The GREAT OUTDOORS
From fields and freshwater to the wild playgrounds of the region
With a backyard like this, it's easy to see why locals and visitors all love the great outdoors. There is something for everyone, from the farm to the foothills.
The Central Experimental Farm
All major cities have a central park, but only ours doubles as a farm. Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm contains four-square-kilometres of fields, forests, gardens, and historic buildings, and is augmented by the adjoining Arboretum and the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. It acts as a nexus of visitors and locals — a place where pathways and trails act as appendages, not only connecting different parts of the city together but offering escape routes from the hustle and bustle.
Catch that whiff of manure?
It’s from the beating heart of this organism: a working farm — part of the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum — where horses, sheep, pigs, and other livestock are enjoyed by a regular flow of city-dwellers seeking reconnection with nature. Unique attractions include playful exhibits (“Get the Scoop on Poop”), a working kitchen that regularly doles out honey-based treats, a farm-themed indoor play area for tots, and the surrounding Ornamental Gardens.
Lost in the Wilds
In ’87, an idea took hold to create a wildlife garden in the Farm, which was opened in 1990 and named after James Fletcher, the botanist who helped create the Arboretum in 1889. Today, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden is tended by the Ottawa Field-Naturalist Club. Volunteers toil away to ensure that invasive species are kept at bay, while endangered monarch butterflies are given a helping hand. You might spy tree art created by unknown forest fairies, quiet resting spots, and even a shelf-like structure containing assorted nooks and crannies — an insect hotel encouraging native pollinators to put down roots, make larvae, and keep the garden growing. Trails crisscross the garden’s 16 acres, encouraging a sense of wonder and exploration.
At the entrance to the Garden there is, amidst overgrown ruins, a rock containing a plaque that indicates this spot was once a high frequency Naval Radio Station. During the Second World War, this station allowed the Royal Canadian Navy to track wireless transmissions from enemy U-boats.