KVC HISTORIC RIDES TO HISTORIC PLACES
KVC’s mission to promote recreational cycling in the Kingston area could be seen as superfluous – was there ever a region more delightful for pedaling - in quiet reverie or on a fast paced touring ride? The seeds of this cycling club were sewn at Queens in 1972, becoming established as Kingston Velo Club in 1979.
Although at that time primarily a racing club, touring was regarded as the perfect training tool.
In 1982 club President Tom Sylvester wrote ‘Loyalist Roots’, Tours of the Kingston Area, with the introduction: “variety of landscape found in the Kingston area is enough to make the cyclist spin.
The immediate countryside is a limestone plain occupied by small farms and wide open spaces interspersed with historical villages.
Lakes, islands and river valleys beckon the cyclist on…..” All 21 rides and their variants remain valid today, included in Ride with GPS, and featured regularly on KVC schedule.
Look for Desert Lake (Holleford), Hay Bay, Beaver Lake, Smell the Lilacs, 1000 Islands, Prince Edward County, and more.
Although picturesque hamlets featured on these rides appear an unchanged idyll, they often have interesting pasts.
In place of tranquil beauty, many were hotbeds of industry focused on water power.
The stretch of river by the falls in Yarker (Smell the Lilacs) for example, included woolen mills, a carriage maker, foundries, saw mills and the Benjamin Wheel Factory – largest in Canada no less!
Pretty Marlbank’s specialty (Beaver Lake) was a hulking cement plant built in late 1800s.
The local clay (marl) held the right qualities for waterproof cement and was supplied in building Panama Canal.
We have actually cooled down in nearby lakes not appreciating that the mud from ‘marl banks’ is said to be highly beneficial rubbed over the body!
200 workers were employed in the plant at $1 per ten-hour day.
They lived on the job, housed in local homes and a hundred bed boarding house.
Nearby Beaver Lake is home to Lakeview Tavern (Est.1878), serving a mean Sunday Brunch to hungry cyclists. (Note that picture shown as Lake-View Hotel includes an aspiring KVC member.)
Many rides also pass through Centreville, site of Centreville Agricultural fair, held every Labour Day weekend since 1853.
Fortunately, further development followed hydro-electric sites, and we are bequeathed a cyclist’s paradise accessed on paved country roads.
As we celebrate Canada 150, there is still time to collect three stamps on your Heritage Rides passport, qualify for the raffle, and create your own piece of cycling history:
Saturday, July 22nd; Hal’s tour of Historic Kingston – it wasn’t all breweries – definitely not to be missed!
Monday, August 7th; Historic Towns featuring an old stone bridge and operational stone mill.
Sunday, September 3rd; Canadian Icons (Beaver Lake) – see above.