Showing posts with label Lake St-Louis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lake St-Louis. Show all posts

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Jacques Bizard bridge

Ile Bizard is one of Montreal's little jewels.

It's an island tucked away in Montreal's north-east wedged in between the Island of Montreal to the south, and Ile Jesus (the city of Laval) to the north.  Ile Bizard is home to Montreal's most prestigious and exclusive golf club, the Royal Montreal Golf Club.  I'm the furthest thing from a golfer, so the club gets short shrift here.

All along the shore on Ile Bizard, McMansions have been springing up.  Every time I go for a ride there, a few more McMansions have sprouted.  It's the water views that hold a special attraction for people with serious money.  Doug Adams had views on the importance of boundary conditions (for instance at the water's edge) in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I'm not sure that the shores of Ile Bizard would have qualified for him, or, for that matter, that living in a McMansion on the shores of Ile Bizard would be the sort of place where you might transcend the human condition.

From the Montreal side you get to Ile Bizard over the Jacques Bizard bridge. From Laval you get there on a wonderful little cable ferry. I've written about the ferry before (click here) and I crossed on the ferry to Laval on the way to Ottawa (click here for that post).

This post is mostly about the bridge and fits as part of the Montreal bridge posts. Click here to go to the bridge posts page.
I wandered down the aptly named rue du Pont on the Montreal side to snap this picture of the bridge.  The bridge is a three-lane bridge and there are overhead traffic lights that determine the direction of the center lane.  In the morning there are two lanes southbound, in the evening, two lanes northbound.  There is nothing else remarkable about the bridge.  It's not particularly long; nor particularly tall; it's not a draw or lift-bridge; it isn't decorated or otherwise arty, and there is no particular magic to its engineering since it's neither cantilevered nor supended.  It's just a serviceable and useful bridge.  Not all bridges are as ambitious as the Golden Gate or the Pont Alexandre III.

If you were in a boat and headed westward up river from Ile Bizard you would enter the Lake of Two Mountains.  Along with Lake St-Louis on the south shore of the West Island, these lakes are Montreal's boaters' paradise.  All along the shore there are yatch clubs and marinas, home to hundreds of pleasure craft.
As a result of the greater concern for environmental issues, the Rivière des prairies is much cleaner than I remember it growing up.
Where the Rivière des prairies skirts the north shore of Ile Bizard the current is very strong.  It's the strong current that makes the passage on the cable ferry remarkably swift.  Just up stream and west of the ferry, the river is navigable  but the navigation channel has rapids that must make the passage fun, but a little choppy.  Unless you have a boat with a very strong motor, you won't make it back up stream.
To wrap up this post on the Jacques Bizard bridge, here is a video taken crossing the bridge back to the Montreal side.  Not very exciting, but it wraps up this post well enough.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sunrise on Lake St-Louis

Today was going to be my first long road trip.  As often happens, work got in the way of fun, and took its usual precedence.  The trip to Ottawa is still on, but it will be Monday, weather permitting.

I invite you to hang around here, because I will take that epic trip, and I expect that there will be a long blog post or two to tell the tale.
To mitigate the pain of postponement, I interrupted the morning commute to take these early morning pictures of the lake.

I cheated a little, taking advantage of the Vespa's ability to go where other vehicles can't, and parked right next to the Pointe Claire pier.  The pier is barely west of the Pointe Claire village. It offers a nice view of Lake St-Louis looking east.
In this next picture you get an idea of where I parked in relation to where the intended parking is.
I snapped my pictures with my Iphone, and, ready to face the work day, continued the ride to the office.
Looking at these pictures, I am reminded once more that I have to renounce the Iphone for these kinds of photos. The focus usually seems murky, and the pictures often lack the depth that I can get with either my ancient Olympus 3 megapixel camera or my Olympus SLR. There's always room for improvement.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The first commute

Before I relate today's excellent adventure, just a little link to the last post. I got my new keys from Jim Hamilton at and they work perfectly. I was apprehensive about the modifications I had done but that I couldn't really test without the keys.

Wow!! is the only word to describe my satisfaction when everything worked exactly as planned.

The Stebel horn is magnificent, and the 12 volt power outlet works like a gem and shuts off when the ignition is turned off. I already used it to charge my dead cell phone on a one-hour ride last Saturday.

Now for today's news.

I set out this morning on my first commute. The clock on the Vespa indicated 7:13 a.m.

The odometer on my U.S. model Vespa LX150 read 1,434 miles.

The temperature was hovering at 1 degree Celsius, just above freezing, but the sun was up and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The forecast called for a high of 14 degrees (about 58 Fahrenheit).

I'm not yet 100% organized for the commute since I'm still missing a rain suit, armored pants, armored gloves, and a suitable bungee net to secure my laptop to the passenger seat. Not a huge problem though, I left my laptop at the office last night and there's no rain in the forecast until Friday.

The ride in was very pleasant. I wore a fleece under my Corazzo 5.0 jacket and had leather gloves. I chose to wear some sturdy hiking boots instead of my dress shoes. They aren't motorcycle boots but they offer a lot more protection than my street shoes. I found the Nolan N-102 helmet fogged easily when stopped, but lifting the visor at red lights brought welcome fresh air, so not really an issue.

Based on advice I got from ModernVespa folks, I plan to leave my dress shoes and suit jackets at the office. Since I am just starting out, I had both of those with me this morning, so the shoes went under the seat in the "pet carrier" and the suit jacket was neatly folded into the topcase.

The route I follow winds along the old highway that follows the shore of Lake St-Louis to the Lachine Canal. From there I take Saint-Patrick street along the Lachine Canal to the downtown core.

I stopped to snap a few pictures.

This one was taken at a park in Dorval looking towards the lake.

This second shot was taken in Lachine at the junction of the lake shore road and the Lachine Canal where my route switches to Saint-Patrick street for the final leg downtown.

The Vespa LX150 has plenty of power to allow me to pace the cars and trucks on my route effortlessly. It's a big plus compared to the LX50 I rented last fall that often left me in the right-hand lane getting passed by most of the traffic.

Once I parked in the underground garage at 8:15 a.m., the odometer read 1,453 miles, so it's a one-hour, door-to-door, 19 mile or 30 kilometer commute. Even though the route is much less direct than the expressway, with less traffic, it's still the same one hour commute. And it's easily the most pleasant commute I've had in a long time.

At lunch time I rode over to the local Vespa dealer and picked up a good one-piece rain suit and a red bungee net for the laptop shoulder bag. Once I get to test the rainsuit in the rain, I'll be sure to give it a review.

All I'm missing is a disk lock or twist-grip lock and a good cable so that I can secure the bike and the helmet when I park elsewhere than the underground garage here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Commuting strategy: picking a route

Commuting to work on a scooter is only a theory at this point.

I mainly commute by train, which is reasonably fast, safe and convenient. Except for having to live my life around the train schedule. When things are hectic at the office, I drive a car. Either way, the commuting time is roughly an hour.

My goal is to commute on my Vespa scooter each and every day from April through October, rain or shine.

The first step for my new commuting strategy was to find a scooter-friendly route to work. The criteria for the route were that it had to be pleasant, with no highway or expressway legs, and also reasonably efficient. The route I have chosen is probably a good part of the reason I am committed to doing this. I'll document my route during the summer on this blog.

My home is on the west island, on the lakeshore. Montreal is an island, like Manhattan. To the south, the St-Lawrence river widens to form Lake St-Louis. Three quarters of the route to downtown follows the old lakeshore road.

It's easily one of the most picturesque rides in the region. For much of the ride only parkland separates the road from the lake. The road takes you through pretty residential neighbourhoods dotted along the way by the old villages that developped along what used to be one of Canada's main early highways.

Eventually the scooter route leaves the lakeshore and follows the Lachine Canal along St-Patrick street. The canal was a nineteenth century industrial engineering marvel that allowed lake boats to take cargo from Montreal towards the great lakes, by-passing the formidable Lachine rapids. The canal was once the main artery for Montreal's factories. Almost all the factories that line the canal are long closed. For a time the Lachine canal was a dismal string of abandoned buildings. More recently, the entire length of the canal has been redevelopped as a parkway with a scenic bicycle path that travels the entire length of the canal ending at the port in Old Montreal. Most of those old factories have been redeveloped in the past 5 to 10 years as trendy residential lofts.

As ugly and forbidding as the canal once was, it has emerged as one of Montreal's great outdoor recreation spaces.

From the canal, which is only a fifteen minute Bixi bike ride from my office, the route crosses over into downtown. Five minutes on a scooter for that leg, tops!

I tested the route several times by car, and, it takes an hour.

So, an hour by car in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic on a clogged expressway; or an hour on a packed commuter train; or an hour on a scooter along one of the most picturesque, winding tree-lined, scenic routes in North America. Seems like a no-brainer.
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.