A natural capital

As soon as you leave the ceremonial areas of Ottawa (think: Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court etc.) and get away from the other obvious touristy areas (ByWard Market, The Canadian Museum of *.*, etc.) it's VERY easy to forget you're in the national capital of a G7 country.

Ottawa is easily one of the most modest capital cities you'll ever come across, and it's one that's very much in touch with nature and outdoor living. We are the second-coldest capital city in the world, which means when summer comes, we enjoy it. We do everything we can to extract the most out of summer, and depending where you look, it can be easy to forget you're smack in the center of a city!

Another world


Only 15km away from where I live, across the Ottawa river, is Masson-Angers, QC, an old mill town that could be best described as past its prime.

It's so close, yet so far away.

I like to hop on my bike and take the ferry across the river (only $2!) and go for rides over there when time permits.

See, I live in generic, cookie-cutter suburbia on the relatively more prosperous Ontario side of the river. Masson-Angers, and neighbouring Buckingham, on the other hand, are hardscrabble mill towns that are as far removed from modern subdivision living as you can get. There's something about these places that makes them so visually interesting to me. I think it's simply because they're so different from what I see every day in my generic suburbia.

There's an old train station, the paper mill, the hydroelectric plant, and the old dilapidated rue Principale that has been supplanted by big-box generic stores only a few km away.

This is clearly the kind of place that was built on old-school industry and really hasn't kept up with the times.

I'm going to come back over the course of this year and document what I see. Here's a quick taste of what I captured on a quick bike ride last Sunday morning.

On the left, the Brookfield hydroelectric plant. On the right, the now-closed hunting and fishing outfitters shop.


Up the hill from Masson-Angers is Buckingham, a larger, more prosperous town further up the Lièvre River. Since Buckingham is about 60m higher in elevation, the river has been tamed with a number of dams that provide hydroelectric power for both the residences and industry in the area. However, the region was built around logging and which remains an extremely vital source of revenue and employment.

As the river was the traditional highway for transporting logs, something needed to be built to accommodate the logs as they encountered dams on their trips downstream. Near one of the dams in Buckingham, a 3km long log chute was built to allow the logs to gracefully descend the river without getting caught up in the dams or crashing into splinters at the bottom of the falls. The log chute is now a combination bike path/walking path!



It's all about the light.

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