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Bike adventures

Along the Ottawa river

Home | Un petit détour-somewhat beyond the trail | A comment on myself-Un petit commentaire sur moi | le long de la voie ferrée | Beyond the mainstream

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For those willing to risk the extra time once attaining the end of the bike path (at least once it comes down to the trail ) they can take a chance going south towards Ottawa by the Gatineau river valley which is best undertaken once leaving the vicinity of "Route Verte" #2 (which is now on the ashphalt embankment) in the town of Grand Remous north of Mont Laurier. This becomes a worthwhile adventure if someone takes the time to go beyond the monotony of a no nonsense ride. Actually for once I took the time to really discover what the immediate vicinity of the bike path going down from Maniwaki towards the northern fringe of the nation's capital holds in terms of scenic beauty and history.

With placid views of sleepy towns and rolling hills the area would look more like the St Lawrence river valley once viewed from the roadway.Once attaining Maniwaki the bike path gives a much different perspective of the region since it travels within deep woodland occasionally revealing sensational lakeside views that give a touch of magic.

While I didn't go towards a truely facinating site of historical interest such as Wakefield (with it's fabulous inn nestled within the old water mill which is so appealing to picture) taking a right turn before (my ultimate destinately being along the Ottawa river ), I did take the time to further investigate (at least visually) what the immediate vicinity of the bike path holds in terms of pleasent surprises..



 I was pleasently surprised by what was to uncover in the immediate vicinity of the town of "Blue sea" which is rumoured to harbor some relic coral strands from another time (if I trust what mr Tomlin of Tomlin scuba duiving in Val D'or indicated ) .Furthermore a hillside look out point offered some sensational views. Despite the apparent lack of mountainous scenery  I was aware that some lookout points  in the area offer some tantalising views...While some interesting lookout points can be uncovered in the Papineau Labelle park, I was pleasently surprised by the Mont Morissette lookout point in immediate vicinity to the town of "Blue Sea" .

After perceiving the region under such a bird's eye view I set my sails on Kazabazua which I consider as a truely fascinating little place with an equally fascinating name nestled at the base of hills which might hold their own little thrills considering the little surprises to uncover from the small rocky streams and falls, the interesting views and the wildlife ...




Once in Kazabazua I as is my ususal self did some awkward sight seeing (such as by visiting a cemetairy some distance before) and took the time to look a little beyond main street which wit its odd number of churches for such a small town and the odd relics looks to me like some outpost with the hills in the backdrop to give this added appeal. Altough things do change and not only for the better since an old house -apparently abandoned with all its furniture ,but untouched- besides the post office gave way to an empty space and a sense of loss. I as is my typical self again took that picture of that barn at the junction with a tree growing on it's fringe and then took a right turn towards the Ottawa river valley. I really pretended to enjoy the ordeal of climbing hills even if I couldn't get a bird eye view from them... Although some roadside gems really made the ride worthwhile even if most of us wouldn't care less about some derelict farm buildings which to be honest seem sufficiently well preserved to make the sight truely appealing...



Along the bike path leading to Shawville
The bike path goes from Hull to the vicinity of Pembrooke

Spring dazzlement uncovering flower patches
(older picture taken in the woods of Lachute)

After a brief overnight stop in Otter lake (I set up my tent at the cemetairy) I resumed my treck ending up along the Ottawa river at Campbell's bay (which is pleasent to explore ) and at this point took the bike path towards Shawville (which is a nice town with a historic quarter) and again took a right turn to cross the river at Portage du Fort resuming my treck the next day towards Pembrooke and beyond...

On the bike path along the Ottawa river in Quebec


The treck I chose took me along the Ottawa river north towards Temiscaming. Since there is no such road on this side of the border the only sane choice left was taking the 17 towards Mattawa and then the 533 (which is an isolated stretch of road that saves me a lot of mileage ) which ends at the 63 which goes down towards Temiscaming.

Actually the treck was far from being without it's own bugs since I find myself lucky to have gone far as the town of "Deep River" in one piece considering the fact that the threading holding the nut to the axle was so worn that a bad bump would have dislodged the back wheel causing untold consequence...I realised this at some point past the point of "Deep river" and was obliged to turn back after trying to tie up the axle to the frame the best I could. Fortunately by some miracle of fate there was a bike shop in Deep river whose owner offered help on a sunday to get me back on track .


Subsequently a no thrill ride followed suit which at one point became somewhat nightmarish once travelling in freezing rain in the vicinity of the same spot I ended up in the last time this happened which was "Deux Rivieres" (which in season has a ferrry crossing into the hills and the wilderness across the river). From town the hills across the river entice to do some exploration. Actually the most amazing thing about the Ottawa river are the hills to glimpse across the river which act like the walls of a forteress whose secrets are best discovered at such points of entry as "Rapides des Joachims" which has the look of a frontier town on the border with Ontario without being directly attainable from Quebec despite being part of the province.

Rapide des Joachims



along the Ottawa river looking south




Despite what may be assumed once travelling on the other side of the river it is possible to uncover some well preserved imprints of history namely in Mattawa (the city center of Pembroke is another example). Apart from the farms and sleepy litte old houses  in my opinion the really fascinating sites to uncover were along the river (if you are a nature lover in search of truely inspiring scenery)...  Although nature lovers are assured to be thrilled by Algonquin provincial park which is a canoeist's paradise and is situated further inland !

Mattawa downtown

The 533, an isolated stretch of road...

The Ottawa north of Mattawa

Since the Ottawa river valley is best described south of Temiscaming, this part of the journey typically described the river up to the lake which on its own deserves a visit . Altough the adventure doesn't stop there.

 Once in the vicinity of the lake some fascinating places on both sides of the lake deserve a visit . In Ontario those which enjoy mining history should take the time to discover Cobalt which in it's heyday was the center of silver mining in Canada if not the world . Since I did previously visit I personally preferred taking the road back into Quebec and passed though the town of Temiscaming since my goal was to discover the eastern fringe of the region including what the other side of the lake held in terms of mineral outcrops...(the Wright mine which was the first silver operation  in Canada dating back to the 1800's-if not before- was situated in the area...)

Gordon river in midtown Temiscaming-An amazing discovery in town !


In the town of Temiscaming don't lose your time just passing through since the town looks like more than the typically unusual place to discover considering not only the fact that architecturally it seems somewhat different but also because it is at hillside. Also there is some noteworthy antique artwork which somehow ended up in town and stayed. I for one find the fountain as being the most intriguing piece on display considering it's claimed age and it's intricate nature. Other works are scattered throughout town and in the church. 

Since part of my stated purpose for passing through was to discover what is claimed as mountainous scenery at the end of the Maniwaki road, I stocked up on supplies and asked for some additional advice including in Kippawa which is the lakeside native reserve on the shores of the lake by the same name whose truely unique character lies with its shoreline exceeding 1000 miles despite not formally representing a large surface area. The lake is a fiserman's paradise with numerous coves and bays conceiling the secret fishing spot attainable after a journey worthy of pirates lore obviously in a boat (a journey best described if you dare risk travelling to the ends of the earth ultimately attaining the other lakes in the vicinity using the small hidden passages ! ) 



Once in the vicinity of Lake Kipawa I took the road passionately named the "Maniwaki" which while going a fair distance towards the stated goal never attains it, abruptly ending at the Dumoine river whose wrought iron bridge approaches 100 years in age. Despite the burdensome journey I took my chance and almost continued past the 30Km spot once pressed by a stranger claiming the sight of mountains once observed from the fire tower in the vicinity of "Desjardins" lake.

Thank god being waken up in the middle of the night by 2 strangers having a party on the road in the middle of nowhere got me back to my senses... Strange to note that despite what looked like a neighbourhood street in the middle of nowhere conceiling a reassuring number of dwellings, I preferred to avoid taking chances on what looked like a semi deserted road mostly after I became aware that my emergency supply of cheese looked like some kind of gooey marshmello with some strange ingredients of the like you tend to find in a bag that has stuffed a lot of different things from clothing to rocks without forgetting left-overs of typical food items...Mind you, I had close to 100 miles to go before getting to a place really in the middle of nowhere...

I thus returned to town in order to avoid becoming another casualty of the forbidding  green desert which for a lone treckker on a mountain bike looked more like hell then a worthwile adventure considering what was to find at the other end without forgetting the return trip. Mind you the sight of an old bridge at the Dumoine river was the initial purpose for taking such a course.






By the way; once in the vicinity of lake Kipawa don't forget to stop at the most amazing french fry stand with what amounts to the most amazing menu !



The return trip became the moment to contemplate the immediate future which amounted to using the ATV trail to the town of Ville Marie with the hopes of encountering the same ape I saw the last time I used the trail. Actually despite the scepticism  the large ape by the mythical name of Sasquash does exist such existence being proven beyond a reasonable doubt at least in my mind..and also in yours if you dare fall on one in a secluded corner of the woods. I for one advise some caution since such primitive creatures must have some peculiar dietairy habits that most probably aren't too removed from ours !  Also ,considering a reality to observe with mankind, gang behaviour to the advantage of the likeminded seeking personal fulfillment at the expense of those the object of their obscure pretentions should also be taken into consideration... MInd you, democracy like justice most often best serves the majority if not those with the means to impose their own interests ....Thank god I didn't fall on a gang of those woodland apes which would probably consider me as appetizing food if not some easy prey to express their obscure pretentions in the name of their supremacy. Mind you the modern techno chimp behaves in a likeminded manner despite lacking the fur conceiling a colourless skin...



Despite what is expected from ATV trails, this one in being on the passage of the ex rail line made for what was mostly easy riding considering what ATV trails tend to look like.  I for one was somewhat nervous and resumed travel on the main road shortly before sundown just in case I'd end up stranded on the trail at sunset .


Despite what appeared as no nonsense travel, I for one did take the time during the day to visit that site indicated at trailside under the name of "cavern" and was simply amazed by what I saw. Altough actually I'm of the opinion that the river flowing below the path of the rail line in solid rock is made possible because of modern technology despite the claims  that it naturally follows such a course within the square borehole of the rock.


The ride down to the cave while fairly straight forward still represented what I judged as being a 100 foot drop to an obscure forest floor which strangely enough was below a beaver pond such a beaver having taken the time to also dam the steam 20 or so feet below the pond, the sides of the pond being mostly solid rock...


Once off the trail, I continued towards Laniel and ultimately Ville Marie stopping once to take pictures from a hilltop...


If this part of the trip seems more fascinating, I'll have to admit that while this region isn't recognised as being mountainous the sight of hills gives more spice to the adventure. Mind you, it is apparent that once travelling a sense of purpose that goes beyond no nonsense travel must be of guidance at least if someone wants to discover more than the same boring nonsense !

Ville Marie, a city of sweet dreams !


Once ending up in Ville Marie I set my sights on the mountain (oupps , hill) obviously to take some pictures... I also obviously took the time to visit town and the most amazing waterfront with it's stately homes. I stayed long enough to be able to pay myself a treat at the supermarket purchasing a large seafood lasanga to cook in their microwave oven. I also as is typical of myself added some pictures including of a watrerfront inn which in my opinion must be a most delightful place to visit and call home for a week or so..

The pictures to see here also include those I took several years back witha truely antiquidated digital camera whose image quality is enhanced with the use of some simple tricks...





Once visiting town immerse yourself in the past by visiting what is left of fort Temiscaming (dating back to the 1600's) which was still standing in the 1950's until the bulldozers cleared the land ultimately paving the way for an interpretation center which does a wonderful job describing the fort..and what is left of it... You also see how close the other side of the lake can be without the need for a bridge to get there...

Lake Temiscaming

Once out of town I set my sights on the really big place to find in the area which is Noranda which to be honest really ressembles a major city while keeping the small town feeling to it at least for those on the outskirts. The town arose not as the result of the need to assure the development of the land through farming and ultimately forestry (which is the case in the Temiscaming) , but as a result of a major discovery of ore which some claim changed the world (at least if I trust what certain rumours claim originating from the aftermath of WW2 ...I personally thought that the story was a piece of balony ! ) . Although the discovery did obviously change the mining least in the immediate area ! 




Link to a hill and mining lore



Apart from the major industrial complexe treating ore from around the world (since there formally isn't any left below ground) assuring lasting use of the facility and the survival of town (at least when it comes down to the direct and indirect jobs associated with the complexe) , the place looks like a little part of heaven at least for me the person in search of a peaceful place with all the creature comforts of a major city.

In it's heyday the region (including on the other side of the border) was associated with most of the mining wealth in the country being the source of most metal and precious metal production. The immediate area gradually evolved becoming more economically diversified while it's ethnicity being influenced by the influx of eastern European immigrants which held the difficult jobs in the mines such as those in Noranda and Val D'or helped further shape some of it's characteristics.

With a university and professional training centers assuring the creation of a qualified labor force, the region seems well equipped to confront a modern world demanding qualified labor which can also more easily adress the difficult challenges of tomorrow.



To recapitulate before terminating
Once considering what I have produced in terms of written content, while I could have included a typical sypnosis describing regions , their history and their current state of social and economic development putting everything under the proper magnifying lense, I'll leave this to the tourist brochures and the relevent manuals...I thus condemn myself to give a simple moment by moment account without the thrills and chills of a more elaborate description... But then isn't this what we actually do see ?...
Mind you, spicy descriptions make better dishes than boring rhetoric...
I'll consider spicy foods for a revised upcoming version to appear at a later time...In the meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed the unappetising nonsense !...(if only such tasks could be done automatrically like putting a DOS command to do things in the background to get what the Dr ordered !... In the meanwile , I'm stuck with the tedious work... )

The flow of civilisation... (picture taken in another area)

By the way, lake Temiscaming isn't the source of the Ottawa. It's source actually is further east-south east close to where this story started ! To be honest, within the Verendrye park the source of both rivers is in such close proximity that one could be tempted to blurt out something stupid once looking at the system of lakes and rivers within the park. ! 

Actually for those in search of the headwaters of the Ottawa taking a trip within the Verendrye park is the crowning achievement for the fools which need the added challenge of confronting the wilderness which continues unchallenged for approximately 100 miles before a timid encounter with civilisation. This year I took the way down from Abitibi instead of going up like I usually do and was delighted by the ordeal. Actually since there is an ample asphalt embankement there is enjoyment travelling at the fringe of a roadway within an untouched wilderness even if the first reaction is the fear of isolation which rapidly ebates once you realise that the next motor vehicule will appear any minute !

Since there is basically only one pit stop to stock up on food which is at the southern end of the park I came prepared to confront the worst knowing that my foolish pride should serve as sufficient advice to prevent me from seeking roadside assistance ! Although , while I could have stopped at one of the many camp grounds to encounter at road side (which oblige access dues) I stopped at the places I typically stop at which from the north first starts at Km 426 (which is where the emergency medical technicians are stationed for those taking their vacations in the park and for the speed freeks that want to break a speed record...) . As typical of myself I plugged myself in for the night outside of the garage of the transport ministry...I waited and listened within the darkness for the sounds of the big ape I had seen once before ...

I left at mid morning the next day and never looked back even if I would have enjoyed discovering the 29 and what appears as interesting hills situated at the north east corner of the park. Actually I almost made the error of taking a 140 mile trip on a gravel road towards riviere Suzie and what amounts to nowhere with the hopes of catching a passing train towards home...At the final moment I came back to my senses acknowledging that despite what appeared as an improved physical condition the reality of 2 broken spokes on the back wheel (which I subsequently attached to spokes on the exchangeable side of the wheel ) made the adventure a little more hazardous even if I could theoretically stock up on food at the outfitters encountered along the way...Mind you despite the fact that these are travelled roads , I once fell on the remains of a 1940's automobile which crashed in the woods making me wonder if...

Thus despite initially taking the road towards the northern entrance of the park in order to take pictures from the communications tower adjacent to Matchi Manitou lake, such a vista permitting a good perspective on the hills at the north east corner of the park, I instead opted to continue further south through the park on a road which I acknowledge is much safer. Although despite my change of plans to be on the safe side I still had lingering doubts about just continuing through without getting a glimpse of the hills which on the satellite imagery appear intriguing to say the least. Despite my initial disappointment taking a better known and more frequented course the escapade was equally rewarding even if once in search of revitalisation in my quest for discovery I was left with a sense of loss...

I also have to admit that despite appearing relatively flat, it is apparent that the immediate area being at the headwaters of the Ottawa river must be at a loftier altitude than where the hills are to be found further down along it's course...


So, if you need to go where it all started just set your sails on the Verendrye park and enjoy the endless miles of sailing or one great roadside beach to enjoy the hot summer weather such as (if I'm not mistaken ) at camatose if not whiskey ! The more pretentious folks can try circumventing the globe following the  shoreline  ! 


Just don't end up out in te cold at the wrong time of year !