Ottawa River/Rideau River, Ottawa
There are so many lovely river and canal walks in Ottawa. One of them is the walk by the Ottawa River with a starting point from the War Museum.
I love what they have done with this path by the river, there are so many information signs and artwork by the signs - of men sailing on canoes. Similar artwork can be found on the other side of the river in Gatineau.
On the first information signs was written the geological history of this area. Here used to be the Champlain Sea, which withdrew and left some limestone escarpment. And fossils, stromatolites, and glacial abrasions, which I looked for but couldn´t find.
Further on there was another information sign with more artwork, this time I could read up on lumber and the river.
I carried on down to Victoria Island, but the Ottawa River Pathway leads one further down by the river down to the Ottawa Locks.
A VT-friend took me too see these waterfalls in Ottawa and I was quite impressed at how powerful they are. It is impossible to look into them for long without getting quite dizzy. They are not at all big, but just so powerful!
The Rideau falls are located where the Rideau river meets Ottawa river. The French word "rideau" means curtain in English, as the falls were said to look like a curtain.
You can get so close to the falls and have a look at them from the front and from the top, by walking on a platform. Further on there are two much less powerful waterfalls, but I guess they belong to the Rideau falls as well.
There are so many monuments in the park next to the falls (see my tips).
You can get a really good view of the Parliament from the river when you stroll along the Alexandra Bridge. It is especially beautiful at night when the lights of the Parliament is reflected in the river below. There is a pedestrian path and a bicycle path along the bridge. Even though we were there on a late Sunday night, there were still people on the bridge taking a stroll.
There is a sound and light show called Mosaika at the Parliament building (front) from July 6 to Sep 5, 2011. Based on the website, it seems to be a show about the history of Canada. We missed it by a few days, but it looks interesting. It's probably worth checking out before or after the bridge stroll.
We had a blast here! Pirate Adventures runs a pirate ship on the Bay and take families out for tours and an interactive theater adventure. After our kids got dressed up and had their faces painted, we went out on the water for non-stop interactive show that the kids are still talking about! Not to be missed.
Ottawa's geography can be rather confusing, but it is also quite interesting. The city is located at the confluence of two rivers and a man-made canal, which sometimes makes remembering the location of various places and monuments a bit of a challenge. The Rideau Canal divides Centretown from Bytown and the Market, while the Rideau River separates Bytown and Sandy Hill from Vanier. The Ottawa River takes pride of place in the division war, however, as it marks the border between the Provinces of Ontario and Québec. Should the separatists ever win a referendum, it may one day mark an international border as well. The river is much larger than the Rideau River and much more beautiful as well. Parts of it are used for canoeing, kayaking and other watersports thanks, in part, to the placement of nature reserves and parks all along its banks. West along the Parkway that connects Wellington and the Parliament buildings to Kanata there are spectacular bike trails that are quite busy in the winter. Although this is a fairly fast moving river with quite a wide span, it does freeze in the winter (Ottawa winters really are that harsh!) which means that you can get quite a few nice shots of the frozen waters and chutes. I don't believe it freezes enough for skating - you'll have to go to the Rideau Canal for that activity.
Skating on the canal is a lot of fun, but if you're going to go far, I recommend getting into shape before you go out, or you're gonna feel it later that day. Don't expect the ice to be perfect, it's various levels of chippiness depends on the weather. It's kept plowed so skating is possible with route markers, portable toilets (bring the hand sanitizer), and food outlets. Make sure you get a beaver tail, it's yummy, and gives you some time to sit down and rest.
Make sure your skates are sharpened before you go, because the only sharpening machines I found were at the zero marker downtown, which we got to at the end of the day, so skating for 6 hours on dull blades isn't the best thing in the world, but my friend and I had tons of fun and I can't wait to go again!
The Ottawa River is a nice river running through Ottawa, which divides the city into Gatineau (northern side of city in Quebec province) and the southern side of the city (in Ontario province) where most of the attractions are located. There are 3 major bridges across the river (MacDonald Cartier Bridge, Alexandra Bridge and Portage Bridge). Best views of the river and surroundings are from the bridges and Parliament Hill.
The Rideau River, just having passed Ottawa's old city hall (now the Canada and the World Pavillion), tumbles into the Ottawa River, cascading over a dramatic sheer waterfall. Early explorers name the river for the French word for curtain, "Rideau." The viewing spot provides great photographic opportunities not just for the Rideau Falls but of the Leamy Lake Ecological Park and the Gatineau River on the opposite Quebec shore.
The River is great for outdoor activities like a walk, an ATB ride or boating.
There are some old constructions to see, like the water mill and the Rail Road bridge.