OTTAWA: IT’S POS­SI­BLE HERE

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY JOSEPHINE MATYAS

Once pegged as a “gov­ern­ment town,” Ottawa has bro­ken out of its shell and is gar­ner­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as a hap­pen­ing place. From out­door ac­tiv­i­ties to cul­tural experiences, from mu­se­ums to fes­ti­vals, Ottawa is show­ing the world that al­most any­thing is pos­si­ble.

WATER, WATER EV­ERY­WHERE

For visi­tors who like to get their feet wet, Ottawa de­liv­ers. Sit­ting on the south shore­line of the Ottawa River—renowned for its white­wa­ter raft­ing and kayak­ing— the city is also the north­ern point of the Rideau Canal, On­tario’s only UNESCO World Her­itage site.

The Rideau Canal, an his­toric water­way con­nect­ing Ottawa and Kingston via a series of 47 locks, is a wa­tery play­ground for pad­dlers and plea­sure boaters. Rideau Tours in El­gin of­fers a guided voyageur ca­noe ex­pe­ri­ence along the new Route Cham­plain. The brand new tourist route stretches 1,500 km (932 mi.) across the prov­ince of On­tario, trac­ing the jour­ney taken by the great ex­plorer Sa­muel de Cham­plain (www.rideau­tours.ca).

This year, be­tween May and Oc­to­ber, Le Boat makes its North Amer­i­can de­but on the wa­ters of the Rideau Canal. These lux­ury self-drive boats are based half­way along the canal in the town of Smiths Falls and of­fer op­tions of two, three or four cabins. Visi­tors will be able to ex­plore the length of the canal at their own pace, tak­ing time to ex­plore ru­ral On­tario towns, stop in at shops and mar­kets and drop an­chor for a swim along the way (www.leboat.ca).

Those crav­ing the thrill of white­wa­ter can sign on for one of OWL Raft­ing’s sin­gle-day or multi-day ex­pe­di­tions along the Ottawa River. Early in the sea­son when the river is swollen by melt­wa­ters is peak time for sport and ad­ven­ture out­ings, while sum­mer­time is per­fect for the gen­tle in­tro­duc­tion of a fam­ily float. The OWL Raft­ing base at Foresters Falls of­fers camp­ing, rus­tic cabins and new up­scale cabañas (www.owl­raft­ing.com).

For the first time in more than a cen­tury, Chaudière Falls, a set of water­falls lo­cated on the Ottawa River just north of the Cana­dian War Mu­seum, opened to the pub­lic as part of Ottawa 2017’s trib­ute to lo­cal Indige­nous peo­ple. A new view­ing plat­form of­fers an un­ob­structed view of the dra­matic falls and is a way to cel­e­brate the nat­u­ral beauty of the water­way. Plans are to open the site again this spring, mak­ing it ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic and con­nected to recre­ational bike paths.

REST AND RE­FUEL

Ottawa’s “cas­tle,” the Fair­mont Château Lau­rier, has just com­pleted a multi-mil­lion dol­lar ren­o­va­tion of the lux­ury level Fair­mont Gold, in­clud­ing an ex­pan­sion to 69 rooms and suites, all com­pletely up­dated with con­tem­po­rary touches and tech­nol­ogy. The ho­tel’s sig­na­ture Zoé’s Lounge—known for Af­ter­noon Tea—has been reimag­ined and re­vi­tal­ized with a clas­si­cally el­e­gant new look (www.fair­mont.com).

Early in the year, the up­scale Le Ger­main Ho­tel Ottawa opened in a mixed-use com­plex com­bin­ing con­do­mini­ums, a theatre and the com­pletely re­done Ottawa Art Gallery, in the heart of down­town and just min­utes away from at­trac­tions like the Par­lia­ment Build­ings and the ByWard Mar­ket. The lux­ury prop­erty boasts bold, art­ful de­signs in the rooms. A Lexus cour­tesy car can be ar­ranged for guest use (www.leg­ermain­ho­tels.com).

A CITY OF MU­SE­UMS AND THE ARTS

The Canada Science and Tech­nol­ogy Mu­seum re­cently re­opened its doors after $80.5 mil­lion of build­ing re­pairs and up­grades. In the newly-up­graded space, through sto­ries, arte­facts and in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits, visi­tors can dis­cover and ex­pe­ri­ence Canada’s his­tory of science, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion (www.in­ge­ni­um­canada.org).

Just west of Ottawa, the Diefen­bunker— Canada’s Cold War Mu­seum—is a four-storey un­der­ground bunker, built be­tween 1959 and 1961 to house Cana­dian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials

and mil­i­tary of­fi­cers in the event of a nu­clear war. The na­tional his­toric site pre­serves the his­tory of the Cold War era, one of the most crit­i­cal times in world his­tory (www. diefen­bunker.ca).

In mid-2017, to cel­e­brate Canada’s 150th an­niver­sary, the Cana­dian Mu­seum of

Na­ture opened its new per­ma­nent Canada Goose Arc­tic Gallery, a new way to look at one of the harsh­est en­vi­ron­ments in the world. Learn about Arc­tic ge­og­ra­phy, ecosys­tems and sus­tain­abil­ity, as well as the im­pact of climate change through arte­facts, first-hand per­spec­tives and learn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. The new space also presents tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tions in the North­ern Voices Gallery, pro­vid­ing an op­por­tu­nity for North­ern com­mu­ni­ties to share their own per­spec­tives about the

Arc­tic and their re­la­tion­ship with the land (www.na­ture.ca/en/home).

Last sum­mer, the Na­tional Gallery of Canada, one of the coun­try’s finest art mu­se­ums, un­veiled its new Cana­dian and Indige­nous Gal­leries. Through art, these gal­leries con­vey the re­mark­able sto­ries that have shaped the na­tion. The Indige­nous Art col­lec­tion—First Na­tions, Métis and Inuit art­works—show­case works by some of the best-known Abo­rig­i­nal artists in Canada (www.gallery.ca).

The Na­tional Arts Cen­tre is the plat­form for Canada’s best mu­sic, dance and theatre. Now in the midst of a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion, the NAC is adding im­proved per­for­mance spa­ces, pub­lic ar­eas for ed­u­ca­tion and events, full ac­ces­si­bil­ity for peo­ple with mo­bil­ity chal­lenges and a mag­nif­i­cent glass atrium en­trance on El­gin Street (www.nac-can.ca).

The Cana­dian His­tory Hall was un­veiled on Canada Day 2017 in the Cana­dian Mu­seum of His­tory. This new sig­na­ture ex­hibit presents the his­tory of Canada and its peo­ple from the dawn of hu­man habi­ta­tion to the present day, cov­er­ing a span of ap­prox­i­mately 15,000 years. The col­lec­tion is the largest ex­hi­bi­tion of Cana­dian his­tory ever de­vel­oped and in­cludes au­then­tic arte­facts, na­tional his­tor­i­cal trea­sures and com­pelling sto­ries that bring to life the events, per­son­al­i­ties and his­tor­i­cal cur­rents that have shaped the na­tion (www.his­to­ry­mu­seum.ca).

The strik­ing ar­chi­tec­ture of the Cana­dian War Mu­seum is de­signed to emerge out of the river­side land­scape, stress­ing the theme of re­gen­er­a­tion; how the land can be rav­aged by war but is still able to ac­com­mo­date the dev­as­ta­tion

wrought by hu­man con­flict. The enor­mous build­ing pre­serves half a mil­lion his­tor­i­cal arte­facts as well as in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays that de­tail Canada’s his­tory of armed con­flict (www.war­mu­seum.ca).

The new Na­tional Holo­caust Mon­u­ment, ti­tled Land­scape of Loss, Me­mory and Sur­vival, serves to hon­our the vic­tims and sur­vivors of the Holo­caust and the im­por­tant lessons it so painfully taught. There is a walk­through por­tion of the mon­u­ment that in­cludes a large gath­er­ing space, 13 plaques, six mu­rals, a small room for quiet re­flec­tion and a ter­race with views of Canada’s Cap­i­tal Re­gion (www.ncc-ccn.gc.ca).

The Bank of Canada Mu­seum (for­merly the Cur­rency Mu­seum) re­cently opened in a com­pletely ren­o­vated new build­ing. En­ter­tain­ing, hands-on and in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits use high-tech and in­for­ma­tive videos, mul­ti­me­dia sta­tions and old-school dis­plays to help bring the econ­omy front and cen­tre in a way that visi­tors can see it, touch it, walk through it and ex­pe­ri­ence it as never be­fore (www.bankof­canada mu­seum.ca).

Be­gin­ning in fall, the Par­lia­ment of Canada’s Cen­tre Block will be closed to tours in prepa­ra­tion for a decade-long re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. Guided tours of Par­lia­ment will be of­fered at two new sites: The West Block—the in­terim home of the House of Com­mons, and the Gov­ern­ment

Con­fer­ence Cen­tre—the in­terim home of the Sen­ate. Visi­tors will still be able to take a tour of the East Block (visit.parl.ca).

FES­TI­VAL FUN

Each win­ter, Ottawa cel­e­brates Win­ter­lude, a unique fes­ti­val fea­tur­ing snow and ice sculp­ture com­pe­ti­tions, snow play­grounds, sport­ing events and skat­ing on the world’s largest nat­u­rally frozen ice skat­ing rink, the Rideau Canal (www.canada.pch.gc.ca).

Spring­time is ush­ered in with the an­nual Cana­dian Tulip Fes­ti­val, where gar­dens are splashed with the colour of more than a mil­lion tulips in bloom (www. tulipfes­ti­val.ca ).

June 21 to 24 marks the 25th an­niver­sary of the Ottawa Dragon Boat Fes­ti­val. Rec­og­nized as North Amer­ica’s largest dragon boat fes­ti­val, the four-day cel­e­bra­tion of­fers world-class en­ter­tain­ment and concerts, amuse­ment at­trac­tions, sports demon­stra­tions, ar­ti­sans, ex­hibitors and culi­nary treats, a beach-side bar, chil­dren’s area and non-stop rac­ing (www.drag­onboat.net).

For more in­for­ma­tion, look on-line at www.ot­tawa­tourism.ca .

PAR­LIA­MENT HILL • SHUT­TER­STOCK/GUOQIANG XUE

150TH AN­NIVER­SARY CEL­E­BRA­TIONS, IN­SPI­RA­TION VIL­LAGE • OTTAWA 2017

CANA­DIAN MU­SEUM OF HIS­TORY • SHUT­TER­STOCK/JOR­DAN AD­KINS

OUT­DOOR CAFÉ • ON TOURISM

RIDEAU CANAL SKATEWAY • SHUT­TER­STOCK/VLAD G

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