I came to Ottawa for school, figuring I’d do the few years here necessary to grab my degree and then be on my way. That was 26 years ago. Sometimes a city just fits like a comfortable glove. It depends on that elusive compatibility between the city’s personality and yours. Ottawa and I turned out to be a pretty good fit, I guess. I liked the size – small enough to get around quickly but big enough to still offer good restaurants and entertainment. Being the capital it’s filled with all the benefits that brings, like parks, museums, events and green spaces but one of the great things is that when you do want to get away, you can do it fast.
Despite my fondness for the city, I soon realized when setting out to do the Tour Guide weekly challenge for The Daily Post how little of Ottawa I’ve actually ever photographed, most local photos consisting of kids’ meets and sports team games, sprinkled with random shots of house damage needing repair or of potholes to angrily fire off in vain to city officials, so it was challenge on to come up with some stuff more appropriate for a guided tour.
The signature site of Ottawa is, of course, the Parliament Buildings and a number of locations around the city offer good views of this gothic revival architecture, but one of the best is from across the Ottawa River on the Voyageurs Pathway. The river is frozen over and covered in snow now, making it a great white blanket below Parliament Hill.
On the far left is the old Canadian Mint, then the elegant Chateau Laurier hotel before the gap where the Rideau Canal descends through the Ottawa Locks to the Ottawa River.
On this side of the river, in what is Gatineau, Quebec, sits the Canadian Museum of History, a fascinating building of curving lines and warm stone designed by the famous aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal.
At this time of year, the Rideau Canal becomes the world’s largest skating rink, stretching 7.8 kilometres from downtown to Dows Lake. This view catches a night skater weaving his way away from the Chateau Laurier in the far distance.
The Rideau Canal was constructed as part of the creation of a strategic, navigable waterway from Kingston to the Ottawa River. The Rideau River, which is bypassed in part by the canal, flows under a set of pretty, white iron bridges before plunging into the Ottawa River.
Part of the great appeal of Ottawa is that in less than 20 minutes from downtown, you can be hiking, mountain biking, downhill skiing or cross country skiing in beautiful, natural surroundings.
As one of the coldest capitals in the world that also gets whacked with a lot of snow, well, you just gotta embrace winter.
But just to prove that the warmth and greenery of Summer does eventually come, I leave you with this shot of an artist enjoying an idyllic afternoon in Strathcona Park.