Category Archives: Ottawa

Ottawa – Summer and Winter

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The same locks, winter and summer.

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If you look hard at the winter shot, you can see Parliament Hill on the skyline at the far right. Even in this mild winter, the river is almost frozen over.

Another tick on the bucket list . . .

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to skate a canal. Last weekend we laid claim to some ‘real winter’ and headed to Ottawa to skate the Rideau during the Winterlude festival – pure magic!

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We were lucky – this weekend, as for most of this year, the ice is closed. The ice may have been ‘poor’, but we skated all 7.8km of the world’s longest skating rink (at an average skating speed of 5.25 mph and a top speed of just over 9mph!). We stopped for a free technical lesson along the way, not to mention for hot chocolate and  ‘Beavertails’ (a Canadian classic!).

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Then on to Snowflake Kingdom, a wondrous winter playground for the young and young at heart (we couldn’t resist the ice slide!).

Later, after night fell, we were enchanted by the ice carvings in Confederation Park, probably not quite as exquisite as when they were carved a week before, given the freeze/thaw cycle of this winter, but still lovely.

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Winter festivals are awesome!!!

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(See the Ottawa – Winter Album in the photo gallery for more pictures)

Capital time

(Written early in September but delayed due to lack of time to sort out our photos!)


Where are all the people? On a Saturday early in August, it seemed so quiet compared with Toronto! We realized how true it is that everyone leaves this city of politicians and bureaucrats at the weekend when we found it thrumming on Monday night.

Diving into Canadian history; the Museum of Civilization is amazing, beautifully put together in a wonderful building designed by First Nations architect Douglas Cardinal, but also overwhelming. We drank deep of the First Peoples’ Hall, wandered across a continent and  through hundreds of years of history in the Canada Hall and came ‘Face to Face’ with some key Canadian personalities – I was pleased to find I already knew at least something about many of them. (The Wikipedia article gives a great overview).

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Chinese Fireworks over Lac Leamy in Gattineau (the Quebec side of the Ottawa river), were more spectacular even than our expectations of them.

[Not a valid template]A day to recover from intellectual indigestion, sandwiching our exploration of the Byward Market  (one of Canada’s oldest, fabulous foods, with funky shops including a run of high-end boutiques to the east) between exceptional local food for both brunch and dinner (Navarra and Fraser Cafe)  – it was particularly fun at the latter to let the chefs decide what to feed us! Paul risked expulsion from our hotel room – any closer to the skunk he photographed and I would not have wanted him anywhere near me.  Strange that, in our capital city, we also got our first sightings of both a groundhog and a beaver.

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[Not a valid template]It seems as if much of Canada needs to be experienced from the water. Ottawa is no exception – you gain a really good sense of how things fit together (and we still find ourselves awed by the immensity of the rivers). Having absorbed the overview, we headed up the Rideau Locks to Parliament Hill. History and citizenship came together as we toured both the exterior and the interior, visiting the House of Commons and Senate, as well as the library, the Peace Tower and some of the committee rooms. Later that evening, we returned for Mosaika, a fabulous exploration in sound and light of what it means to be Canadian projected against the Parliament buildings.

Of course, this being  August, we couldn’t skate the Rideau, definitely on our list of ‘must dos’. So I guess that means we will be back . . .

(There are more photos in our gallery.)