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Local bike tour hits hidden Ottawa war memorial sites

April 26, 2018
Maggie Parkhill, Ottawa Citizen

Just in time for the warmer weather, a local bike tour is aiming to reveal hidden historical gems across the city.

The initiative was set up by Rob Collins and Larry Capstick, two retirees who met while volunteering at the Canadian War Museum.

In dealing with tourists and family members of soldiers, Collins said they realized there was no complete list of all the capital’s war memorials, as far as they could tell.

As history buffs and cycling enthusiasts, Collins and Capstick decided to take on the challenge of researching and compiling a list of all the memorial sites in Ottawa (39 and counting) and mapping three self-guided bike tours that would hit them all.

“They run from the massive ones like the National War Memorial to some very oddball little ones like the memorial to the surveyors on Booth Street, or the one tucked away in the Château Laurier near the men’s washroom on the first floor,” said Collins.

“We knew roughly which ones we were looking for, and we found three times as many,” he said. “Then I’d be walking along the street and I’d go, ‘Oh my God, there’s one tucked away right here.’”

The tour, which launched last May, is adding two new spots this spring that were discovered by Collins and Capstick over the winter months. The first is a tribute to Canadians defending Britain outside the British High Commission on Elgin Street. The second is the National Capital Region Korean War Memorial, located outside the old city hall on Lisgar Street.

Collins and Capstick are hopeful that with warm weather approaching, Ottawa residents and tourists will seize the opportunity to check out these memorials.

“It’s there, it’s a part of our heritage, and it’s a shame people don’t know about it,” said Collins.

He also said all three bike tours are fairly easy pleasure rides that beginners can tackle, with frequent stops to take in the sights (and catch your breath).

Each route starts at the National War Memorial, and spans out across the city from there.

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