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Sparks Street is one of the most interesting streets in Ottawa. It is Canada´s first pedestrian mall, so to speak. It is right down-town and stretches for several streets "cutting into" it - like Banks, O' Connor and Metcalfe. Traffic is not allowed here, so it is a blossoming street, with outside cafés and restaurants, dancing lessons etc.
There are 3 types of art-work in Sparks Street. One is Territorial Prerogative (Bruce Garner, 1980) - which is a statue of a life-size grizzly bear holding a salmon in his paw. It is a popular spot for taking photos and children in particular love playing here.
Another work of art is Joy (Bruce Garner, 1970) which is of a family playing and celebrating joy. They are naked and very skinny - but joyful. The artist wanted to liven up Sparks Street and he sure did.
The red thingy on my last photo I think is a sun-dial?
Wander along Sparks Street
In 1966, Sparks St, which is one block south of Wellington St (i.e. where the Parliament Buildings are) was closed to vehicle traffic and became North America's first pedestrian mall. There are shops along both sides of the street and in the summer, Ribs Fest is held there, as well as the Busker festival.
From late spring through to early fall, it can be a lively place, especially around the noon hour. It's pretty quiet during the late fall through early spring. Even during the week days during the summer, it can be a bit deserted. The Byward Market area is a lot livelier after hours with all of the bars and restaurants around.
The Bank of Canada and its currency museum are on Sparks St.
Some of the better souvenir shops can be found here too.
Sparks Street needs a major makeover
I visited Ottawa recently, having lived there for many years up until the late 80s. Sparks Street at one time was a pretty vibrant street with lots of people and lots of major shops. The best thing the city could do is cover it in a glass enclosure, like Fremont Street in Las Vegas, and make it a place people want to come to. But this would be visionary, and Ottawa these days appears to lack any kind of forward thinking direction.
Sparks Street is sort of Ottawa's equivalent of Toronto's Hazelton Lanes, except that it also has a few discount stores thrown in for good measure. Sparks Street is the only area near Parliament Hill where you will find a large number of restaurants, souvenir shops and clothing stores. It also contains Parliament Hill's Library and the offices of the Canadian Broadcasting Corportation (CBC). Sparks Street is a lovely pedestrian arcade during the spring and summer, but is a bit desolate during the winter when the potted plants can't survive out of doors. At the end of the shopping arcade, at the corner of Kent and Sparks, there is a high-end shopping mall of a kind in which you can find a Holt Renfew and an LCBO.
- Luxury Travel
- Arts and Culture
Take a leisurely stroll along Sparks Street..
Start at Elgin street and wander down Sparks Street. It's closed off to traffic and has been turned into a cozy little outdoor "mall". There are plenty of pubs and eateries along the way making this a popular hang out spot.
Worlds largest outdoor mall....
Sparks Street 'the largest outdoor shopping mall' is not open much in the harsh Ottawa winter. Really, it seems like it would have been better placed in a different country capital (where they have reliable weather). Really just like any other mall, with more than its share of souvenier stores.
- Women's Travel
Sparks Street is a pedestrian-only street located in the heart of downtown Ottawa, literally one block away from the Parliament Building. The street spans east-west and is home to a great assortment of restaurants, pubs, clothing stores, music shops, souvenir shops, and offices.
I spent a few afternoons strolling Sparks Street. I found that the restaurants and pubs would fence off a section of the street and would open up their patio there. These central-sidewalk pubs would be popular to the local office workers, likely federal employees, who were there to enjoy a lunchtime beer.
During the weekdays in May, Sparks street was kind of quiet, although it became more lively on sunny days and weekends.
I was in Ottawa during their annual tulip festival, and on some days they had sectioned off a part of Sparks Street for a petting zoo and a pony ride! And apparently during Canada Day, Sparks Street is blocked off for a street-wide party that lasts all night!
In any case, if you're wanting to visit a unique downtown street where you can grab a beer and do a bit of shopping, Sparks Street's the place.
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
Sparks Street Mall
Plenty of shops to browse through if you're a shopper. A few outdoor cafes (summer) or restaurants to choose from. If not, just a nice casual stroll down the most unique pedestrian street in Ottawa. In the summer, you may encounter a busker or two entertaining the crowd.
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