Bike Ride to Ottawa
August - 1974



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Bike Ride to Ottawa


Foreword

In the Summer of 1974, my friend Donald's and my long-discussed bicycle trip to Ottawa finally got underway. I was riding the new bike I had bought in April of that year. We had no paniers or racks, so we wore everything on our back in a knapsack. For most of the way, Donald would take the lead, as he had an odometer and so could keep our pace at about 12 km an hour.

Day One

(Mapquest: 2003 map)
Montreal to Ottawa: 1974-1
[See Unmarked Original]

 

Despite our best intentions, it was nearly Noon before we got started out from Donald's house in Rosemere. The first part of the ride re-traced the route I had pioneered in 1971, but past St. Eustache all was new. I remember pausing at the base of the Two Mountains and looking with trepidation at the long climb. Coming down the far side, and racing past the entrance to Oka Park and on into the town of Oka, was quite a thrill! After such a huge climb, the hill out of Oka must have seemed puny in comparison, for I have no recollection of it.

We rode past Carillon, which I remembered from several visits with my parents. As we rode up around the dam and onto the elevated causeway, we began to suffer from the sun. We did not think to research such things as water intake. The road around the dam was desolate and seemed to go on forever. Lined on both sides by scrub forest, it offered no respite from the beating sun. When we finally got into Grenville, we both felt sick and had to lay down in the town park, under the shade, for some time before being able to continue.

(Mapquest: 2003 map)
Montreal to Ottawa: 1974-2
[See Unmarked Original]

 

At Grenville, the quieter Route 344 merged with Route 148, coming from Lachute. Suddenly having to hug the shoulder of such a busy road was a shock. There were lots of trucks!

As it was getting late in the evening, we began to think about lodging. We stopped into a couple of riverside tourist cabins and campgrounds, asking after a place, but they were all full. We began to worry, as dusk was advancing rapidly. Finally, we found an old hotel in tiny, forgotten town, above a bar, with a stairway in back. We rented a room and brought out bicycles upstairs. I forget where we ate. Perhaps it was downstairs in the very place we stayed.

Day Two

We got up the next morning and had breakfast somewhere. As we rode along Route 148, we came into an area of thick woods. We were will away from the river, but to our right (north) was a steep embankment. Our road remained relatively flat.

We came upon the Chateau Montebello complex, and so decided to ride in for a "look-see". We were impressed as we rode our bikes around the magnificent lodge, built of logs. We did not get off to go inside though.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 1974 Ottawa Trip)
Chateau Montebello

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on Aug 03 Ottawa Trip: Day 2: ~ 11:00)
Face au Chateau Montebello

 

(Mapquest: 2003 map)
Montreal to Ottawa: 1974-3
[See Unmarked Original]

 

The rest of our trip was fairly uneventful. The trees gave way once again to open countryside, and we regained our view of the river. The embankment to our right faded, and we were out into flat countryside. The highway remained as busy as ever. I was surprised at hour fast the miles actually faded past. Every few minutes we would pass a mileage sign, and I could see significant progress.

At one point we approached and passed a large pulp wood plant, whose smokestack we had been observing for the longest time. We came upon the urban conglomeration of Hull almost by surprise. Suddenly the highway became a wide, suburban boulevard, with the typical malls and parking lots on either side. Not long after, we were sitting in the park across the river from Ottawa.

We had left Rosemere about Noon, or even a bit later, and had cycled until about 21:00, with perhaps an hour's stop at Grenville. We could call it 8 hours cycling. The next morning, we got an early start and arrived in early afternoon, stopping briefly at the park across from Ottawa to savour our accomplishment. It may have been about 6 hours cycling. The total was probably about 14 hours.

We proceeded to cycle around Ottawa's magnificent trails for a couple of day, and then we packed the bikes onto the train and came home.

(Mapquest: 2003 map)
Montreal to Ottawa: 1974-4
[See Unmarked Original]

Around Ottawa

We would stay at our regular venue in Ottawa, the youth hostel that in a high school gymnasium, just south of the Canadian Forces Barracks complex (now completely gone) alongside the Canal.

We did some minor afternoon riding, around the Rideau Falls area.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 1974 Ottawa Trip)
Rideau Falls

 

We passed some apartment buildings with the timely name of 'Watergate'. I saw a house being demolished and thought it was photo-worthy. We also came upon the newly-opened Chinese Embassy (Canada had only just recently opened diplomatic relations with Red China.)

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 1974 Ottawa Trip)
The 'Watergate'

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 1974 Ottawa Trip)
Demolition

 

We went for supper at a steak place along Bank Street. While riding back from there, I had a minor accident, slamming into the door of a parked car. I was upset, but luckily neither I nor my bike were hurt.

The next morning, we started out at Parliament Hill with the changing of the guard.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 1974 Ottawa Trip)
Parliament Hill: Changing of the Guard

 

Following the 10:00 display, we rode on down along the Rideau Canal until we got to the Lake, where we locked up our bikes and rented a canoe. (Not to be confused with the 1973 Ottawa trip, where we stayed after the changing of the guard and jumped the long tourist line for a tour by catching a French one. We then walked along the Rideau Canal, stopping in to catch the tail end of the Highland Games at the football stadium. On that trip, we rented bicyles for a day from the same place where we rented the canoes, and previewed some of the same routes we would take this day.)

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 1974 Ottawa Trip)
Canoe Ride

 

We tried to portage the canoe above the locks leading into the lake, but were unable to lift its heavy aluminium shell. We ended up, then, riding up the Canal to where it joins the Rideau River at Hog's Back.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 1974 Ottawa Trip)
Hogsback

 

We followed the trail back down along the Rideau, and through the new 'outskirts' of town, past all the new government buildings set amidst their vast, groomed expanses of green. Following our trail map, we swung around past Parliament again and headed west, to where we crossed the Ottawa River to connect with the bike trail up into the Gatineau Hills.

As we had discovered the year before, after running through miles of forest, this trail came to an inglorious end on a rise overlooking a small lake. There was nothing there except the end of pavement.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 1974 Ottawa Trip)
Gatineau Hills: Lake at End of Trail

 

As evening was approaching, we followed another trail that headed westward, ending at the city limits.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 1974 Ottawa Trip)
Late Evening: Suburban End-of-Trail
[See Original] [See Original]

 

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