Thursday, August 14, 2003
The Town of Rawdon has played prominently in my life, to the extent that I can no longer hope to count the number of times I have been there. Still, I had only ridden there once by bicycle, and this nearly 30 years earlier. I decided it would be interesting to retrace my same, original 1974 route to Rawdon. This time I would have my camera in hand.
The account below is a revised and updated version of the original one [View Here], compiled from my ride notes just three days afterwards.
It was the day set aside for my all-day bike ride, with the guarantee that Sheryl would come and get me at the end, so I could make it a one-way ride. I had originally planned the ride for Friday, but Sheryl asked me to be home that day, to help her prepare for the weekend, so I switched it to Thursday. I got up that morning and got Alex up and out by 08:00. Then I sat down for an on-the-terrace breakfast with Sheryl. It promised to be a bright, but hazy, day.
I left at 09:45, having no firm idea at first of where I was going. I headed northwest across the city, pretty well deciding I would head for Rawdon along the route I had last done in 1974. I set out along the diagonal, short-cut route to the Back River. I rode throught TMR and found the work on the l'Acadie Circle, though still under major construction, to have advanced atleast far enough that I did not have to make the same long detour as the previous time. When I finally reached Boulevard Gouin, I had to make a choice as to whether I would crossed the Back River via the CP Tracks or at Pont Viau. I made the wrong choice.
|Pont Viau: Back River looking East||Ahunstic: Path along river east of Pont Viau|
I crossed Pont Viau at 10:50. I saw the new metro line and metro station under construction, both on the Ahuntsic as well as on the Laval sides. I took a detour on the Laval side to catch some better photos.
|Laval: Work on Station Cartier Metro Station|
|Ahuntsic: Work on Metro Expansion||Laval: Work on Station Cartier Metro Station|
I had heard that there was now a trans-Laval bike trail and I was determined to take that route instead of the original Laurentian Boulevard route I had taken back in 1974. I had already crossed Laval via Laurentian Boulevard back in 2001, and the experience had not been a pleasant one. I stopped into a depanneur and stood at the rack, examining Laval maps looking for any indication of such a bike route, but I found nothing. A couple of blocks further up the boulevard, I happened by a bike store and reasoned it would be a good place to ask. The attendant provided me with a City of Laval brochure outlining the recreational bike paths. Most did not really connect or go anywhere, but I saw the Route Verte line clearly marked along the CP tracks.
I headed west, therefore, and descended to the CP crossing, which I came to at 11:30. I had lost about half an hour. On the way I had crossed a bike lane along a street, but had ignored it. That, too, was a mistake. The Route Verte line along the CP tracks did not start right at the river. The trail I had crossed had been part of it. I had to backtrack once again.
|Route Verte X Laval|
|Route Verte X Laval|
I was finally on my way on again. After first going through a park, then along the side streets for a way, the trail eventually went quite pleasantly alongside the rail line, behing the tall fences of the housing develoments.
At St. Martin Commuter Station, I had the luck to arrive just as a commuter train passed through
|Commuter train at Gare St. Martin|
|Commuter train at Gare St. Martin|
|Route Verte X Laval: Along CP Main Line|
Not too much further on, I came to the historic St. Martin Junction (12:00), and the wye leading to tracks heading east toward Terrebonne and Quebec City.
|Route Verte X Laval: St. Martin Junction: Old Train Station|
|Route Verte X Laval: St. Martin Junction: Quebec Line East joins Main Line|
At the underpass beneath the Hwy 440 crossing, I called Sheryl.
|Route Verte X Laval: St. Martin Junction: Looking north along main line|
|See Hwy 440 Crossing in distant upper-left|
Not too much further along, at the crossing for Boulevard St. Elzéar, there was a hiatus in the bike trail along the tracks, for industry north of the boulevard enclosed the rail line on both sides. The trail led out to the street, where there was a special crossing, and then along the oncoming lane until it had passed a large lumberyard. A protected and fenced-in trail led around the lumber yard, between it and the houses of suburbia, until it came out once again at the tracks.
|Route Verte X Laval: Around Lumber Yard past Boul. St. Elzéar|
Northward from there, the nature of the trail changed. Instead of high walls shutting off the housing developments, these now backed up against the green belt next to the tracks were busy appropriating it for tennis courts, gardens, and bar-b-q's.
Near the crest of the central Laval ridge, the rail line curved westward towards Ste. Rose, while the bike trail left the tracks and bore down the hill towards the east and Bois-des-Filion, following a Hydro-Quebec right-of-way. From the point at the top of the ridge, I could look out over the valley of the Mille-Iles River, as far as the escarpment on the north side.
The bike trail left its own green space at Boulevard Les Terraces, one of Laval's remaining quiet country roads, and became a marked bike lane painted alongside the pavement.
|Route Verte X Laval: Descending into Valley
Past Boul. Ste. Rose
Things got a little mixed up at the end, near the bridge, where all the traffic patterns had recently been re-arranged. What had been the main road was now only a feeder to the new main road, heading directly north as an extension of Hwy 19. There had been so much new development since my last passing in 2001 that I hardly recognized the area (Not to mention the changes since 1974, when all had been farmland!).
I crossed over the bridge to Bois des Filion at 12:45. All the area had changed so much with the opening of the Hwy 19 extension. Where Boul. des Laurentides had made an 'S' curve east through the bush to connect with the bridge, it now came to an intersection with Hwy 19. The bush had become housing developments. Thankfully, the bike trail kept me off of Hwy 19 until I came to the bike lane on the bridge.
|Laval Bridge Interchange (Closeup)|
|Bois-des-Filion Bridge - Looking back on Laval|
|Bois des Filion shore - From Bridge||Rivière des Mille Iles - East - Bois-des-Filion Bridge|
I rode down along the bike path at the far side until I came out at Grande Cote, right by the Belle Province where I had stopped my ride in early Summer. I stopped there and had a coke and some fries.
|Bois des Filion: La Belle Province|
After my break, I headed up Hwy 19, up past the Hwy 640 interchange and on up to the top of the cliff. As I was riding up the escarmpent, I realized I was NOT on the old road, but parallel to it, and on a completely new one. There was lots of traffic, but thankfully a wide, paved shoulder. At Rang. St. Francois, the completed section of the new road came to an end and I was shunted over to the old road, the road along which my school bus had descended to Bois des Filion and along which I had ridden in 1974. Everything was so much more built up than I remembered it from 30 years earlier! The old road had no shoulder whatsoever, and was quite narrow and busy.
|Montée Gagnon (Rte 335)|
I came upon a toolchest in the road, which must have dropped from a truck. Cars were hitting tools and they were flying. I stopped and, as traffic would permit, performed my civic duty, moving the toolbox and most of the tools to the side of the road.
I passed Rang. St. Louis, along which my school bus had come. It was here the that new road would soon connect with the old one. It was almost finished.
|Montée Gagnon Curve (School Bus turn-around) (Rte 335)|
I passed the turn-around point where my school bus used to turn around. It was at the top of the ridge. I would then descend into the town of Ste. Anne des Plaines, which I reached at 14:15. As I came down off this first ridge, I crossed over a small river, the Mascouche River, which had roads ("rangs") on both sides. This was the river that has passed by Place Longchamp in by which I had played way back when. The road on the far side, Chemin Martin, would lead off to the right towards Place Longchamp, but I passed it by.
|Welcome to Ste. Anne des Plaines|
Sainte-Annes-des-Plaines was nestled up against the ridge at the far side of the valley I had traversed, so I found myself climbing back up as I headed out of town. For the short distance to the next town of La Plaine, the road led right along the far crest of this ridge and I had a panoramic vista out over yet another valley.
|Route 335: Valley Overlook (north) between
Ste Anne des Plaines & La Plaine
|Route 335: Stately Tree between Ste Anne des Plaines & La Plaine|
When the road came down off the crest, it was to meet the busy highway from Mascouche at the tiny crossing known as La Plaine. This highway was the extension of Chemin Gascon, coming out of Terrebonne. Out way home back in 1969 used to be along Chemin Gascon, turning left at Chemin Martin. It was 15:40 when I made it to La Plaine, so I called Sheryl from a phone booth (my cell battery being low).
The road from La Plaine climbing up out of the valley towards St. Lin - Laurentides (formerly known as Ville des Laurentides) was pure hell. There was no shoulder and yet the highway was extremely busy, with cars and heavy trucks zooming by at breakneck speeds. In the distance I could see the steeple of the church in Ville des Laurentides, but I never seemed to get there. I was relieved when I finally reached the 50 km/hr zone, the indicator of the end of country driving. The cars slowed somewhat, but the road got no wider.
|Rtes 337 & 335 North of La Plaine|
It was 15:25 when I got to the centre of Ville des Laurentides, where the highway crossed over the L'Achigan River. Just below the bridge was a dam and upriver was a city park with a fountain built out in the middle of the river.
|St-Lin-Des-Laurentides: Rivière l'Achigan - Upstream||St-Lin-Des-Laurentides: Wilfred Laurier House|
|Rivière l'Achigan - Dam||Rivière l'Achigan - Downstream|
I left the road and rode over to the chambre of commerce, a couple of blocks east, and facing the church. I wanted to get a brochure on the town, but they had none. Ville des Laurentides seemed neither as big or as prosperous as I remembered it having been back in 1974. Where the new Federal historic site of Wildred Laurier's home was, on the NW of the main corner (the house being a fake), I think there was a big two or three storey wooden hotel back in 1974. I stopped into the historic site briefly, but they had nothing of interest.
I saw a short street called "rue du vieux pont", which ended in an old stone bridge abutment. This was where the old bridge had been.
|Yesteryear's Bridge||Old Bridge Piling|
Done exploring, I headed north along the main street, which was also the continuation of the combined Highways 335 & 337. Within town, the streets were so narrow that I had to ride on the sidewalk so that the impatient cars could pass me by. Slowly the close buildings of the old town began to open out and the street became more like a road. It took a long time to get clear of the town and back out into "the country", though.
At 16:00 I came to the Hwy 335/337 split. I followed Hwy 335 to the right, towards Ste. Julienne. Most of the traffic, thankfully, went the other way.
|Quiet Rte 337 after 335/337 Split|
The road was much quieter than before, but not nearly as quiet as I had remembered it back in 1974. Then there had been only one car every few minutes. Now there was almost always a car visible somewhere. The road must have been leading just along the edge of the valley, for there were a number of ups and down. At one point, after a modest climb, I passed by a small community around a private lake. Then the road dropped back down to the valley. I came to a crossroads, where I had the option of either going right to l'Espirit or left to Ste. Julienne. I turned left at "La Fourche Junction" and immediately climbed back up out of the valley.
|Road climbs after Des Fourches junction|
|Farm after Des Fourches junction||Overlook from Rte. 337 after Des Fourches junction|
It was 16:45 when I finally descended a long hill into Ste. Julienne. The church was beautifully lit by the late afternoon sun.
|Descent into Ste. Julienne on Rte. 337||Approaching Ste. Julienne on Rte. 337|
Just past the church, I turned to climb up "Government Road", to join Hwy 125 at the top of the hill. It took me right past the cemetery. I knew from before that Hwy 125 and the newer 'business section' skirts the eastern side of town, and that it would be out of my way to go that way. I had discovered this shortcut in 1974, upon my return, when the road broke right at a "V" interchange . Now, however, Government Road was only a minor road, accessed by a hard right turn from the main road. It was in descending this hill in 1974, that the rainwater washed the salt of my sweat into my eyes and I was running almost blind!
Hwy 125 was much busier than the quiet road I had been used to, but at least there was a paved shoulder. I rode by Ste. Julienne's small beach and rest area, where I tried the tourist info office, but it was closed. At 17:15 I came to the turnoff for Rawdon at the Hwy 125/337 split.
I was once again on a smaller road again with no shoulder. There was one long and gradual hill to climb, and then I began to coast downhill. I came to a point where I saw the old road curving around a hillock which the new road just blasted through. It was right near the official "Entrance" to Rawdon
|Welcome to Rawdon|
|Rawdon: Old Road|
Soon afterwards was the steep descent to the bridge over the river and then the Dorwin Falls municipal park, which I reached at 17:40.
|Rawdon: Descent to Falls Bridge||Rawdon: River above Falls|
The park gate was already closed and only a few cars and people were left inside. I rode over to the casse-croute and bought myself a water. Then I walked the bike down to Dorwin Falls and relaxed with my water.
|Rawdon: Falls Overlook|
|Rawdon: Below Falls||Rawdon: Overlooking River|
When I came back up to the casse-croute at 18:00, it was closed. I used the pay phone to call Sheryl and give her directions to Rawdon. I told her my phone was on and that she should call when she got to the corner of Queen Street.
I then went for a ride-about. I rode down to Queen Street and looked out over the river valley. Then I rode to the far end, and went down by Rawdon Beach. I had never realized before that Rawdon was sandwiched between two lakes. As I rode I checked out restaurants with terraces. I found one in town, on my way through, but when I passed back by the terrace was full. I ended up on the terrace at Le Tournesol at around 19:00. (This was the same restaurant that I used to come to in the mid-seventies).
I got a corner table on the terrace and sat down to have some beers and await Sheryl. She arrived around 20:00. I had called her about 7:50 and she had been in Ste. Julienne, so I gave her final directions. She had no trouble finding me. We had dinner (Sheryl had ribs and I had pizza) and coffee and finally set out for home around 21:30.
Alex was due to be home at 23:00. Normally there would have had ample time, but we got caught in a ridiculous traffic jam at the Terrebonne Bridge, where we lost half an hour. Because of other closures and construction, I had to take the 440 west to the 13 and come around on the 20. When got home at 23:00, Alex was waiting for us at the door.
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