OT­TAWA: THE CAP­I­TAL OF EX­CITE­MENT

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY LAURA BYRNE PAQUET

If you’ve never vis­ited Ot­tawa be­fore—and even if you have—this is the year to put Canada’s cap­i­tal on your “must see” cal­en­dar. Not only will the city be throw­ing a year-long party to cel­e­brate Canada’s 150th an­niver­sary, but it will also see the open­ing of a $110.5-mil­lion ex­pan­sion of the Na­tional Arts Cen­tre (NAC) and a new home for the Ot­tawa Art Gallery.

In ad­di­tion, Ot­tawa will host both the Juno Awards for mu­sic and the Cana­dian Foot­ball League’s Grey Cup cham­pi­onship. And, of course, you can still en­joy ac­tiv­i­ties rang­ing from the Chang­ing of the Guard cer­e­mony to skat­ing on the Rideau Canal. Here’s just a taste of what you can ex­pect in Canada’s sixth-largest city in 2017.

ARTIS­TIC FLAIR

Whether you’re a fan of theatre, mu­sic, dance, pho­tog­ra­phy or paint­ing, you’ll be able to en­joy your favourite cul­tural treats in stylish new sur­round­ings.

The NAC re­cently ren­o­vated its largest theatre, Southam Hall, but that’s just the begin­ning of the big news at the city’s flag­ship home of theatre, mu­sic and dance. On Canada Day (July 1), the NAC is set to un­veil a multi-storey glass atrium over­look­ing the Na­tional War Memo­rial, Con­fed­er­a­tion Square and Par­lia­ment Hill.

In fall, the Ot­tawa Art Gallery will move into a new five-storey build­ing of over 7,432 sq. m (80,000 sq. ft.), which in­cludes a screen­ing space that will be home to the Cana­dian Film In­sti­tute. The new gallery is cen­trally lo­cated be­tween the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa and the Rideau Cen­tre.

In sum­mer, the pri­vate School of the Pho­to­graphic Arts: Ot­tawa (SPAO) plans to move into stylish new quar­ters in Lit­tle Italy that will in­clude a pub­lic gallery fea­tur­ing stu­dents’ work.

Pho­tog­ra­phers vis­it­ing Ot­tawa can also draw in­spi­ra­tion from the Cana­dian Pho­tog­ra­phy In­sti­tute—one of the con­ti­nent’s largest pub­lic pho­tog­ra­phy in­sti­tutes—whose ded­i­cated ex­hi­bi­tion space opened within the Na­tional Gallery of Canada last Oc­to­ber. It fo­cuses on Cana­dian works cre­ated be­tween 1960 and 2000.

Speak­ing of the Na­tional Gallery, it is cur­rently trans­form­ing its Cana­dian Gal­leries and some of the Con­tem­po­rary Gal­leries, which will re­open mid-year as the Cana­dian and Indige­nous Gal­leries. The new space will present Na­tive Cana­dian and West­ern-style art to­gether, help­ing vis­i­tors un­der­stand Canada’s art his­tory from a new per­spec­tive.

WA­TER WORLD

Ot­tawa of­fers lots of chances to clam­ber aboard your choice of wa­ter­craft. Rideau Canal Cruises is set to launch its sec­ond elec­tric-pow­ered boat this year, pro­vid­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly tours of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Her­itage Site in the heart of the city. Vis­i­tors can also

en­joy the canal by house­boat, kayak or ca­noe—or cy­cle, walk or jog on paths along its banks. In win­ter, the groomed ice sur­face be­comes the world’s largest skat­ing rink.

In nearby Gatineau, the air­boat tours of­fered by Bayou-Ou­taouais give vis­i­tors the chance to spot a va­ri­ety of wildlife in­clud­ing great blue herons, painted tur­tles, ospreys, beavers and rare wa­ter plants.

Thrill-seek­ers can take a short road trip west of the city to test their met­tle against Class III to Class V white­wa­ter rapids on the Ot­tawa River. White­wa­ter raft­ing com­pa­nies, such as OWL Raft­ing near Foresters Falls, pro­vide trips to suit a wide range of ages and abil­i­ties—no pre­vi­ous pad­dling ex­pe­ri­ence re­quired!

HIP HO­TELS

Ot­tawa wel­comed two sleek new ho­tels in 2016. The An­daz Ot­tawa By­ward Mar­ket— the first Cana­dian lo­ca­tion for Hy­att’s An­daz brand—fea­tures a farm-to-ta­ble res­tau­rant, a sen­sa­tional rooftop bar and ter­race, and rooms with floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows. The Alt Ho­tel Ot­tawa in Cen­tre­town of­fers 148 rooms with Keurig cof­fee mak­ers, Ital­ian-de­signed arm­chairs and spa-style show­ers. In 2018, the Alt’s sis­ter prop­erty, Le Ger­main Ho­tel Ot­tawa, is slated to open as part of the new Ot­tawa Art Gallery com­plex.

FEEL­ING FES­TIVE

New Year’s Eve cel­e­bra­tions and Win­ter­lude kick off the Cap­i­tal’s busy fes­ti­val sched­ule, which later in the year fea­tures such events as the Cana­dian Tulip Fes­ti­val, the Ot­tawa Chil­dren’s Fes­ti­val, the Fes­ti­val franco-on­tarien Banque Na­tionale, the TD Ot­tawa Jazz Fes­ti­val, RBC Blues­fest, Ot­tawa Cham­ber­fest, the Casino Lac-Leamy Sound of Light, City Folk mu­sic fes­ti­val, the Ot­tawa In­ter­na­tional An­i­ma­tion Fes­ti­val, the Ot­tawa Wine and Food Fes­ti­val, and Christ­mas Lights Across Canada (www.ot­tawa­tourism.ca/en/vis­i­tors/what-to-do/fes­ti­val-and-events).

MU­SEUM NEWS

The Cana­dian Mu­seum of Na­ture will open the 743-sq.-m (8,000-sq.-ft.) Canada Goose Arc­tic Gallery on June 21. The new per­ma­nent gallery will al­low peo­ple to vir­tu­ally “visit” the hard-to-reach re­gion, which com­prises roughly 40 per­cent of Canada’s area. In­ter­ac­tive games, two aquaria, videos by north­ern­ers and arte­facts will il­lu­mi­nate four themes: cli­mate, ecosys­tems, sus­tain­abil­ity and ge­og­ra­phy.

Less than two weeks later, on July 1, the Cana­dian Mu­seum of His­tory will open the Cana­dian His­tory Hall, a 3,716-sq.-m (40,000-sq.-ft.) space which in­cludes three gal­leries, 1,500 arte­facts, 100 dig­i­tal pro­duc­tions and 75 maps. This per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tion will tell the story of Canada from the first hu­man habi­ta­tion to the present day. The mu­seum’s ma­jor tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tion for the year will be Hockey in Canada: More Than Just a Game (March 10 to Oc­to­ber 9).

At the Royal Cana­dian Mint, a per­ma­nent guided tour gives vis­i­tors a peek into how Cana­dian coins are made. Nearby, the By­town Mu­seum, which fo­cuses on the city’s his­tory, is cel­e­brat­ing its 100th an­niver­sary this year with a spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tion called By­town Mu­seum: A Cen­tury of Com­mu­nity (Fe­bru­ary 3, 2017 to Fe­bru­ary 18, 2018).

The Canada Avi­a­tion and Space Mu­seum is launch­ing a new in­ter­ac­tive au­dio guide, while the Canada Agri­cul­ture and Food Mu­seum has a spring ex­hi­bi­tion about farm­ers’ use of satel­lite data and a sum­mer show about canola.

The Cana­dian War Mu­seum’s ma­jor show is Vimy – Bat­tle, Memo­rial, Icon

(April 6, 2017, to Jan­uary 7, 2018). Not built by the mu­seum, but lo­cated nearby, the new Na­tional Holo­caust Mon­u­ment is sched­uled to be un­veiled late in the year. Also in late 2017, the Canada Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Mu­seum plans to re­open af­ter an $80.5-mil­lion ren­o­va­tion.

Ot­tawa’s quirki­est mu­seum may be the Diefen­bunker—once an un­used Cold War-era un­der­ground hide­out for politi­cians. Filled with 1960s fur­ni­ture and tech­nol­ogy, it of­fers in­trigu­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, such as Hal­loween zom­bie ad­ven­tures and a huge “es­cape room” where teams of up to 12 have an hour to foil some “spies” and work their way out of the fa­cil­ity.

FINE FOOD

Op­por­tu­ni­ties to dine well abound in Ot­tawa. Neigh­bour­hoods such as the By­ward Mar­ket, West Welling­ton,

West­boro, Lit­tle Italy and the Glebe are home to a wide range of restau­rants, while the num­ber of des­ti­na­tion bistros in ar­eas such as New Ed­in­burgh and Hin­ton­burg con­tin­ues to grow. In Chi­na­town, the Yangtze Din­ing Hall has been renowned for its dim sum for more than three decades. In Sandy Hill, Sig­na­tures—a Le Cor­don Bleu res­tau­rant housed in an el­e­gant Vic­to­rian man­sion—serves clas­sic French cui­sine pre­pared by chefs train­ing at the pres­ti­gious school.

BE A SPORT

In 2016, the Ot­tawa RED­BLACKS were the first Ot­tawa team in four decades to bring home the Cana­dian Foot­ball League’s Grey Cup, and this year the city will host the next cham­pi­onship. Sports fans can also cheer on the Na­tional Hockey League’s Ot­tawa Se­na­tors, the Ot­tawa Fury of the North Amer­i­can Soc­cer League, and sev­eral other sports teams.

Clearly, this year, Ot­tawa will have enough hap­pen­ing to amuse just about ev­ery vis­i­tor. To find out more, see the Ot­tawa Tourism web­site at www.ot­tawa­tourism.ca.

RIDEAU CANAL SKATEWAY • OT­TAWA TOURISM

BY­WARD MAR­KET • OT­TAWA TOURISM

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