Bike Rides to Boucherville
& the Lower South Shore:
2003 Ride to Sorel



Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2004


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Bike Ride to Sorel in 2003

Monday, July 14, 2003 The 4th day of my Summer vacation


Foreword

It was

Read the [Original Write Up], written directly afterward.

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
South Shore Towns

The Plan

I had requested Monday for a bike ride, and it turned out to be a bright, sunny day. I had also asked Sheryl if she could come and get me at the end of the day. In this way, I could extend myself further, as I would not have to ride both ways. (I had exhausted most of the places I could get to and back from within a single day.)

My destination for the day was Sorel, riding down the south bank of the St. Lawrence. Although I had driven all or part of the route many times, I had only been as far as Boucherville by bicycle, and that was back in 1992. I would pass through the towns of Boucherville, Varennes, Verchères, Contrecoeur and Tracy before reaching Sorel. I had been through Sorel, back in 1990, but had reached it by ferry from the North Shore.

Heading Out

After getting Alex up and having our breakfast "family meeting", we sent him on his way about 09:00. I set off a few minutes later at 09:30, heading east along the deMaisonneuve bike path. I was debating which crossing of the St. Lawrence to make: The Locks at St. Lambert or the Jacques Cartier Bridge. I decided to take the latter for I had recently heard that the sidewalks of the Jacques Cartier had been recently been completely redone. This would also bring me closer to the start off for my destination, which would be the Bike Path in Longueuil, which I had not seen since 1999. My next debate was whether to drop down and take the Canal and go through Old Montreal, or to continue through downtown. I opted for the downtown route. Although less scenic, it was far faster and I wanted to make up for my late start.

I followed my usual route in to work, and then continued on along Ste. Catherine until I was well past St. Denis. I then took a small sidestreet up to Ontario and continued east from there, so as to be far enough north not to miss the bridge approach. As it turned out, I had gone too far north, and ended up having to drop down Papineau some ways. It was 10:10 when I reached the bridge sidewalk.


Crossing the Jacques Cariter Bridge

As I had read, all was new! The one time I had formerly been across the Jacques Cartier bridge, as far as Ile Ste. Hélène in 1992, the sidewalk had been narrow and in terrible shape, with large gaping holes where one could see right down to the river below. The new roadbed was wide enough for two cyclists to pass quite easily. I started up the bridge, stopping often to take photos. I took photos down each major street.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Jacques Cartier Bridge New Bike Trail & View Northwards

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Jacques Cartier Bridge
Jacques Cartier Bridge: View West over Réné Levesque Jacques Cartier Bridge: View West over Ste. Catherine

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Jacques Cartier Bridge
View West over Molson's Brewery View West over Ville Marie

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Jacques Cartier Bridge
View West over Waterfront View back along Bridge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Jacques Cartier Bridge
Skyline & Waterfront Molson Brewery & Waterfront

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Jacques Cartier Bridge: Vue West over Harbour
[See Unretouched Original] [See Unretouched Original (X)]

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Jacques Cartier Bridge
Montreal Skyline and Ile Ste. Helene West side bikeway & sidewalk

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Jacques Cartier Bridge
View West over Olympic Basin View West over Channel

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Jacques Cartier Bridge
View West over Seaway View West over Olympic Basin

 

Longueuil

It was half an hour later, at 10:40 that I came racing down the Longueuil side. I caught something in my eye which would bother me for at least half-an-hour. At the very end, as I was leaving the superstructure, the path got suddenly narrow and I had to stop and lean to the side for every approaching cyclist. I was dumped off at St. Laurent Street. It turned out I had gone up the west sidewalk. For future trips, it would probably make more sense to go up the east sidewalk, as I would not be dumped far to the west of where I wanted to go once I got to the far side.

Not having any map of Longueuil, I just blindly headed east. Past the shopping centre/metro terminus, I found a major street to take me back towards the river. This eventually brought me to St. Charles, at which point I think I was close to where the east side walk would have left me. I followed St. Charles through old Longueuil, continuing to look down each side street for signs of access to the waterfront bike trail.

When I finally did find access, I saw that it was the 2nd passarelle. I was several blocks east of the first one, which would have brought me down at the marina. As it was, I crossed the highway and came down at the east side of the park just east of the marina. It was 10:55.

Once onto the Longueuil riverfront trail, I was back in familiar territory, as I had come this way a number of times, beginning in 1992. My last trip had been my ride to the Boucherville Islands in 1999 to meet Sheryl.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Longeueuil: Bike Trail alongside Rte 132

 

At 11:00 I was even with the Olympic Stadium and by 11:10 I was at the end of the path.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Longeueuil: Montreal shore from End of Trail

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Longeueuil: Bikepath west from Crossing Longeueuil: End of Trail & Crossing

 

I had hoped that they would have closed the quarter-mile gap between the bike trails of Longueuil and Boucherville. Standing at the end of the former, underneath the Hwy 20 approach to the Tunnel, one can almost see the end of the the other one. Although there is a highway, I am sure they could build something along the shoreline. As it was, I had to portage the bike up these circular ramps they had devised. Luckily, it was not as bad as I had thought it would be.

I crossed over the highway and descended the other side. I now had to find my way across the obstacle of the Hwy 20 freeway, for I was still on the west side. I started riding up towards the main street, some blocks away. When I came to the first industrial side street past the railroad tracks, I turned around and rode down that street on a hunch. At the Hwy 20, there was an exit and entrance ramp and lots of traffic. I saw no 'bicycles prohibited' sign to the left, where the road seemed to loop under the freeway, alongside the railroad tracks. I figured I would follow the road as far as I could. Perhaps once I got to the other side, some possibilities would open up. There I was, a tiny bicycle amidst the big tractor trailers. They were all quite polite, however.

As I rounded the curve, I saw the bike path on the far side of the tracks. I carried my bike over the single track to join it. I have no idea where it comes from on the Longueuil side, and I did not want to take the time to investigate. That would be for another ride.

Boucherville

The bike trail from Longueuil joined the Boucherville bike trail. It was 11:30. First I rode along beside the cemetary and then in a marked lane along the frontage road.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Boucherville: Bike path alonside highway

 

I looked back on the point where back in 1992, in pure folly, I had run my bike across the freeway and over the grassy shoulders in order to reach the end of the Longueuil path.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Boucherville: Looking back from Crossing

 

Signs along the freeway indicated I was 61 km from my destination of Sorel.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Boucherville: Alongside Rte 132

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Boucherville: Route 132 Crossing looking west to Montreal

 

Once I reached the point where Marie Victorin crossed the highway, the trail became a nicely marked lane on the river side of Marie Victorin. Across Boucherville there would typically be nothing between me and the river, the river here being only a narrow channel of perhaps 100 metres in width. On the far side is the Boucherville Islands.

The bike path continued all across the town of Boucherville. Near the centre of town, I passed the ferry dock for the Boucherville Islands ferry. It was 11:50 or so when I finally stopped at a small gazebo on the east side of Boucherville, near the Club Nautique de Mésy to make by 12:00 check-in call to Sheryl.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Boucherville:
Downriver along channel from Route 132 Crossing
(West End of Town)
Downriver along channel from Gazebo Stop
(East End of Town)

 

I was soon even with the end of the Boucherville Islands and my view extended across the river to the Montreal shore.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Boucherville: End of 'Iles' Park and Montreal Shore

 

I passed under the same powerlines under which, only a month before, I had stopped on the Montreal shore to look southward:

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Boucherville: Montreal shore at Powerlines

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on East End/Assomption Ride: June - 2003)
Montreal shore at Powerlines

 

My clear view of the Montreal shore would soon be blocked by other islands in the channel. I came to a point where the bike trail left the main road, to wend its way through the marshes of the mouth of a small tributary, along what was clearly the old road from days gone by.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Boucherville
Old Road - Bike Path - New Bike Bridge Old Road - now Bike Path

 

Varennes

It was while on this old road, crossing through the open fields, that I also crossed into the town of Varennes. It was 12:10 when I crossed the line. As I looked ahead towards the approaching town, I saw this ominous-looking thundercloud developing off in the distance, in the direction I was heading. It had been such a nice day that I had not brought any rain gear with me!

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Varennes
Town Line along Bike Path Waterfront & Big Cloud Forming

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Varennes Crest Varennes on the South Shore

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Coming into Varennes

I remained on the old road, still in open fields, until 12:20, when I came to the first houses of Varennes. The bike path led me to a waterfront park, down below the main part of town, which was up on a hill. I reached the information kiosk at 12:30 and went in for some brochures and for a bathroom break.. The attendant gave me a map of Varennes, which allowed me to see a sideroad I could take in order to avoid Route 132. I was on my may at 12:40

Varennes is located just across from the eastern end of Montreal Island, but the view in either direction is broken by the intervening presence of several large St. Lawrence islands, including Ile Ste. Thérèse, which was once a town in its own right. These islands all form part of the town of Varennes today.


Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Varennes: Across from Bout de l'Ile

 

The bike trail came to an end at the heights facing the old church. I climbed up the heights and looked back on Montreal, which now seemed to be quite distant.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003/Taken from City Brochure)
Varennes: Church on the Hill

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Varennes: View from River in 2002

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Looking back on Montreal from Varennes

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Heading out of Varennes

 

I continued around town on Ste. Anne, until I came to the tiny road I had seen on the town map. This road, though open to cars, was virtually a bike path. I wended its way up and down through the fields, in and around the industrial parks. It looked very much like the old road, which had been replaced by the newer and straighter Route 132 that I could often see when looking inland.

The road climbed well up onto the heights, giving me a wide panoramic view of the St. Lawrence within its valley, and of the end of Montreal Island and the beginning of Repentigny on the far shore.


Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Varennes: Approaching Industries

 

It was 12:50 when I came even with Repentigny and the Gauron Bridge. I stopped for a photo and to explore the far shore at length with my field glasses, recognizing all the familiar landmarks.

I kept an ever-watchful eye on the big thunder developing ahead. When I had first seen it, it was but a small white cloud in the distance. It seemed to be homing in on me! Even though I had a good tailwind and the cloud was ahead of me, it seemed to get ever closer. I kicked myself again for not having brought my rain gear because it was such a fine day. That will teach me!

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Varennes: River from Heights

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
View of Repentigny Bridge from Varennes Shore

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on East End/Assomption Ride: June - 2003)
Bridge at Repentigny (Taken Earlier)

 

Verchères

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Rte 132: Approaching Verchères

 

At 13:00, about 4km west of Vercheres, the quiet side road that I had been riding along came to an end and I finally had to join Route 132. I continued eastward along the main road but, luckily, there was a wide, paved shoulder. Also lucky for me was the strong tailwind. I would not have wanted to go the other way! I was able to cruise in my middle gear in front and my middle to next-lower gear in back and I felt like I was sailing along!

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Verchèreres Town Line

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Verchères Crest Verchères on the South Shore

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Across Verchères

 

I came to the Vercheres lines at 13:15 and was at the town centre by 13:25. [I recognized much from when I used to visit Steven here in the late 80s. I saw the tavern on the hill and the big grassy expanse down which I used to chase young 5-year-old Tannissa. On the other hand, much had also changed.] I rode down to the waterfront and took a picture from the pier. Then I found a picnic table in the shade and had my lunch of crackers and hummous.

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Verchères Town Centre

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Verchèreres: Waterfront & Statue from Pier

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Verchères: Famous Statue

Statue of Madeleine

Marie-Madeleine Jarret de Verchères, daughter of Marie Perrot and of the founder of Verchères, le Sieur François-Xavier Jarret, was born at Verchères on March 3, 1768. She was witness to the bravery of her mother against the Iroquois in 1690. Two years later, Madelon followed in the same tradition when, on October 27, 1692, at the age of 14 years, she performed the heroic acts which have immortalized her: She hd to defend the fort at Verchères against the Iroquois for eight days. In 1706, Marie-Madeleine married Pierre Thomas Tarieu de la Naudière, Sieur de la Pérade. It was with sorrow that the inhabitants of Verchères watched the girl who was the soul and joy of their little village leave for Sainte-Anne de la Pérade. The couple had 5 children. During her life, Madeleine de Verchères would have the chance to twice save the life of her husband during Iroquois attacks. On the 8th of August in 1747, the manor at Sainte-Anne de la Pérade went into mourning as Medeleine died at the age of 69. Close to ten year later, on January 25, 1757, Monsieur de la Pérade died at the age of 80.

(Taken from the town brochure [See the Original Text])

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
About Verchères

 

I finished lunch at 13:55 and climbed my way back up to the main road, where I stopped at a small, rustic depanneur to buy some water. Then was on my way out of town.

Contreccoeur

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Contrecoeurs is located on the South Shore of
the St. Lawrence, about 50 km downstream
from Montreal

At 14:00 I passed a sign that announced Sorel to be 39km and Contrecoeur to be 12km. As a sign of how fast the wind was pushing me, I made it to the town centre at 14:30 (having passed the town line at 14:10). I must have been going 24km/hr!

On the way in, just past the town line, I made a small detour off onto the old road. It made for an interesting break, but I was soon brought back to the main highway.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Contrecoeur Town Line

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Coming in along the Old Road

 

I came upon a series of huge industrial plants west of town. I became conscious of a large industrial complex to my left, alongside the waterfront and hidden partially hidden by the trees. Then I came to a pipe overpass. Finally, at the road leading over to the freeway, was a massive smelter operation.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Contrecoeur: Industry along Waterfront Contrecoeur: Industrial Overpass

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Contrecoeur: Smelter

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Ville de Contrecoeur: Aerial Photo

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Contrecoeur Centre

 

Once in town, I stopped at the Tourist Info and picked up maps and brochures for Contrecoeur as well as for Verchères (which I had missed) and for Sorel. I would be glad of the Sorel map!

I dropped down to the waterfront for a look out on the St. Lawrence. There was a pier and marina, and lots of low islands in the channel. I was across the river from the town of Lavaltrie

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Contrecoeur: Church

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Contrecoeur: Marina

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Contrecoeur: View to River Islands

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Contrecoeur: View across to Lavaltrie

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Heading out East from Town

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Contrecoeur: View Downriver from riverside park

 

I headed on eastward along Route 132. At 14:50 I was at a riverside gazebo in a park east of town when I checked in with Sheryl by cell phone.

At 15:15 I was at the settlement of St.Roch, now part of Contrecoeur. It had been a long, sunny stretch and I had climbed up to a somewhat elevated view of the river. There was a sign that announced Tracy to be 12km further on and Sorel to be 18 km.

Tracy

At 15:50 I was at the Sorel/Tracy town line. At that point, I was riding through a heavily wooded section which was home to lots of old-style summer camps. One as called 'Colonie des greves' I think it may have been for delinquents in times past.

The most prominent landmark as I approached Tracy was the huge thermal-electric plant.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Sorel-Tracy Tracy: Approaching Power Station

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Sorel: Coming in along Route 132
[See Full Map]

 

I stopped at Park Massoui at 16:15, just inside the Sorel/Tracy line. It was a narrow park, nestled in amongst the shoreline properties, but giving some perfunctory access to the water. Looking downriver through my field glasses, I saw the hydrofoil for Quebec pass by. Upriver, I saw the docks for the massive thermoelectric plant which I had just passed.

As I continued on into Tracy, Route 132 lost its rural nature and decayed into an urban strip-mall wasteland which had clearly seen better days. As the peninsula between the Richelieu and the St. Lawrence became narrower and narrower, the freeway was forced ever closer. At its end, Tracy was little more than a thin strip on either side of the old road, bounded on one side by river and on the other by the freeway. Beyond the freeway, I could see the areas of newer development.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Tracy: View downriver from Massoui Park at Town Line

 

St. Joseph de Sorel

At the very tip of the peninsula is the small town of St. Joseph de Sorel. At this point, the highway make an abrupt curve to the right, to cross over to the Richelieu River and Sorel. That area north of the highway, amidst the massive steel refineries and criss-crossing railroads, is the quaint, little residential town. It was 16:35 as I passed through the steel refineries and took a side tour of St. Joseph de Sorel.

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
St. Joseph de Sorel
[See Full Map]

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Tracy: Steel Mill

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Tracy: Route Past Factories St. Joseph de Sorel: Industrial Rail

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
St. Joseph de Sorel

 

Sorel

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Sorel: Aerial View

 

It was 16:50 when I was at the bridge crossing over the Richelieu River and into Sorel. I had started off at 09:30, so the ride to Sorel had taken me about 7 1/2 hours. I had hoped to find Sorel's Tourist Information centre and to get some town brochures, but that was not to be. I made a wrong choice of direction coming off the bridge, and by the time I had realized this, it was past the 17:00 closing time of these places.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Sorel: Bridge over Richelieu River

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Sorel: View up Richelieu River from Bridge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Sorel: View from River in 2002

 

I rode across town on the main highway and began heading eastward, out of town. Soon I had left the close-packed houses of the older section and was riding along a suburban boulevard of Canadian Tire parking lots and chain restaurants. I had last been out this way when I had ridden to Quebec City in 1990, on my first inter-city ride as an adult. I turned around soon past the Mike's where I had eaten pasta back on that trip.

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Sorel & East

 

I retraced my route until I came to the older section of town, dropping down by the church and crossing back along 'George' street until I came to the city park. Just down from there I noticed an old square, near the market, where there were lots of trendy restaurants with outdoor terraces. I kept these in mind as a good place to sit and wait for Sheryl. I then swung around and went to a depanneur to get some snacks before settling in for a rest at the city park.

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Sorel: Old Town

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Sorel: Looking down George Street

 

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Gazebo in City Park

 

Refreshed, I rode back to the bridge. As I had crossed on the south side, I had noticed a ship at dock on the other side, and so wanted to explore it more fully.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Sorel: Ship at Bridge

 

I rode down from the bridge to the waterfront underneath, where I could get a closer look at the ship. Riding down along the old waterfront brought be back out at the old market, where I checked out the restaurant situation more fully. I found a restaurant which looked promising and made note of the directions I would have to give. I continued, then, along the waterfront as best I could. (I was forced to ride around the ferry terminus on the city streets.). At the eastern side of the old town, I came to 'Parc vue sur le fleuve', where there was a marina and a spectacular view downriver.

I was at the gazebo looking out over the water when 18:00 came, the time to call Sheryl and give her directions to come and fetch me. I figured it would take her about two hours to come from Monreal.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Sorel: Marine at Parc 'Vue sur fleuve'

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Sorel: Parc 'Vue sur fleuve'

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Sorel Ride: July 14, 2003)
Sorel: Looking East from Parc 'Vue sur fleuve'

 

I mosied around the park a bit longer, riding east as far as I could along the waterfront (walking my bike in some 'no bike' sections.) I then rode on over to the restaurant and occupied my 'starter' table on the terrace, while I staked out a better location. It was a very popular place and was very busy. After half an hour I was able to move to a better table, sitting right up over the street, where I could see the street. I was there to talk Sheryl in when she arrived at 20:00. We had supper and left around 22:00. Sheryl drove me home along the freeway, Highway 30.

Click to Enlarge (City Brochure - 2003)
Cactus Café

 

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Prepared by Roger Kenner
February, 2004