Ottawa and area Parks, Ottawa
Major's Hill Park is a lovely park in Ottawa. And I must compliment Ottawa's National capital commission on their great work in putting up elaborate information all over the city. It is especially true for Major's Hill Park which great information in the park on Ottawa's history.
The park is Ottawa´s oldest park and dates back to 1826 as a green space, but was formally established as a park in 1875. The home of the founder of Ottawa, Colonel By, stood on this hill. There is a statue of ColoneL John By (1779-1836) in the park. He was a British officer and was sent into the woods, as it were, in 1826 to build a link between Ottawa River and Lake Ontario. And voilá - the Rideau Canal in 1832... and Colonel By became the founder of Bytown, the old name of Ottawa.
There is a special artpiece in the park, which the artists made in the park while the public watched. I added a photo of it, it is called Twist 1.5 and described by the artists, Alex Wyse and Ken Guild as being a "wooden spiral wind-vane thing". It mirrors the spiral motif common in nature. It was made in 1978.
There are great views from Major's Hill Park. It starts from Alexandra bridge and above Rideau Canal where the canal joins Ottawa River.
In this area there are so many things to see and do in this area, The National Gallery, The Cathedral, the spider, Nepean point, Rideau Canal, Byward market, views of Parliament Hill and the fairy-tale castle like hotel Fairmount Chateau Laurier. I have added a travelogue with photos of this fairy-tale hotel. There are some great view from the park of the Ottawa River and the Parliament buildings.
The park comes alive during the annual tulip festival. It is an excellent time to visit in May during the festival (see my tips on the festival). It is also one of the main venues for the Canada Day festivals.
There are several bridges connecting Ottawa and Gatineau. One of them is the busy Alexandra bridge. It also goes by the name of Interprovincial bridge. It was built in 1900.
I have crossed the river on Alexandra bridge numerous times and driven by car here as well. Somehow the steel makes so much noise, like a roar, when cars drive on it. It can also get quite windy here on the bridge.
On each side of the bridge are major Canadian museums, on the Gatineau side is the Museum of Civilization. On the Ottawa side is the National Gallery.
From the bridge is a fantastic view of the Ottawa river, the Parliament buildings and the Rideau locks. And of the Gatineau river area.
Soviet espionage in Canada.
There is a park in Ottawa, called Dundonal park, with a very interesting story. It has to do with the so-called Gouzenko Affair in 1945-1946.
On the night of September 5, 1945, Cipher Officer Igor Gouzenko, left the Soviet Embassy with 109 selected documents exposing a Soviet spy ring in Canada with links to other spy rings in USA and Britain - the allies of the Soviet Union. This led to the creation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry, The Kellock-Taschereau Commission in 1946. This led to the strenghtening of Canada´s National security system.
Mr. Gouzenko went to Ottawa Journal with the documents, but they rejected him, and told him to go the RCMP or return the next morning. The offices of the Minister of Justice told him to come back the next morning - not realizing the danger Mr. Gouzenko was in. He went home with his pregnant wife, Svetlana, and their infant son. He returned to the offices of the Minister of Justice next morning and to Ottawa Journal, but was rejected again - poor chap.
By now the Soviet secret police (NKVD) was looking for him. A neigbour let him and his family stay the night. That night the NKVD broke into his apartment. Mounties (RCMP) witnessed this from the park and reported this and next morning the RCMP went with Mr. Gouzenko to The Department of Justice. The Government believed him - seeing the evidence - and Mr. Gouzenko and his family were given a safe house at Camp X. Kudos to Mr. Gouzenko.
The house opposite the park is the house where Mr. Gouzenko and his family lived and hid from the NKVD.
Victoria Island is a historic place in Ottawa and a significant Aboriginal Indian gathering place. Here on the island was the centre for trade, spiritual and cultural exchange.
On the island - fenched off - is The Aboriginal Experience - with various tepees. Here Aboriginal gatherings used to be held. Unfortunately there was a fire here and it is no longer open to passers-by, only to groups. I had walked down to Victoria Island to visit The Aboriginal Experience, so I was kind of disappointed, as there is not much else there. Apart from, of course, a lovely picnic area by the Ottawa river, with beautiful views.
There is a totem pole on Victoria Island called Totem, which was carved by the Aboriginal Indian in 1985. It was erected on the Victoria Island in a traditional pole raising ceremony (see my tip on the Totem).
On equinox there is an Aboriginal ceremony on the island to bless the water. The Aboriginal community wants to build a healing center and a peace building on the island.
I add a special tip on the park by Dow´s Lake from the Pavillion as it makes for such a lovely walk.
Last time I visited the park was in September 2012 during a heat-wave. Due to the location of Ottawa it can get very humid and hot here. I, coming from Iceland, wanted to go to the park and sunbathe. So I went there looking for a good spot. I didn´t understand why nobody was sunbathing, everybody was cooling off in the shadow of he trees. But I found out the hard way. After sunbathing for a short while I was cooked and couldn´t think anymore due to the humidity. So always follow what the locals are doing ;)
Many of the trees in the park have been donated to the park and dedicated to a special person. There were myriads of plaques like this in the park.
As one walks by the lake it turns into Rideau Canal. There are so many lovely spots here by the canal - fairytale like spots with beetling trees and serene surroundings.
One can walk around the lake by crossing over at the small bridges of he locks a little bit further up the Rideau Canal. It is a long way back by the lake and one has to cross the bridge on Bronson Avenue and walk down to the lake again, so it is a bit complicated, but well worth it.
There is a lovely walk into the Glebe from Rideau Canal. I was exploring this area, walking by the canal on Queen Elizabeth Drive. I had been walking for hours exploring the lakes and parks here and wanted to get back into the Glebe and to Powell street, where I was staying.
I turned on Linden Terrace by Patterson Creek. What a lovely sight, a small park which stretched on into the Glebe passing Bank street - still in the park. There is a lovely creek here and when I was visiting it looked like a shining mirror - ever so beautiful. Passing Bank street the park turned into a dog park, or dog-owners airing their dogs, there were dogs all over the park playing without a leash. The park ended at Lyon and from there I walked in the residential area to Bronson. An absolutely delightful walk.
Down-town Ottawa by Elgin street is Confederation park with a lovely fountain and a totem-pole and Indian statues (which is why I call it The Indian park). The park was built in 1967 in commemoration of Canada's 100 years of confederation.
The totem-pole was donated by the Native Indian people of British Columbia to commemorate the centennial of the union of the province of British Columbia with Canada in 1871. It was created by a Kwakiutl artis.
The Indian statue is the memorial to Aboriginal war veterans in Canada and to those that have fallen. Two of the figures hold weapons and two hold spiritual items - it shows balance between war and peace. The eagle is an important animal in the Indian or Aboriginal peoples belief - it is the creator (Thunderbird) and the spirit of the Indians.
The fountain in the park is called Colonel By Fountain. It is interesting that it was located in Trafalgar Square in London for 103 years (1845-1948). It was then moved to Ottawa in 1955. Why I don´t know. It was named after the founder of Ottawa Colonel By.
There is a statue in the park which is a South African War Memorial (see my 4th photo). It is a tribute to Canadian volunteers who lost their life in South Africa in the first years of the 20th century. The sculptor is Hamilton MacCarthy and it was raised in 1902. What is noteworthy is that 30.000 schoolchildren donated pennies to pay for this memorial, how lovely is that.
There are many events held in this park and while I was visiting one day it was crowded with Marathon runners with their base in Confederation park.
On both Friday night and Saturday afternoon we had work to do involving the wedding rehersal and the actual ceremony, both of which took place at this public pavilion located in Rockcliffe Park. This community just east of the downtown area of the city is reputed to be the wealthiest in Canada and the residences of both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are located not far from the Park. Situated as it is on the very nicely forested south bank of the Ottawa River, combined with sunshine and warm temperatures it was a perfect venue and weekend for a wedding! The pavilion can be booked in advance for events such as this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend wedding. There were quite a few other people strolling around just enjoying the sights and open spaces in Rockcliffe Park.
The wedding involved the brother of our middle daughter's husband (the MacDougall clan) with their 5-year old daughter taking part as the flower girl. Our prime duties were to look after their 2-year old son, as well as their daughter when other pressing matters needed to be dealt with by their parents. We really enjoyed the whole experience of being able to help out and also finally be able to have a better look at Ottawa than we did last time around.
Dows Lake is an attraction both in the summer and winter months. In the winter it is the focal point of winterlude and various skating exhibitions. In the summer it turns itself into a paddleboat, kayak and boat lounge!
You can rent paddleboats at the Pavillion and have some fun paddling around the lake, it is not to big so you wont tire yourself out that much :) In the summer i just enjoy heading to the lake and relaxing by watching various birds ( like doves and swans ) swim around. Check it out :)
At about a 15 minute drive from Ottawa is the Gatineau Park. Acres and acres of amazing woods nad lakes. They offer many sporting activities all year around. You better have a car if you want to visit a large part of the park.
Mud lake is a perfect alternative when you can not make it to Gatineau Park, which is on the Quebec side. Mud lake is similar to the lake in Gatineau Park, called "Pink Lake" Very similarly you can walk around the lake and observe the natural habitat of the many interesting creatures living around the lake. The area is controlled and regulated by the National Capital Parks Commission. This place is one of the most fascinating places for bird watchers and nature lovers. There are many different kinds of frogs, Birds, Beaver, Fox, Ground hogs, Raccoons, Fish and insects live around the lake.
No pets are allowed on the pathway. You can park for free on the side of the street besides the lake. You will need approximately 30, - 40 minutes to make the long walk around the lake. You can get here by turning to Britannia Rd. from Carling Avenue. Go all the way to the end and than turn right.
Be sure to bring your rollerblade, or a bike on your visit to Ottawa. The entire region has a collection of recreational paths, making for a minimum of 3 full days of riding.
For rollerbladers, many of the paths were freshly repaved this summer. For cyclists, the range expands, as does the number of sites within reach.
Any map of Ottawa will show the pathways. A brief overview is at http://www.ncc.gc.ca/explore/seasonal/recreation_e.html.
When the city becomes too much, and you want some nature that isn't so manicured and neat & tidy, you must cross over to Quebec and go into the Gatineau Park. You can just drive around through it, if that in itself gives you some peace. Park in one of the many parking areas and take a hike. Have lunch or tea at Kingsmere. In winter go crosscountry skiing. Be awestruck by nature's fashion show in the autumn(fall). At all times you'll forget that you are just minutes from the city, until you reach that point on the parkway with trees on either side of you, and that glimpse over the trees of the cityscape.
One of the things I love about Ottawa is all the green space. There are parks all over the place, and it is lovely to escape the busy streets to just escape and enjoy.
This picture was taken at I think it was called Andrew Hayden Park, by the Ottawa River.
(Remember, the Ottawa River is at the top of Ottawa (basically running East and West), and the Rideau River and Canal run North and South.
Rockcliffe Park is probably one of the largest urban parks in all of Canada. It is located directly east of downtown Ottawa. Just follow Sussex Drive eastbound, and you'll enter the park.
While I didn't get to spend a lot of time exploring the park, I did go to a few lookout points.
The park is located on the southern shore of the Ottawa River. There are various lookout points over the river to Québec, but there are also many paths and biking trails. The park is not a manicured kind of garden, but a forrested park along the cliffs that lead down to the water. It's very scenic, even if you just drive through.