Cycling around Ottawa, Mont Laurier and Montreal With Mom
This travelogue follows a journey around south eastern Ontario and south western Quebec. My mom and I traveled the Prescott-Russell Recreation Trail, Véloroute des Draveurs, P'tit Train Du Nord, various other roadways and véloroute.
- 1. The Grand Barn Campground, Vankleek, Ontario
- 2. Camping Paradis, Bourget, Ontario
- 3. Hotel, Gatineau, Quebec
- 4. Low, Quebec
- 5. Camping Le P'tit Lac, Messines, Quebec
- 6. Aumond, Quebec
- 7. Mont Laurier, QC
- 8. Nominingue, Quebec
- 9. Camping Desjardins, Saint Faustin Lac Carré, Quebec
- 10. Lac Lafontaine Camping, Saint-Jérôme, Quebec
- 11. Camping L'Escale, Point Calumet, Quebec
- 12. The Grand Barn, Vankleek, Ontario
Today, mom and I drove to our starting point, The Grand Barn, which is on a little peninsula of Ontario that juts eastward between the St Lawrence and the Ontario rivers. The Grand Barn is a very laid back campground, and the owners agreed to let us leave the car here while we adventure. That makes it a great launch spot.
This is mom's first time at a nudist campground.
Afterthought: The Grand Barn closed for a while since the trip, but seems to have been rekindled as a B&B.
We cycled today to Camping Paradis, which is near Bourget, Ontario. In this region of Ontario, there seems to be strong Francophone influence.
The trail had a few rough spots but was mostly okay. We passed a huge solar farm, and through a peat bog wetlands where they're growing sod. We stopped for lunch at the Plantagenet trail pavilion and tried one of the MREs that mom received recently. Not great, but okay.
The day was rather hot, and there weren't places to get water. We passed a trail maintainer, who was nice enough to provide us some water; I fear we would have run out otherwise. As we neared Bourget, a storm rolled in and we ended up getting soaked, but at least it broke the heat.
The campground put us toward the woods in the back, which is rather buggy. We ran some laundry to dry our stuff, and took a dip in the pool.
We made it into Ottawa today. The trail improved the closer we got to the city, then ended abruptly. We traveled a few streets and several bikeways, stopping at a Swiss Chalet for chicken along the way; eventually we got to the the Rideau River which we followed north to the Ottawa River. We stopped there to rest and look at the falls, then crossed the Ottawa and passed through a few parks on our way to Gatineau, where we are staying in a hotel for the night.
Today was hilly as we left the Ottawa River valley and traversed up the Gatineau on roads. We stopped at a grocery store for a rest, fresh bananas, and snacks.
Nearing Wakefield we encountered construction, so we stopped at a Tim's for lunch before continuing on our way north. We should have turned off at the next opportunity, but the construction had me confused and we ended up going over a bonus hill. We also missed a bicycle-friendly auberge opportunity in Wakefield, which might have been good in retrospect--mom was tiring out from the hills.
Instead, we pressed on to Low, although the hills were more gentle after Wakefield. In Low we found a dilapidated, closed motel; there's nowhere to stay here. So we begged at the municipal/tourist info building on the north end of the village, and they've let us stay out back. There's a sort of little park here, with a few picnic tables. Not really meant for overnighting, but they allowed it, and we are glad for it.
Today we we were back to bike trails, following the Veloroute des Draveurs northward. We went through some flat wetlands, past some replanted forests, several old whistle stops and a covered bridge. We passed several pretty lakes in the afternoon, including Lac du Castor Blanc and Lac Blue Sea.
The campground is small but seems nice. We had pizza for dinner tonight at a little Italian place at the 4-way intersection down the street. It was good, although I'm worried mom hasn't been eating enough given all the calories we've been burning.
Mom and I continued up the rail-trail today. When we got to Farley, we should have switched to road; the trail turned into a gravel roadway that was troublesome biking. Some of it we walked. We followed that to its end in Maniwaki, where we had lunch--hamburg and frites, again. I like french fries, and I'm burning lots of calories, but even so I am getting tried of deep-fried crap.
After lunch, we were back on roads. We crossed the river and were on to Aumond (pronounced oh moe), where the municipality allows camping on a little park they have in the middle of town. It's a little buggy near the woods, but not bad if we stay away.
There's also a dam, some old foundations and ruins from the days this was an old mill town. It was probably a big deal back then, but now there isn't much here--a convenience store, post office and an Italian restaurant. But that Italian place, they make the food from scratch. When we stopped in, they were cutting up the pizza dough they'd made earlier and allowed to rise. I had a small lasagna, still filled from deep-fried lunch; mom had the big lasagna. I'm glad to see she's eating more.
There was a lot of uphill out of Aumond, but we were on asphalt and the road wasn't too busy. Once we reached QC-117, the Trans-Canada Highway, though, we encountered more up-and-down and a lot more traffic.
We're staying in a hotel here in town. For lunch, we found a restaurant that had chicken--not deep fried--and both mom and I devoured a half-chicken and a bunch of also-not-deep-fried vegetables. Worries that mom hasn't been eating enough are now gone.
We found the start of the P'tit Train du Nord, the trail we'll be on tomorrow. They've fixed it up to look nice for the tourists, but some of the areas we walked through, it looks like this town struggles.
Today was overcast, and after we got going it actually started raining. There was a little confusion getting onto the trail--there was a detour, I guess a piece of trail was out--but once we got going the trail was okay. It's paved in this region, although there are some bumps from tree roots that have buckled the surface.
Despite being in "Mont" Laurier, we had a lot of gentle uphill for about about half our 55km, but we got downhill after that. In the latter half of the ride I started getting chilled, so when we encountered a "casse-croûte"--a food truck--we stopped for some hot chocolate and some snacks. Afterwards I got chilly again quickly, though mom seemed to do okay--or maybe it's just that she's so tough. Anyhow, we had enough of the rain, so when we got to Nominingue, we stopped. We're staying in the old station inn, now a bicycle-friendly auberge.
This afternoon featured a celebration of Saint Jean Baptiste Day with a little parade reminiscent of Winsted's Pet Parade: heavy on the local feel. Mom really enjoyed a farmer with a tractor dragging a trailer full of antique chairs, tools and farm implements.
Today was more of the lovely P'tit Train du Nord, but with much better weather. The trail skirted Lac Nominingue, then followed the Riviere Rouge. We stopped in Labelle for lunch, eating at a restaurant in the old station. After lunch we continued south along the river until we neared Mont Tremblant, where we left the river and skirted Lac Mercier. We stopped for some ice cream after town. A little later the paved trail ended and we began a long assent.
We're staying at Camping Dejardins, which with our limited French means "Camping at the Money Machine" or "Camping at the Bank". We have another nice but buggy little campsite that is inexpensive and reserved for bicyclists. In the morning, we resume the assent up this mountain.
We travelled the remainder of the rail trail today, mostly on dirt, stopping in the Montreal suburbs. After a little more climb this morning, we went a ways crossing a sort of plateau. Toward the end of the flat, we stopped at a lovely station in Sainte Agathe des Montes, where we encountered a northbound cyclist towing his two kids on a train-like assembly of bike, tag-along, and rolling cart. His legs muscles were like iron.
From there, we had a lot of gentle downhill. We lunched in one of the little villages along the way, and benefited from the long, gentle downhill.
After getting in, we set up camp and I set up a bear line. When we returned from taking showers, the bear line was missing. I tracked down a security cart that was driving around, thinking he might have seen who did it--in fact, he had taken it down himself. He complained about the way I'd hung it, but gave it back, and I found a different place and manner to hang it.
Afterthought: While stopped for lunch, I had suffered a little bit of "intestinal distress"--fearsome cramping, then foul-smelling diarrhea. It was my first bout that would repeat alternating days for a few weeks before seeing a doctor, eventually being diagnosed with giardia--probably picked up early in the trip.
We were back on paved bike trails today. The first trail followed a commuter rail line that runs out to Saint Jerome, so we saw a few trains on our way. In the urban areas we were on roads, some of which had a separated bikeway alongside. Toward the end of the day, we were back on rail-trail through forested areas.
The campground we are at is quite nice, and we've taken a swim at the beach since the day is hot.
After striking camp the last time, we pedaled the last little bit of rail-trail and some roadway to get to the Oka ferry across the Ottawa River. We paralleled the river on roads to Rigaud, where we stopped for ice cream. We were early and I think the store wasn't open yet, but the gentleman paused his work to serve us.
Maps show the bike trail running all the way into Rigaud, but when we got there it was ballast stone. We instead took a road along a river, which was a good alternative. After we crossed into Ontario, I thought the trail might improve, but I was wrong and I foolishly lead us to waste a bunch of energy walking bikes up the trail a ways, thinking it would get better soon. We returned to the road when a driveway presented the opportunity.
We stayed on the road the rest of the way in.
Back at The Grand Barn, mom seemed anxious to go but I persuaded her to stay for a while. It was a terribly hot day, and I was sweaty, tired and hungry. We got showers and dipped in the pool--a silo foundation which had been retrofitted with a liner and filled with water--and ate up some of our snacks. Mom even got into the naturist spirit and went skinny dipping. She's incredible!
After packing up the gear and bikes, we headed back to Rochester. It was a good trip. In all, we were biking for 11 days, cycling about 600km total. About 2/3 of the route was bike trails, and about the same proportion was paved.