Ottawa is Canada's capital. It is a beautiful, bilingual city that offers great cultural delights as well as close proximity to parks and wilderness explorations After living here for 42 years we still find it fun to go down town to explore the new exhibitions and to wander the beautiful streets. The National Gallery, perched on a cliff, overlooks the majestic Ottawa River on which the furs and later the logs passed on their way to European markets. The magnificent Parliament Buildings sit elegantly on an opposing cliff. Separating these great structures is the historic Rideau canal, a World Heritage Historic Site, begun in 1832. Watch the luxury pleasure craft lock through the 7 sets of locks, right in the centre of the city.
You won't want to miss the changing of the guard at 10.00AM on the lawns of the Parliament Buildings. Tour the buildings later. Maybe you'll skip breakfast at home and get down by 9:00AM to walk beside the Governor General's Foot Guard Band as they parade from the Canal to The Hill - a truly stirring experience. If you come in the winter you'll miss the band , but you'll see the frozen canal full of skaters. Change huts and food huts are scattered along the sides of the frozen ice. We love walking around the heart of the city. In summer, its filled with flowers and trees, hustling people and good smells of things to eat. In May people come from all over the world for the Tulip Festival. It began after World War 11 when Holland gave the Ottawa tulip bulbs as a gift. Three rivers meet in the middle of the city.
The Museum of Civilization deserves a day,both for its architecture and for its exhibits. It completes the triangle- the Gallery, the Parliament Buildings, the Museum, each looking at each other from different points of the River. For this day’s adventure you can drive directly to the museum , OR, you can park in the Market area near to the Gallery and walk across the wooden Alexandra Bridge that spans the mighty Ottawa, and arrive at the door step of the Museum. The walk gives you the beautiful views up and down the river , plus views of all three great buildings. While you’re walking you can watch the tour boats underneath and decide if you’d like to ride one of those tomorrow- or at sunset. There is a secret kayak run. See if you can find it on the horizon.
The Museum of Nature deserves at least another half day. Wonderful exhibits which include one of the worlds largest collections of dinosaurs. Maybe this day includes a late lunch at the one of the canal restaurants. You can watch the tour boats on the canal and see if that’s what you’d like to do to take the load off your feet. And there’s more ! the Science Museum, the Aviation Museum and the very modern boldly designed War Museum.
You might have to take a few days off to explore some wilderness. We have easy access to Ontario's wilderness- White Water Rafting (45 min) Algonquin Wilderness Park, (3 hours) Gatineau Park (45 minutes). Gatineau Park has a beautiful winding drive through it which leads to lakes for camping, canoeing and picnicking. These are some of the oldest mountains on earth which have worn down to become The Gatineau Hills. We ski there in the winter. Thirty minutes from our door you are driving in the hills having crossed the Ottawa River over the beautiful Champlain Bridge.
Cycling?? There are 250 kilometers of dedicated bicycle paths through parks, bordering the rivers and canal. We are avid cyclists and love the paths.
Festivals are huge in Ottawa- chamber, jazz, blues, classical.
Quebec City is (5 hours),Toronto (5 hours), Montreal (2 hours), Tadoussac (7 hours) at the mouth of Quebec's Saguenay River where some of our previous exchange partners have enjoyed watching whales.
Our home provides a quiet, comfortable place to relax after days of holidaying in the city or the wilderness. Turn on the music, take a dip in the pool, light the BBQ, open a bottle of wine and relax under the pines. Tomorrow will bring another adventure.