When winter hands you lemons, turn it into a lemon donut: Skiing the O-train pathway

After last week’s snowfall, it was clear that the O-train pathway was not going to be winter maintained this year (or mostly unmaintained – more on that later). My bike shed does not include a fatbike, so using the pathway for biking was out of reach. Seeing the skiers on our walk to school last week reminded me that I no longer need to “ski-bike” to go for a nice cross country ski. I can simply tote my skis a few blocks and begin from the O-train pathway.

And best of all, after a morning of skiing, the route passes by Art-is-in bakery so I can stop for a little après-ski hygge of donuts and coffee.

Hygge: taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary everyday things simply extraordinary

Of course, the outing provided a few surprises in the snow clearing department. When you’re doing “off the grid” winter activities, you have to be prepared for the unexpected.

Starting off from the Gladstone entrance to the O-train pathway – a “nearbour” had already blazed a ski trail the day before commuting to work. Hurrah!


Tip: if you’re breaking a trail along the river or pathways keep it off to the side. This (for the most part) keeps people from trampling over the ski tracks and mucking them up too badly.

Everything is ski-friendly until you hit Bayview station. The station pathway is plowed (makes sense) so clop your way over the pavement. You’ll notice that, for some reason, they’ve decided to plow the remainder of the pathway heading north towards the Ottawa River. Like really well. And I don’t understand why. They even plowed the zig-zag part of the path that connects to the river pathway.



The ski tracks veer off the pathway into the snow-covered grassy area. Follow along until you hit the Scott underpass. The tracks flip over to the left side of the path. (The only time I’ve been happy to see a snowy shoulder!)

The only time I'm happy there is a snowy shoulder

And here we are at the river – you can pretty much guarantee there will be ski tracks in the snow. Although, I only saw one fellow skier on Sunday morning.


On the return trip, I stopped at Art-is-in for a well deserved lemon berliner. The bike racks are still out, so I made use of them for ski parking while I stepped inside.


I love this bakery, but the crowded inside just isn’t for me. Being dressed to ski, I cozied a little spot on the outdoor seating and hygge’d (read more about hygge) up my day with a coffee and treat.


Someone else had the same idea. Arriving on bike – shovel in pannier. (Bike softly and carry a snow shovel?) I saw him riding again today on my way to work.


Following this I skied on to the Idle Hands craft show happening just off the O-train pathway at St. Anthony Street and picked up a pile of presents and some suh-weeet! winter bike holiday cards.


Lemons into lemonade.

Did you like this? Share it:

Comments: 4

  1. Lynn says:

    Love the idea of hygge! It’s my new life motto.

    • Lana says:

      Me too. Ottawa lacks some hygge-ness, but the potential is there.

  2. Awwww hygge is great – and we’re definitely another winter country that should adopt it! (And you’ve definitely got the hygge with a Art is In stop on the way to work!)

    I took a Winter Cities course at UW when I was there for urban planning and I loved hearing about the ideas that nordic countries implemented to make being outdoors more enjoyable. It’s a little like Brent Toderian (who was one of my T.A.’s at UW!) talks about in his article about all the holiday lights: http://spacing.ca/vancouver/2013/01/07/walkable-winter-cities-when-the-weather-is-frightful/

    I used to skate to work when living in the Glebe and it was the most enjoyable way to get there! Here’s hoping that I’ll find an office that I can ski to! Great post!

    • Lana says:

      I’m so glad to find your blog. I used to skate to Carleton when I lived in Sandy Hill. It’s one of my favourite Ottawa winter stories too.