until it came out at Boulevard St. Jean-Baptiste.

It was 15:30 when I reached St. Jean Baptiste, the first cross-island boulevard. I turned left and rode down past Notre Dame to the go the waterfront. This was the old centre of the town of Pointe aux Trembles.

Vignette: Pointe-aux-Trembles is an old settlement, dating from 1674. The name refers to a point covered in aspen trees (trembles), which has since weathered away. The town remained a quiet village until well into the 20th Century, when the railroad and tram service began to make it attractive for industry and suburban settlement. Pointe-aux-Trembles resisted annexation by until 1982.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Looking downriver from the pier
at St. Jean Baptiste Boulevard
Shoreline east of St. Jean Baptiste Boulevard
 

It is at the foot of Boulevard St. Jean-Baptiste that the port of Montreal begins. Here the harbour pilots are ride out to meet, and be taken aboard, the big ships. For the first time one can see the full width of the St. Lawrence, as the big islands just off the Montreal Island shoreline come to an end and the two channels of the river come together. Looking downriver, one can see the huge, ocean-going vessels plying the river route.

On all my previous rides along Notre Dame, since the first in 1989, when I first discovered this spot, it has been a must see. Even when I pass this way by car, I often take the occasion to stop. On this day, I spent some time relaxing at the riverfront park, Parc de la port de Pte aux trembles, and watching the traffic on the river. I looked down the shoreline of the channel I had been riding along, at the beach side of all the homes, and at the small boats tied up at makeshift wharves.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Harbour pilots at St. Jean Baptiste Boulevard:
Beginning of the Port of Montreal
St. Jean Baptiste viewed from
the Boucherville Islands
(Englargement)
 

Montreal East

I set off once again at 15:45, beginning first by retracing my route back up St. Jean-Baptiste to the Prince Albert/Victoria Corridor, where I had left the bike path earlier. Victoria Street, the railroad tracks, the bike trail, and Prince Albert Street all headed west together. The bike trail was along the south side of the tracks, next to Prince Albert. This continued for ten blocks or so, until just after I crossed over into the town of Montreal East.

Barely one block into Montreal East the bike signs had me turn left onto Marien, taking this across Notre Dame and down to the river. I came out at Quais #109 & #110: The Petro Canada terminal. The trail then turned to the west to follow the river through this tiny and delightful riverside park, only a few blocks long and nestled in between two tanker terminals.

I found it most interesting that while the War Veterans Memorial in Pointe-aux-Trembles had been in both English and French, the one in Montreal East park was in English only.

At Hinton Street the tiny Montreal East residential enclave came to an end, cut off by an oil company terminal. I was shunted along St. Julie and Lesage Denis Streets back to Notre Dame.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Bike trail across Montreal-East

Vignette: Montreal East began as a planned residential community in 1909, the brainchild of successful Montreal broker Joseph Versailles. It was incorporated in 1910. The attraction of the port and the railroad soon brought heavy industry, especially oil refineries. Today the town is known as the heart of Eastern Canada's petrochemical industry. The tiny enclave enclave retained its independence until the island-wide mergers of 2001.

The bike trail proceeded along the left side of Notre Dame, through the middle of the vast refinery complexes: First the Shell, and then the Esso refineries. In an attempt to soften the bleaknes of the surroundings, the roadway was landscaped and cleaned up somewhat: Overhanging pipes, for example, were gaily painted. Still, there was no escaping the delapitated, empty look of a lot of the area. A lot of the tanks were rusting away and vast tracks of land stood empty. (It was such a contrast to when I remember first seeing the area, when my parents had driven this way back in 1971. In those days, everything looked prosperous and spiffy. All the tanks were freshly painted. In fact, my roomate of the time, Chris Plate, had had a summer job painting the oil tanks. It was from him that I learned that they did repair welding while the tanks were full, not empty, for only empty tanks would be full of explosive fumes.

I made a stop about midway throught the gauntlet, at a small, artificially grassy knoll, in order to catch a photo of the area.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Photo stop in Montreal-East West along Notre Dame approaching
end of Montreal-East
 

Bellerive

After a mile or more of trundling past the oil tanks and pipes, it all came suddenly to an abrupt end, and I found myself once again surrounding by residences. The marked bike trail turned right off of Notre Dame on George V Street, the last Montreal East street. It was only a short ways to the waterfront.

At the foot of the street, with the last refinery terminal to my left (east) , the trail turned right (west) and into Bellerive Park. The new Bellerive Park is long, beautiful expanse of green grass extending over many, many blocks, recapturing for public use the original shoreline from the industries that used to dominate it. At the foot of the shoreline embankment, perhaps twenty feet down, the old gravel beach riverfront has been made accessible to people who want to get down and actually feel the water.

The old bike trail used to go along the frontage street, Bellerive, and there was still a marked trail there. It was now used mostly by Roller bladers, but when I had first passed by this way, as the park was first being groomed, it has been the only trail. The new bike trail was of groomed gravel and went right along the top of the shoreline embankment. The river shore below had clearly been groomed and was very clean. Across the river one could see the Boucherville Islands and, off in the distance ahead, were the cranes of the giant CAST container terminal.

Bellerive was separated from Notre Dame by a one-block width worth of nice, residential neighbourhood, broken occasionally by large parks.

Vignette: Beaurivage had been the name of this residential area when it was first carved out of the east-end farmland in 1898, during the period of rapid easward expansion of the city brought about the the building of the tramway and the installaton of industry. Beaurivage was annexed by the City of Montreal in 1910. Tetraultville, a bit further east, nearer the beginning of my Bellerive Park experience, was another of these turn-of-the-20th-century developments. It had even been large enough to merit a spur off the main tramway line. Tetraultville was founded in 1907, and also annexed by Montreal in 1910.

My ride through the park, along the water's edge, lasted for maybe a mile or so. At the city end of the park was the new ferry terminus for rides to Ile Charron, gateway to the Boucherville Islands park. I stopped to check out the landing and found the ferry schedule:

Weekends only to June 19: $2.95 each way, $1 off for Access Montreal.
On the hour from 10:00 to 18:00 for Ile Charron
On the half-hour from 10:30 to 18:30 return

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Along the shore at Parc Bellerive Looking East along shoreline
at Parc Bellerive
 

I recognized the area as the spot where I had visited my parents back in 1971. In those days there was a campground here, where my parents had installed themselves with their little 13-foot "dewdrop" trailer during a visit. I had ridden out by bus along Notre Dame, my first venture in this direction. I recognized the spot from the old shopping centre across the street on Notre Dame. At this point the park extended in an open grassy field all the way over to Notre Dame.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
'Historic' shopping centre on Notre Dame
at Parc Bellerive
Parc Bellerive across from shopping centre
 

St-Jean-de-Dieu

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Bike trail past CAST Container Port

The Cast Container Terminal blocked any further movement along the river. In fact, from this point on, as far as the Old Port, the river would remain innaccessible. The bike trail cut through the block-wide park until it came up to Notre Dame. There is continued westward in a protected right-of-way along the left side of the street. The whole area had been landscaped and was green with grassy slopes and trees. Concrete barriers hid all view of the container port.

At 16:40 I was at the main entrance to the container port, at its western end. At 16:45 I was stopped atop the Lafontaine Tunnel, by the two giant air exchange towers that marked its Montreal side (with two additional towers marking the opposite end on Ile Charron). I could see busy Hwy 25 as it plunged deep into the ground to the north, amidst massing rock cuts.


An historic plaque on the site indicated that it was the site of the original Collège de Montréal, founded in 1767. Leaving the open space of the tunnel area, the bike trail becomes nothing more than a faded line painted on the left-hand sidewalk of Notre Dame.

At the first block west of the tunnel, one encounters a most peculiar, hidden residential area, totally cut off from anything else by heavy industry as far as the eye can see. This area consists of two streets, ending in culs-de-sac, and lined with typical Montreal-style two-story row houses. At the corner is an old police station, now a fire house. Signs indicate that it was known as Poste 26 and that it had been built in 1913. [Subsequent to this ride, I have returned to this area and found that all the homes had been razed. Nothing is left but an empty, tree-filled block, with the police station still standing on one corner.]

Vignette: St-Jean-de-Dieu The area where the Lafontaine Tunnel is today was, until quite recently, part of one of the strangest "municipalities" in Quebec: St. Jean de Dieu. It was the site of a major mental hospital, originally called the Longue Pointe Asylum. Originally built in the 1870s, it was enlarged in the 1890s. At that point, the province, searching for some legal status to give the area, made it a "municipality". It was a city without voters, though it certainly had "residents". The mayor was the Mother Superior. The "city" had its own police force and post office. It even had its own railway, to bring coal from the riverfront. Things remained pretty much the same on into the 1960s, when a major part of the town's property was expropriated in order to built the Lafontain Tunnel and its accessways. The city was finally formally annexed by Montreal only in 1982.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Poste 26 - Just west of Tunnel crossing Poste 26 - and houses on rue Caty
 

Longue Pointe

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
CFB at Longue Pointe

The way along the sidewalk through what was once the Town of Longue Pointe was nothing more than drudgery. For more than a mile there was nothing more than factories to see on both side of the street. Behind the factories on the river side, one could catch glimpses which hinted at a large slip and various port facilities. It is too bad that the bike trail does not take one along the private street that runs through the Port of Montreal.

On the right hand side, extending for some distance, was the massive Longue Pointe Military Supply base. On my side I passed the Montreal Fire Fighter Training Centre. I understand that it was here that once stood the East End's famous Dominion Amusement Park. Little was left of the old Town of Longue Pointe

Vignette: Longue Pointe was first fortified and settled early in the 1700s. It remained a small farming community, though an important steamboat stop, until the end of the 1800s. The building of the Canadian Northern Railway and the tram to Bout de l'Ile would change all that within a space of thirty years. Major industries soon settled in the area and the port was developed, then closed off to the public. The The Dominion Amusement Park was opened early in the 1900s, flourished, and was finally closed down in the 1930s amusement park was opened.


The factories eventually gave way to more forests of oil tanks, like I had passed in Montreal East. There were the Irving tanks, and then the Montank tanks. On my right was the giant Camco factory.

At 17:05 I came to Dickson Avenue, where the marked "bike trail" crossed the street over to the right-hand sidewalk of Notre Dame. Westward still, the Montank tanks continued on the left-hand side. At a certain point, nestled in among them, was a giant 24-hour Laflour drive in hot dog stop. On my side there was nothing but the abandoned and overgrown remains of what had once been a large factory complex.

Somewhere beneath this vast empty complex must lie the remains of Molson's Creek, a major waterway shown on all the historic maps, even as late as 1962. I imagine it is consigned now to some unnamed concrete pipe.

All of this would come to an end at the point where the wide Notre Dame boulevard, now much busier west of the Tunnel access, was squeezed under the narrow opening under an old, steel railway overpass. The rail line was elevated on an earthen embankment which had an effect much like a city wall. The bike trail and sidewalk passed through a small tunnel next to Notre Dame.

Maisonneuve/Hochelaga

Immediately past the underpass, the scenery on the right instantly changed from factories to established residential streets, lined with typical two & three story row-houses fronted by external staircases. The first few blocks of this residential area probably reflect the original turn-of-the-20th-Century development known as Guybourg. The left-hand side of Notre Dame remained a factory blight, the forgotten backside of the Port of Montreal.

The bike trail immediately left the sidewalk and entered its own park-like right-of-way. This area, as far west as Frontenac, was the area that had been expropriated and cleared in the early 1970s for the eastward extension of the Ville Marie Expressway, and extension that never happened. Eventually, the strip was groomed and turned into a park, complete with a bike trail. Oftentimes the bike trail would be hidden and sheltered from busy Notre Dame by an small earthen embankment and trees. [This section of Notre Dame is soon to be turned into an urban boulevard. It is hard to imagine this not having some negative effect on the bike trail.]

At each intersection the bike trail returned to Notre Dame's edge, in order to cross the street. Then it would swing back away and into the trees. One of the first streets to be crossed was Ste. Catherine, for at this point it curves around to meet Notre Dame. West of that point, it is the street one block inward.

The whole area was once the Town of Maisonneuve, a prosperous east end suburb of the city around the turn of the 20th Century. Maisonnueve spent a lot on public works. At one point the bike trail would pass through a sunken park, a remainder of the massive park system. At another point, near Pie IX, was the historic Maisonneuve Fire Station, a classic example of city architecture, now standing empty.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Old Town of Maisonneuve Police Station
 

Vignette: Maisonneuve was created in 1883, when the more settled portion of the east end to the west, the Town of Hochelaga, was annexed by Montreal. It was a prosperous residential and industrial town which showed lots of promise. The massive public works overtaxed the citizens and the city was, in turn, annexed by Montreal in 1918.
Hochelaga was the first major eastern suburb of Montreal, established a municipality of its own in 1845. It was, for a while, the terminus of the railway to the north, until this was move closer to the city. It was the home of the Canadian Pacific shops, until these were removed to the Angus Shops. Hochelaga was annexed by Montreal in 1883

I was at Pie IX, whose wide, boulevard was also one of Maisonneuve's extravagant public works, at 17:15. Past the major crossing, the bike trail continued on as before. I was now riding in quite familiar territory, as I had come this way often in the late 80s and early 90s, after work and by bike, to visit my old friend Loretta, who had lived in the Hochelaga neighbourhood at that time.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Bike trail along Notre Dame in Hochelaga
sheltered by wall
Notre Dame - Looking East
on the other side of wall
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Notre Dame bike trail looking east
from bike bridge
St. Lawrence River from Notre Dame
bike trail in Hochelaga
 

I came at last to the bike bridge over the railroad tracks. When I had first cycled out this way, the bike trail had crossed the tracks on the sidewalk of the Notre Dame overpass. I had watched as they slowly built the new structure, just for cyclists, and remember crossing it soon after it first opened. From atop the crossing, one has a great view of the neighbourhood.

The tracks effectively mark the western boundary of the Hochelaga neighbourhood. The railway beneath is quite historic, for this was the original rail line, leading from Hochelaga up to the north, to the Bordeaux Bridge I had passed early in the morning. Later, when the Canadian Northern Railway was built in from Bout de l'Ile, it came to an end at the now forgotten Moreau Station, located right at this point, on Ste. Catherine Street.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Train passing under bicycle bridge
Looking south
Train passing under bicycle bridge
Looking north
 

Just past the rail overpass, I came to the crossing of Papineau Street. It as 17:45, and I was beginning to feel the effects of the day-long ride.

Past Papineau, one approaches Pied du Courant, which throughout the 19th Century was Montreal's city jail. It was here that the Patriotes of 1837 were hung. Across the street is a small city park, Parc Bellerive, now completely cut off from everything by the major boulevard Notre Dame had become, by the sealed off Port of Montreal below, and by all the industrial and warehouse buildings around. Still it is a popular, isolated island of greenery. It was to this point that we would come to watch the fireworks being set off from La Ronde, on the opposite shore. Often, to avoid the hour-long traffic bottleneck which was created afterwards, we would ride in with our bikes from our parking spot in Old Montreal.

The area is called Pied du Courant after the famous St. Mary's Current which develops here as the St. Lawrence is constrained to pass between Ile Ste. Hélène and Montreal. In the days of sailing ships, this current was a major obstacle to finally reaching the port which could be tantalizingly seen just half a mile away.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
Beginning (end) of Notre Dame bike trailPied du courant
 

Epilogue

It is under the Jacques Cartier Bridge that the East End Bike Trail effectively comes to its end. Leaving Notre Dame, it becomes a protected lane on the left side of René Levesque Boulevard, which begins at this point. Passing by the massive Radio Canada complex, the bike lane meets the North/South bikeway at Berri and one is invited to turn left (south), to descend to the Old Port. Were I to wish to continue westward along the bike trail, I would have to go through the Old Port until I came to the Lachine Bike Trail.

I was feeling pretty tired at the point and the head wind was getting the better of me. I was slowing down terribly, running in my lowest gear, even on the flat ground. When I reached Berri, it was 17:55. As had happened on all previous rides out east, I decided that René Levesque offered the best and most direct way home. I followed it all the way across downtown, until it came to an end at Clark Street in Westmount. There I picked up the DeMaisonneuve Bike Trail and took my normal route home.

It was 18:44 when I reached home. I was dead tired, after having cycled for 11 hours!

Top

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