From fields and fresh­wa­ter to the wild play­grounds of the re­gion

Where Ottawa - - CONTENTS - BY Chris LACKNER and Matt har­ri­son

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.

Das Boot!

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.

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