Midway between Pembroke and Renfrew, you can see the Ottawa River loop north around Cobden, a little town on Muskrat Lake. Renfrew, another of Ontario’s many Scots-founded towns, is now a center of high-tech industry.
Twenty-seven miles east of Renfrew, Hwy-17 approaches the banks of the Ottawa near Arnprior, founded in 1823 by Archibald McNab, a despotic Scottish lord who imported dozens of his countrymen and -women to the settlement and ruthlessly exploited them. This reign of terror ended when the townsfolk banded together and drove him away. There’s a museum in the old stone post office building, and downtown boasts some moderately priced motels and, best of all, Wes’ Chips (198 Madawaska Blvd., 613/623-5492, Mar.-Nov.), an open-air chip stand selling the exquisite Canadian delicacy Americans call French fries. Worth planning your day around, for sure!
East of Arnprior, Hwy-17 continues its trek toward Ottawa with a 90-kph (55-mph) maximum speed posted; occasional passing lanes help you get around the timber trucks. The highway curves gradually southward, away from the Ottawa River, through mostly flat woodlands and a few farms, then converts to freeway for the run into Ottawa.