It was the long weekend, and I had two consecutive days free without the kids. (At that time, I was taking them for 3 days each week.) I set off on the first of my 'overnights' of the season, short trips where I would camp at my destination and then return the next day (a habit which I had begun the Summer before).
This would be my first trip along the Hudson shore, my first time across the Carillon ferry, my first visit to Carillon in many years, my first ride along the north shore west of Oka since my youth, and my first ride along the full length of the Vagabonde bike trail. Also of note is the Monteregie Tourist Guide that I picked up at a tourist kiosk along the way. The map at the back of this tourist guide showed a thin green line along the Train du Nord bike trail. It would be on the sole evidence of this map that I would ride blindly north towards St. Jerome later in the Summer.
The original write-up of this trip can be found in Bike93. It is a rather confused document, written more as instructions for riders rather than as a story. The current account of the Carillon '93 ride is based on three different sections of that document (    ) , with additional material added from memory, and is presented in a more sequential manner.
It was a bright, sunny day when I set out on the first leg of my ride, along the by then familiar path to Ste. Anne de Bellevue via the Lakeshore, as described in the following generic account written at the time (with newer commentary included).
Montreal West to Ste. Anne de Bellevue (and points west)
- This route is best done in the cool of the morning. On Sunday morning, certain sections of the lakeshore road are closed off to all but bicycle traffic. It is about a two hour ride.
- Follow the Lachine bicycle path to its end at the Dorval Line. [For those not familiar: The Lachine Bikeway actually ends at the end of the canal. City of Lachine and Federal Parkland bikeways continue.] Cross the road at the end of the Lachine Bikeway and ride on to where the canal meets the lake. There is a bridge crossing the canal at this point (near the marina).
- Turn right and cross the bridge. Follow the bikepath onto Ile Monk and follow it along there until it rejoins the road. It then stops for half a kilometre, resuming near a Dairy Queen. Continue along by the water's edge.
- In season, go straight and onto a long peninsula, with the marina on one side and the river and Kahnawake on the other. At the end of the peninsula is a bicycle ferry which will take you across to the Dairy Queen.
Follow Lakeshore Boulevard through Dorval. As it enters Pointe-Claire, you come upon the vast cove of Valois Bay. At its head, you are right next to the Hwy 20. Then you go back out to a point jutting out into the lake. At a certain point you abruptly turn right and leave the lake. The road goes on through old Pointe-Claire. Very nice. As the road enters Beaconsfield, look for the turn off for Lakeshore Rd to the left. It is very scenic and quiet, and much nicer than Beaconsfield Blvd. It rejoins Beaconsfield Blvd. at St. Charles Rd. Turn left and follow Beaconsfield Boulevard west. Go about a mile, along pretty uninteresting road. Watch carefully for Circle Rd. on the right and Neveu on the left. This street, to the left, is the hidden access point to Beaconsfield's bikepath along the lakeshore. If you miss Neveu, take Bretton Woods, St. Louis, Fieldfare, or Woodland, all to the left. The lakeshore route is much nicer, though Beaconsfield Blvd. ends up in the same place.
[I must have just recently discovered the access to this hidden path. I found the path while riding eastward from Ste. Anne. Later, coming westward, I could not locate its beginning. There was one ride, about this period, where I nosed my way into every cul-de-sac along the way, trying to find the way along the river's edge.]
It rejoins the main road at the Baie d'Urfé line. Follow Lakeshore Rd. through Baie d'Urfé. As you enter Ste. Anne de Bellevue, you cannot miss MacDonald's College on the right. There is a bicycle path along the road through the college grounds. It rejoins the main road as you enter the old town of Ste. Anne. At Ste. Anne, get off and walk your bike down along the promenade by the river and canal. There are lots of restuarants. Walk up to the locks. You can walk you bike across the locks and picnic on the other side, under the bridges. Passing freight trains will startle you! Watch the boats in the canal and shooting the rapids. Walk on up to the jetty leading out into Lake of Two Mountains. Plan to spend a couple of hours, at least. You can return the same way, or continue on the road north, as it enters Senneville and becomes Gouin Blvd. Senneville has some nice mansions and you even go by a couple of farms! Then the road gets busier. The return via the north is longer, and extra hour at least. Points west: Go under the bridge and follow the approach road back east, up the northern approach. Access is a couple of blocks east. Once onto the bridge, the sidewalk is fenced off from the traffic and crossing is pleasant.
[Obviously, the bike ramp access to the fenced off sidewalk had not yet been established. I remember on a later trip nosing my way around the same area and not finding the access. They must have closed off the access from the highway entrance ramp when they built the new access from the waterfront.]
Dropping onto Ile Perrot, however, you will face 3 km of hell. Narrow pavement, no paved shoulder, and cars flying by as if they were on the freeway! You will be very happy when you reach the second bridge, heading over into Dorion.
[This is different from experiences I have had in more recent crossings, when there has been a wide, paved shoulder. It must have been paved subsequent to this 1993 description.]
At the far side of Ile Perrot, I took a detour into the large shopping centre and visited Canadian Tire. There I augmented my single, thin blue foam mattress with a large, orange roll-up of air pockets. Although it was large, it did not weight very much.
When I came down off the bridge into Dorion, for only my second visit by bicycle, I turned immediately to the right onto St. Charles, which was the first intersection. It soon became a quiet, narrow street which went through Old Dorion and Veaudreuil, until it broke out into the open sunshine, by the shopping centres near the Highway 40 crossing. Along the way, I made a stop at the Tourist Information Kiosk and picked up a guidebook for the Monteregie region.
Continuing on straight from the highway crossing, St. Charles became Avenue Roche, which I followed it to the end, where was a turn off for Veaudreuil-sur-le-lac. I kept to the main road as it turned to the left. Then, quickly afterwards, there was a turn off to the right for Chemin de l'anse, which I followed.
Chemin de l'anse was a quiet, simple road that paralleled the water of Lac des deux montagnes. With my field glasses I could look across the lake to the beach at Oka and see the hordes of people. Above, I could make out the Trappist monastery, nestled in between the Two Mountains.
The road was open to the water side and set high above the water's edge. The water was, I am afraid to say, dirty and polluted. Pollution, it seems, can come as much from 'natural' farm run-off as from factories. Each farmer's ditch emptied into a pipe under the road which disgorged the dirtiest, filthiest smelling water possible into the lake.
After winding around the wide cove, the road left the water's edge as it turned inland at the point. It became a simple farm road, with trees and villas to the right, along the water's edge, and farms to the left.
Upon reaching the Town of Hudson, Chemin de l'anse became simply "Main Road". There was a long stretch of winding through the country mansions of this tiny English enclave before I came, at last, to the centre of the village. Hudson was a wonderfully quaint little town.
I stopped and had a delightul lunch at the "Tea Room at L'Eggs", a small and fashionable old English style tea room, similar to the one that used to be at Ogilvy's, which was attached to a trendy clothing outlet. I was lucky enough to get one of the two tables out on the terrace. I was also lucky to get there before 16:00, the early hour at which they close.
After my lunch, I headed east out of Hudson. For a while, the tiny road passing wooded estates feeling continued. There were quite a few hills, as the road would rise up high above the water.
Slowly, though, the road grew flatter, as it opened out into farmland. The houses along the shore grew more modest, until becoming quite ordinary and modern. The small, country road eventually came to an end at Rte. 342, about 6km east of Rigaud.
I took the main road, which was uninteresting in the extreme, on into Rigaud, passing under Hwy 40 as I entered the town. Rigaud was a fairly large town, over which loomed a tall mountain topped with a church. At the town centre, I followed Rte. 342 as it turned to the right. Straight ahead, the road continued as Rte 325. I crossed over the Rigaud River and passed by, heading upriver along its northern bank, an interesting road which bore future exploration: Chemin du haut de la chute. As Rte. 342 left Rigaud, I passed once more over Hwy 40.
Once I crossed over the Trans-Canada (the 40), Rte 342 became very quiet. I just followed the signs for Pointe-Fortune and the ferry. About 6km out of town, I came upon a private campground, Camping Trans-Canadien. It was here that I would say, although I would not highly recommend it again. (Later, I would pass by a much nicer, though smaller, private campground on the Carillon side. I knew, also, that there was an Ontario Provincial Park just past Pointe Fortune, but I was not sure how to access it from the Quebec side.
It had taken me 6 hrs, at roughly 15km per hour, to reach Pte. Fortune.
|Pte Fortune: Campground from 1993|
I rode down the dusty hill into the campground and registered. I was given a space over in an out-of-the-way wooded section known as camping suavage. It was very dark and wet under the trees, and so I was immediately attacked by mosquitos as I set about erecting my tent. I had to bathe myself in the Deep Woods Off repellent that I had with me.
After setting up my tent, I set off toward the town of Pointe Fortune, to see what was there. Just a ways down Rte 342, there was a turn-off towards Pointe Fortune and the ferry. The little town had little. Except for a casse-croute right at the ferry dock, there were no restaurants or other businesses. (I did not ride on to discover that the western part of town was actually in Ontario. I had always thought the border was at the dam. I would only discover the western end of town upon returning by car in 2000.)
I boarded the ferry, at a cost of $ 1.50, and rode over to the town of Carillon. Alas, there were no businesses or restaurants there either!
I decided to ride up to the dam and spend some time visiting the locks (one single twenty metre lock!) and the power dam. I spent time admiring the scenery.
|Carillon: Downstream from Dam, Ontario Side|
|Carillon: Closeup of Ferry|
|Carillon: Dam from Ferry|
|Carillon: Hydro Dam|
Having satisfied myself with the scenery, I felt it was time to begin to worry about supper. I set off on the road heading east of Carillon. Almost immediately there was a large hill to climb. Near the top, I passed by a much nicer campground, and wished that I had known about it. I continued on over the hill and came down into a semi-rural township. There was a left turn at the base of the hill, and then the road followed the crest until it came to a bridge over the Rivière du nord. I was about 6km from Carillon, having ridden some 20 minutes.
I was at the entrance to the small town of St. André, which stretched along southward along the river. Northward, along the river, I would be only 10km from the town of Lachute. I rode into town, looking for a restaurant. I finally found a small greasy spoon called "Chez Dédé". The food ended up being pretty good.
Dusk was getting on as I quit the restaurant to begin my trek back. As I was riding up over the hill towards Carillon, I had fears of missing the last ferry. Luckily, I did not. The last stretch, along the Pointe Fortune road, though, was done in complete darkness. I had a hard time navigating by only the glimmer of starlight. I was happy to finally come to the familiar street light in front of the campground.
I did not feel ready to retire for the evening, though. So I took a walk down through the campground to the docks. I walked out as far as I could into the river along the floating wooden walkways. Then I just sat out there looking up and downriver at the lights, at the stars above, and at the halo of light showing on the horizon, from distant Montreal. It was very quiet and peaceful. No one came out to bother me.
I began my morning by retracing my ride of the previous evening: Over the ferry to Carillon and along Rte 344 as far as the restaurant in St. André East. I had breakfast at 'Chez Dédé'.
Leaving St. André East, Route 344 head south along a calming, tree-lined setting, paralleling the Riviére du nord. Then, alas, the road turns inland near the mouth of the river, and heads into farmland. There are a few moderate climbs, but one is rewarded by various views of the river as it widens into The Lake of Two Mountains
When I got to the village of St. Placide, which the highway bypassed inland, I took a side trip down to the public wharf. It was well worth the trip, as I got a great view of the river as it was slowly widening into the Lake of Two Mountains.
I did not explore Pointe des anglais, for fear of losing too much time, but I feel that a side trip down there might well have been worthwhile as well.
I then found myself entering the area of Kanesetake, site of the 1989 Mohawk uprising and the barricade. Although I was on the main road, I felt a certain apprehension. Not all eyes looked kindly upon me. Route 344, which had become somewhat flat for a while around Ste. Placide, resumed its twisty up and down course.
|Oka: The Famous Hill,
looking down Rte 344 towards town
At the far side of Kanesetake, I came upon the infamous Pine Woods and the "Hill". The Pine Woods are certainly worth defending. The very thought of cutting these magnificent trees down to make way for a golf course is shocking. I, of course, sympathize with the Mohawks. The site of the barricade was well chosen, looking out over the town of Oka from on high. The SQ who stormed it, with the regretable loss of life, obviously had no military training. One could have stood off an army from that vantage point.
I rode down the hill and through the town of Oka. I passed by the ferry wharf, but did not stop to explore it. As I was heading out of town along Route 344, I noticed the bike path coming up from the town to meet the road near the Oka Park entrance.
I was not looking forward to riding over the Two Mountains along Route 344, so I ducked into the park, to explore if there might not be a bike path along the shoreline that would avoid the climb. I had, after all, seen the beginning of a bike path at the Two Mountains end a couple of years before. I rode down through the park until I came to the beach. At the beach was a small shack where the park rangers sat. I asked them if there was a bike path eastward, and they gave me a map and pointed out how I could go. While there was still a modest climb involved, it was far less than going by the Trappist Monastery. I was warned, though, to keep my helmet on as I passed a certain section, for eagles had been known to attack cylists!
I came back via the now familiar Vagabonde bike path, which at the time was all new to me. I described it at the time in the following generic, from which I cite excerpts (with newer commentary included). (Note: Although the paragraphs have been re-ordered, the text within each paragraph will reflect that the description was originally written for the reverse direction.
12. The path ends at the beach. There are racks to park the bikes. The beach is nice and the water swimable (as far as tests are concerned. I would not swallow any of it!). There are hundreds of campsights if one wants to camp overnight.
11. Wear a helmet through the wooded section, as they warn of attacks by eagles nesting in the rocky cliffs above.
10. At the Oka Park end, there is a moderate climb. It is not nearly as steep, though, as the main road. At the top of the climb you reach the visitor's centre, at which you can get a map of the park. After the visitor's centre, you get to coast back down the hill, but watch carefully for where the bike path turns right off the road and into the woods.
9. It is 15 km to the other end of this excellent path. After crossing a few busy streets in Two Mountains, it heads along an old railway right-of-way all the way to Oka park. At the point where it crosses Chemin d'Oka is an ice cream stand catering mainly to cyclists.
8. Turn left on Guy St. You should soon be going past a large polyvalent high school. At the railroad tracks, Guy St. will end. Here begins the St.-Eustache to Oka bicycle trail, leading off to the right. It crosses the tracks and you head off into the woods.
7. Crossing the dam, you'll find yourself in the town of Two Mountains, at the foot of 8th avenue. Follow 8th avenue north, past the main highway (Chemin d'Oka). Follow it as far as Guy Street.
6. At the end of Rue des peupliers, turn right and cross the tracks. You come immediately to a dam. Bikes and pedestrians are allowed across the dam.
[If ever the dam is closed, continue east and you'll come to the main St. Eustache bridge, about two miles further east, then you'll have to backtrack on the other side.]
5. Depositing you on the north shore, you are in Laval-sur-le-lac. Take the road (Rue des erables) west about half a block, to rue des peupliers. Turn right and follow rue des peupliers along the railroad track. [An alternative, slightly longer excursion is to follow Rue des erables all the way around, and look at the fancy houses. It meets up with Rue des peupliers again on the north side. It is about a mile across the island at this point.
4. You will reach the Ile Bizard - Laval ferry. It runs continuously and costs but a dollar.
3. The first street after you cross the bridge is Chemin Cherrier. Turn right to head back east. Follow Chemin Cherrier along the river as it circle the island. At a certain point the main road will curve north and become Chemin de la tour. Follow it.
[The above description was probably written after having only taken La Vagabonde the one time, with the Two Mountains to Ile Bizard section having been done only twice]
[What follows below are two generic sets of instructions for getting from Montreal to the Ile Bizard.]
1. [Early section of this route are along wide, treeless streets which are best done in the cool of the early morning. I suggest leaving at 8:00, no later.]
2a. Access from Montreal West (and points south).
i. Take the Lachine Bicycle Path west to its end at the Dorval line.
ii. Lakeshore Blvd. west through Dorval.
iii. Just after coming into Pointe-Claire, as you're going around the large cove made by Valois Bay, look for Sources Blvd. north. Take Sources Blvd itself, not the route suggested for cars (which is another street.)
iv. Take the pedestrian overpass at Sources and the Hwy 20.
v. Follow Sources Blvd. north past the airport, past the Hwy 40 interchange, past the shopping centres, through D.D.O., and on into Pierrefonds. [About 5km altogether, of wide, busy boulevard.]
vi. Pierrefonds Blvd starts at Sources, heading west. It has a bicycle lane on the north side. Follow Pierrefonds Blvd west several miles, [or continue north to Gouin Blvd.] past St. Jean road, until you come to Boul. Jacques Bizard, which leads to the Ile Bizard Bridge. Turn Right.
2b. Access from Montreal, points north of the Mountain:
i. Follow any road north to Gouin Blvd. Take Gouin Blvd. west. Pass the Lachapelle Bridge at Cartierville. Go through Pierrefonds. Touch Roxboro. Back into Pierrefonds. Then into Ste. Genevieve. Reach Boul. Jacques Bizard and the Ile Bizard Bridge. Turn Right.
Gouin Boulevard is narrow, but has many shady sections.
It's hard to remember exactly how I got home from this particular June 1993 trip. This would have been the second time I came back from Two Mountians via Ile Bizard. I doubt that I cut east along Gouin to Cartierville. I doubt that I descended all the way to the Lakeshore along Sources, although this is a possibility. Was it during this trip that I explored all the possible accesses to Cote St. Luc/Hamptead/NDG/Montreal West from the northwest?Top