Ottawa does not have the high-rise glamour and big city buzz of Toronto, the artistic, alternative vibe of Montreal, the cool factor and the views of Vancouver but it still has a lot to offer and is, in my view, mistakenly missed off many travellers’ itineraries.
In lots of ways Ottawa reminds me of the Living Rock; a city but not too big or too scary, a relatively compact centre easy to navigate, a blend of historic buildings and modern architecture, a burgeoning hipster scene, outdoor spaces and civic amenities, it is, like many of its inhabitants, administrative by day but fun by night.
Ottawa lies just on the Ontario side of the state border with Quebec, demarked here by the Ottawa River. On the other bank is the city of Gatineau, though the two operate much as one in many ways, with offices associated with the parliament and supporting departments and civil servants on both sides and a bridge joining the cities together.
It is in Gatineau where you will find the Canadian Museum of History which houses a great collection of First Nation art and is well worth a visit.
Other places to add to the agenda are the Rideau Canal, where you can boat in the summer and skate in the winter, Parliament Hill with its gothic revival buildings that bear an uncanny resemblance to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in London, the year-round Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne Park, housed during winter in the grand Victorian era Aberdeen Pavilion and Gatineau Park, a short car journey in to Quebec for hiking, cycling or skiing, season depending. There’s certainly enough to occupy a long weekend, if not longer and so, if you’re passing through Ontario, do consider making Ottawa part of your plans, we’re certainly glad we did.