East End: Bicycle Path along Old Lakeshore Road
After leaving Pointe Claire Village, one enters Beaconsfield almost immediately, as Lakeshore Road rounds a small cove. Once into Beaconsfield, most of the traffic is carried inland along Beaconsfield Boulevard. Cylists, however, and those wishing a slower, more scenic route, can turn left to follow Old Lakeshore Road on around the point and along the shoreline, separated from the river only by a single line of houses. Past the marina, Old Lakeshore Road becomes one way for traffic as the left-hand side of the road is given over as a bike path. It is usually very quiet along this route.
I have gone both ways. In earlier days, before I discovered the detour, I used to follow Beaconsfield Boulevard. Now, of late, I have gone that way when I am in a hurry to get along westward, typically because my destination is further west than Ste. Anne de Bellevue or because I am late heading home.
|Beaconsfield: Along Old Lakeshore Road|
At the far end of the detour is St. James Park. On almost every passage, this park serves as a rest stop and, often, a place for a snack. Sitting on the benches of the park, which is about ten feet below the roadway, one had a wonderful view out over the water.
|Beaconsfield: St. James Park||Beaconsfield: Lake View from St. James Park|
Next to St. James Park, and at the end of this section of Old Lakeshore Road, is the foot of St. Charles Road. St. Charles Road is the last of the major cross-island boulevards as one heads west. In this last section, though, below Beaconsfield Boulevard, it is just a small street.
Standing at the foot of St. Charles Road, one looks down up the mouth of a small creek which escapes from a pipe under the street. Just a short ways up the street, one can see the tiny creek as it comes in from the east.
|Beaconsfield: St. Charles Rd. looking north||Beaconsfield: ?? creek at foot of St. Charles Rd|
|Beaconsfield: Church at St. Charles Rd & Beaconsfield Boul.|
At the corner of St. Charles Road and Beaconsfield is a large, landmark church. Half a block further on is the McDonald's which used to be a regular luncheon stop, before my diet forced the snack at St. James Park to stand in for the Quarter-Pounder with cheese. It would seem, on many rides, that I would reach this point around lunch time. Just past the McDonald's is a large shopping centre and the interchange with Hwy 20. Although I have passed its outlet on the north side of the Island, I have never ridden across the island on St. Charles Road
Westward one has no choice but to follow Beaconsfield Boulevard. Old Lakeshore Road ceased to go through in the early 1900s, when the wealthy lakeshore property owners donated land to the back of their property for the construction of Beaconsfield Boulevard, so that they could close the old public road along the waterfront. It was a very controversial issue at the time.
Up until around the year 2000, the section along Beaconsfield was a hellish ride. The road was narrow, with almost no shoulder. The pavement along the edges was all broken up, added to the difficulty of sharing the roadway with the cars and buses that zoomed by. When they re-built the roadway, they widened it and painted off a narrow section of shoulder as a bike path. (The Summer it was under construction, I used to ride along the already completed sidewalk, which like a raised concrete ribbon through the desolation.) While riding along Beaconsfield Boulevard is now better, it remains rather uninteresting for one has no opportunity to see through to the water. Although there are suburban homes on the inland side, the lake side is a wall of trees.
At various times, I have nosed my way through all the streets to lakeward, looking for the furthest extent of the next section of Old Lakeshore Road that goes through. It only comes at Neveu Street, though. At one time I went down into the large waterfront park and tried all the small streets west of there, but to no avail. Along the more than a mile of inland route, there are a number of long hills to climb and descend.
|Beaconsfield: Along Beaconsfield Boulevard||Beaconsfield: Turn at Neveu for Bike Trail Continuation|
|Beaconsfield: Along Old Lakeshore Road|
The bicycle path along the remaining section of Old Lakeshore Road was one of Beaconsfield's well-kept secrets. Coming from the east along Beaconsfield, there was until quite recently absolutely no indication that a bike path was to be found closer to the lakeshore. In early years, I simply continued west along the main road, through the center of the former town of Beaurepaire. (The fact that this section was not part of the Town of Beaconsfield in the early 1900s is probably the only thing which saved this section of Old Lakeshore Road from suffering the same fate as the segment further east.) I only discovered the bike path in the early 1990s, while returning from the west, where the split is quite visible. Afterward, for a long time, I had trouble finding the beginning at the eastern end.
One descends Neveu a couple of blocks, to find more than a mile of quiet, tree-lined street. Both sides of the street are lined with substantial houses on well-groomed lots. Traffic is restricted to one-way westward and the other half of the street is given over to cyclist and pedestrians (There is no sidewalk.). As one rides along, one has spectacular views of the water, looking through the various properties.
|Beaconsfield: 'The Split'
Old Lakeshore Road & Quiet Bike Path
Or Beaconsfield Boulevard
|Beaconsfield: 'Start of the Bike Path|
At the far end, Beaconsfield Boulevard descends the hill to rejoin Lakeshore Road, just at the Baie d'Urfé line. Coming eastward, cyclist (but not cars!) can choose to take either the lower or the upper route. Of late, I've taken the upper route a couple of times, but there is no real savings in time.Top