Saturday, September 19, 2009

Last traces of former rail line

What may at first glance seem to be a jersey barrier*  in the woods is really one abutment of a culvert crossing on the former CPR (?) tracks that ran west along the Ottawa River where the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway is now.

The rail right of way was expanded and converted into a car road allowance in the early 1960's following Greber's plans for scenic drives throughout Ottawa. Many of these drives were never completed, but the NCC still holds numerous rights of way undeveloped, waiting for LRT, other transit, or a serious non-recreational cycling network. Toronto, not blessed with the NCC holding open rights of way, is examining if it can convert hydro-electric rights of way into a commuter cycling network.

The right most abutment in the above photos shows up well because it has been painted cream, probably to cover grafitti. The left abutment is au naturel.

Also missing is the creek it crossed. It has long since been redirected into a storm sewer, to the detriment of birds and other natural life systems it should be supporting.

*a jersey barrier is one of those portable concrete barriers used to block off lanes during construction. they can be linked together and provide physical safety to workers and successfully intimidate car drivers. They help ensure cyclists have no room between cars and the side of the road. Popularized by the NJ Dept of Transport.


  1. CPR is correct, though it was constructed by the Canada Central Railway and transferred to the CPR when the latter acquired the former. The line itself was known as the Carleton Place Subdivision.

    A small claim to fame is that the first ever Trans-Canada train passed over this line on its way to Vancouver (though the small bridge itself was constructed later, likely replacing an earlier structure). One other structure - barely visible - can be found just behind the dentist office/former Harvey's (next to the excavation for the 'Continental' condominium tower at Cleary and Richmond).

    The alignment of the Parkway was actually chosen long before there was any notion of removing the tracks; the land for the Parkway was acquired from various landholders over time and only later did the NCC acquire contiguous parts of the Carleton Place Subdivision RoW to add it to the corridor. Nowhere does the Parkway travel on the former RoW, except where it crosses it near Pinecrest Creek. The eastbound carriageway skirts the RoW just west of the creek/sewer bridge, but that's as close as it gets.

  2. Thanks for your clarification David. I think I was being less-specific when I said the Parkway uses the rail right of way ... the two parcels of land are contiguous and continuously landscaped as one property, even if the street pavement isn't exactly over top of the old rail roadbed. The old rail right of way is a valued part of the western parkway greenspace.