Looking across from the National Gallery you will notice one of the most striking churches in Canada, the Notre Dame Basilica. The basilica is dominated by twin tower silver spires.
There has been a church on this site since 1844. In 1847 the church was turned into a cathedral. The current church was completed in 1885 in a Neo Gothic style. Over the years the church has been a place of worship for many important Canadian politicians and the site for funeral services for prime ministers such as Sir Wilfred Laurier.
From the outside it is a very impressive building but one should not overlook the interior of the church. There you will find superbly carved columns and a brightly painted ceiling.
Along the Ottawa River Parkway, between the Canadian War Museum and the turnoff to Tunney's Pasture, is the turnoff to Remic Rapids. Here you find a rather interesting and off the wall art collection; balanced stones in the river.
First created in 1986, they are destroyed by the winter weather and the artist returns in the spring to erect new ones.
Wellington West Art Walk…
This is a fairly new event in Ottawa that’s a no charge self guided walking tour of a half dozen art galleries in a West Ottawa neighborhood called Wellington West.. All of the galleries are located within a ten minute walk from each other. We didn’t rush and spent only a couple of hours taking in what the galleries were offering. None of the galleries are large and all of them were lit well and had literature about the artists that they were showing..
Three of the galleries were offering beverages and snacks, free of charge if you want to nibble or quench a thirst.
I’ve done this just recently on a nice summer evening and the “walk” is a good opportunity to take a walk with friends and explore some local artists work and hang out.
As is always the case…some of the work was quite good, and some wasn’t quite, all of it I thought was interesting to say the least. It’s the same story with art all over the World and likely since the dawn of time, ya either like it…or you don’t.
I quite enjoyed the presentation of artists at the Orange Art Gallery. The remaining five galleries are all different from each other and are all exhibiting different styles and artists. The other participating galleries include Cube Gallery, Exposure Gallery, Gallery 3, John Patrick Mills Contemporary Fine Art Gallery, and the Fritzi Gallery.
The gallery of John Patrick Mills is a larger venue and offers a variety of exhibiting artists that’s more diverse than the other smaller galleries, and includes some outdoor sculptures. We used this gallery as a starting point for our tour, the address is provided below.
This was kind of a fun and relaxing way to spend an evening. Its always good to see whats going on in the local art community.
If you have any interest in art and might be looking for something to occupy a Thursday evening that a free art tour might be the answer..
A well kept secret in the more rural area of north-west Ottawa, is Pinhey's Point, a historic site that consists of a large house and 88 acre site that is operated as a park by the City of Ottawa. The site has a great view across the Ottawa River and has a small sheltered bay where boats can moor.
It's certainly off the beaten path, but very much enjoyed by people that live in Ottawa's west end (Kanata)
This well hidden complex is tucked away on a hillside that once upon a time, before trees grew up high, must have had a great view of the Rideau River, a few kilometres above the falls that drain the river into the Ottawa River.
The Billings Mansion is thought to be the oldest surviving wooden framed structure in the city of Ottawa. All of the original structure that dates to about 1827 has been left intact during renovations to the house made after the original construction.
Today, this once thriving farm house and lovely grounds provide a setting for a collection of historic artifacts relating to the early days of Ottawa and items that were used in every day life by the many generations of the Billings family. The setting is amidst manicured lawns and outbuildings and gardens, old and quite large Maple trees and you can see an old ice house and a garage like structure that contains salvaged tombstones from the family cemetery that also still occupies the site.
I didn’t investigate the cemetery too closely but I’m assuming that new ones have replaced the originals that over time were damaged through vandalism and wear and tear.
The city of Ottawa purchased the Estate from Charles Billings, a grandson (fourth or fifth generation) of one of the original settlers Braddish Billings, in the Township of Gloucester, which eventually became annexed by the City of Ottawa.
Braddish Billings was the son of a Doctor that immigrated to Canada from Massachusetts in about 1792; he eventually ventured to the forested area along the Rideau River in about 1812 and by 1813 built the original log cabin at a location not far from this Estate and closer to the shore of the river.
Braddish was about to become a key player in the early development of the region and this little museum and the grounds of the Estate are the Testament to this man and his subsequent generations.He originally worked in the forestry industry here and moved on to further his financial stability, opening up a ferry crossing of the Rideau River close to the original cabin beside the river, he was instrumental in the first bridge on the river that still today bears his name, and he eventually developed land to farm vegetables and fruit that he sold at the Byward Market. I live close by to a neighborhood called Applewood Acres where he once had an apple orchard. His name and the Billings name are synonymous with the early days of Ottawa.
The Estate is the site of various activities throughout the year and deserves a visit if you have any interest in history. The presentation and flow of the museum is well done and the grounds are quite nice. There are maps from the early 1800’s; there is even a signed Oath to the British King that reigned that Braddish himself signed. This was a required formality required of immigrants of the time arriving in Upper Canada from the United States.
Afternoon tea is presented in the gardens during the summer months under a canopied tent and there are special events at Christmas and Halloween.
Access to the Estate museum is from late May until the end of October and as I mentioned there are special events at other times of the year. Consult the website or contact them directly if you might be visiting off season.
A VT-member took me on a day-trip to this wonderful provincial park called Algonquin, named after an Indian tripe. I didn´t know really where to add this tip as this is a day trip from Ottawa. Then I found out that I could make a special page on Algonquin park, but I will add a small tip here as well, as this is a wonderful day trip if you are staying in Ottawa.
We started the trip early in the morning, at 7 we took off, should have taken off at 6 really so that we could have seen some moose and maybe bears and wolfes, which come out so early but then retreat again into the forest. But leaving at 6 sounded a bit too early so we left at 7 and encountered no animals. Apart from mosquitos from Hell, they attacked with a vengeance, we were fighting them off like crazy and I got bites all over my body, even in my scalp. So remember to bring bug-spray, that is like very necessary.
Our goal was to visit the Barron Canyon and hike on the Barron Canyon Trail, which is amazingly beautiful and a very easy hike. Then we visited some lakes as well and a campsite by the lake, which was awesome as it was 27-29 degrees C and sunny.
I refer to my page on Algonquin provincial park for more tips and information on this most amazing provincial park.
Every Labor Day weekend since 1988 this event attracts a hundred thousand to two hundred thousand people over a three day period and is attended by pilots from as far away as Europe...
Gatineau is a Quebec community just across the Ottawa River from Ottawa and is accessed by any number of bridges going to Quebec.
The Festival has become the most important hot air balloon festival in Canada, and is the fifth largest in the world.
Its fun to watch the crews get they're balloons assembled and inflated....booking a flight with your favorite balloon is possible but a little expensive maybe ....upwards of $ 190.00 per person...and take heed...the balloons wont fly though if the weather is not co-operative..conditions must be good...or it wont be safe to fly.
Other than balloons....the Festival has a schedule of live musicians...Céline Dion has even played this gig...There are also a craft market for local and regional craftspeople displaying and selling ,an amusement park,rides,and classic car and motorcycle exhibitions as well as a number of food outlets...even Beaver tail is available here.
Access costs to the site are variable.....this year the entrance fee for Saturday ONLY is $ 22.00...
A one day access on Friday Sunday or Monday will cost you $ 16.00..There is free admission for children under four feet or ten years of age or younger.....Hmmm this is accurate information but it seems a little ODD...
If you're into some exciting color and you want to experience a Hot Air Balloon Festival this event would satisfy your interests...Its more than a major attraction in the City or Ville de Gatineau..
On the Gatineau side of Ottawa near to the Canadian Museum of Civilizations, there is a nice park with fantastic views of the Ottawa River and surroundings. This is the Parc Jacques Cartier and is worth visiting if you are at Gatineau.
The one thing I have grown to love about Ottawa is the abundance of bike paths in the city. Along with the Tulip festival, it reminded me of Amsterdam!
The bike path along the Ottawa River is gorgeous in the summer (but make sure you take some insect repellent along).
If you're not bringing a bike with you, you can always rent one! Details below.
I hope you like cars! Every year there is an International Auto Show in Ottawa. Usually in March. It runs from March-19 to March-23 This can be a good winter activity if you don't like to be outside due to the cold weather.
We usually spend hours at the Auto show and collect brochures, pamphlets, coupons, posters and all kinds of stuff for free. Once filled out a form of evaluation and we won a prize. Not a car, but a trip. The Auto show is held in the Ottawa Congress centre.
The address is: 55 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario.
I had taken a picture of this memorial as a foreground to The Old City Hall without actually understanding what it was all about. It was only on my return from Canada, when going through my pictures, that I decided to investigate further and it really has been quite educational.
The memorial is situated opposite the Old City Hall on Sussex Drive about a mile or so upriver from Downtown Ottawa and commemorates the 822 people who lost their lives during the 2nd World War in Canada, the US and West Indies and who have no known grave. Many of the dead were trainees participating in the Commonwealth Air Training Plan which was predominantly based in Canada. The Air Training Plan was instigated by Britain who needed to train aircrews during the war but had neither the facilities nor the physical space to do so and also required a place where such crews could be safely trained without the daily threat from the Luftwaffe.
Thus Canada was chosen and at its height the program involved 231 training sites, over 100,000 personel and was responsible for the training of over 130,000 people from all over the Commonwealth(about 50,000 of whom were pilots) who then returned to Britain to serve with the RAF.
The "Battle of Britain" was one of the turning points of WWII and whilst there were the inevitable losses of life during such an intensive "crash course" (sometimes literally) those who died during their training are as equally remembered as those who died in action.
The memorial was commissioned by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Canada Public Works Department and unvieled on July 1st 1959 by HM Queen Elizabeth the 2nd.
Ottawa has an amazingly eclectic collection (can you have an "eclectic collection" or is that an oxymoron?) of odd-bod statues and memorials and here out at Dow's Lake is "The Man with Two Hats".
Dow's Lake itself is a pleasant wander (or skate in the winter) up the Rideau Canal, heading south of Downtown, and has a history all of its own. It's main claim to fame is being the saviour of Ottawa during the Great Fire of 1870, but that's a different story from this one.
The "Man with Two Hats" stands majestically across the road from the lake itself waving his twin bonnets as a salutation to the Canadian soldiers who helped liberate the Netherlands during the Second World War and is itself a twin of an identical statue at Apeldoorn.
During the war the Dutch Crown Princess Juliana, escaping the ravages or war-torn Europe, made here home here in Canada and her third child, the Princess Margriet, was born in Ottawa's Civic Hospital.
Margriet returned to Canada on May 11th 2002 to unveil the statue here, having unveiled its original back home a couple of years earlier, as a token both to her own roots and to the everlasting companionhood of the two countries.
In Ottawa, the capital of Canada, 40% of the population can speak French. You can learn some French, too if you go to the Alliance Francaise! At the Alliance, they have classes for all levels of French and fun cultural events to attend. Learn about French art, cuisine, cooking, wine, music, movies, etc. They also have a library full of French books, CDs and movies. Check their website for more information.
While biking downtown, I discovered this beautiful, spiritual grotto, modeled after the original Lourdes Grotto in France! There is a statue of the Mother Mary in the grotto as Bernadette claims to have seen her in visions. A beautiful statue of Bernadette is also seen there, praying. There are many chairs to sit, contemplate and pray. They also have candles for lighting and Stations of the Cross. Follow the signs from Montreal Road. See my Travelogue for more pictures.
On a warm sunny Fall day this is a great way to escape the city and slow down the pace for a while..This past weekend I had the pleasure of showing this little hideout to VT member Jagdish and his lovely wife Deepa who were in Ottawa for a whirlwind day of touring and laughter and dining..
I mention Fall as the preferred time to visit mostly because the setting is just that much more scenic with Fall foliage as a part of the picture...don't let that stop you from visiting during the Summer months though...because the Estates are certainly worth a detour at any time of the year...
The Mackenzie King Estates are a parcel of land...about 230 hectares...situated in what is now a part of the Gatineau Park...just a thirty minute drive from downtown Ottawa...the Gatineau Park is a National Capital Commission sanctuary of some 363 square kilometers that is maintained in more or less its natural state...
Mackenzie King [William Lyon Mackenzie King] was the 10th Prime Minister of Canada.He began his illustrious reign as Prime Minister in 1921 and finally stepped down after twenty two years in power..
The Estates were his personal properties and he spent every Summer here...close to the business of the National Capital,he spent his free time building, landscaping and maintaining the grounds himself...
By 1928 he had moved up here permanently making his residence in a home called Moorside...here he entertained people such as Winston Churchill,Yousuf Karsh,and Charles Lindbergh.
The gardens are immaculate and colorful....the landscaping is beautiful...he maintained a passion for architecture all of his life and committed himself to restoring a 19th-century farmhouse and converted it into an elegant year-round residence.
One the grounds you'll also see a salvaged bay window and door frame structure taken from an Ottawa home that was being torn down in about 1935...his intention...to link them with other structures to create a library ,a chapel,or an art museum...in fact they were never completed and stand today as they were left by him.This area of the Estates is called the Abbey Ruins...
This is a really pretty spot and so easy to get to...once you're in the Gatineau Park just follow the signs for the Estates...
A note worth mentioning...there is a $ 9.00 charge to park your vehicle for the day...so unless you're thinking about cycling up here its going to cost a few dollars to bring your car..
There is a tea room available and its possible to tour the "cottages" of the grounds as well as Moorside...there are washrooms available and a tearoom...
The Tearoom is open daily from 1100 a.m. to 1700 p.m., until October 18 including holidays.The tearoom is wheelchair accessible...
Albert at Bay is central Ottawa and easy going staff with an excellent availability of both...more
I've stayed here for business trip on two separate occasions, the most recent being in February,...more
a pleasant weekend stay, a freebie for spouse after their workplace's Christmas Pary. Excellent...more