HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA!!
I apologise if you happen to be reading this in August. 132 years ago, the Fathers of Confederation’s dream of a
new nation came to life…now we party!
Ottawa is the site of the nation’s most surprisingly active Canada Days…surprising because public servants and
NORTEL employees don’t exactly have reputations for partying-down.
A day of drunken revelry ends (or begins) with the fireworks on Parliament Hill at sundown. You’re have to
park SUPER early if yourÂ’e driving Â– better to take one of the special free buses run by OC Transpo.
Despite the drunken partygoers clogging all of downtown, itÂ’s still a good event for families. Watch for my friend
RichardÂ’s Gold VW Superbeetle zipping around with sparklers flying out the sunroof. Tell him I say hallo…itll freak him out! (Awww…I miss my friends already…)
Oh yah, there are activities during the day too. Details are here.
A slightly less mainstream party is the Pride Festival which runs from July 9-18th. OttawaÂ’s gay community is not as active as, say, TorontoÂ’s, but rainbow flags dominate a section of Bank Street north of Somerset. ThereÂ’s a
parade on July 10th. Last year, a wobbly pink line (Â‘cause it canÂ’t be straight) was painted along the parade route.
There are still faint traces today. Hee.
Bluesfest rules, though I havenÂ’t had time to check dates/artists out. Well, okay, it runs from July 8-10th.
THE EX (August 19-2), where tackiness abounds. Our version of TorontoÂ’s CNE is a typical carnival, but often the
free concerts make it worth smelling all the friend dough and poutine (see JuneÂ’s write-up). Events are at
Lansdowne Park in the Glebe. Parking is disastrously expensive Â– some Glebe residents charge $10 to let you
park on their lawns. Best to use public transit (the 1, 7 or 11 should get you there from downtown) or take the scenic route along the canal from the ChÃ¢teau Laurier (a 30-45 minute walk).
Jazz Â’99 runs from July 16-25 and WYNTON MARSALIS IS GOING TO BE THERE. So go, now.
Ottawa Folk Festival is run by the Ã¼berkÃ¼hl CKCU-FM 93.1 (Carleton UniversityÂ’s radio station and the oldest
non-commercial independent radio station in Canada). ItÂ’s cool, yes.
Zaphod II is now open on Bank Street…already been dubbed Â“GayphodÂ’sÂ” because itÂ’s location used to be a gay
club.Good clubs (though IÂ’m really not a clubber) include Atomic (on Besserer),
ZaphodÂ’s (in the Market), the Cave (Sparks at Bank), and BarrymoreÂ’s (no longer run by the icky man!)
Avoid RJÂ’s Boom-Boom Saloon (the name says it all really) unless youÂ’re an underage alcoholic or a fan of REALLY bad
Good pubs include the Royal Oak (Bank and Gilmour, the Glebe, Kanata, Orleans, and my second home on
Laurier…fab on Canada Day), PattyÂ’s Pub on Bank in Ottawa South, the Celtic Cross (near Bank and Somerset),
and the Dunvegan (Laurier in Sandy Hill).
Any visitor will tell you Ottawa shuts down early…Â’tis true. ThereÂ’s a serious lack of 24-hours places. Of those that do exist, the Elgin Street (on Elgin, duh) Diner is quite expensive, as is the CÃ©line-owned Nickels (on Dalhousie). Bagel-Bagel in the market has reliable coffee, but their foodÂ’s gone downhill lately.
DennyÂ’s and Perkins in outer suburbia and the Waffle House has the misfortune of being in Vanier (about the closest thing to a seedy area that the region has). But hit the Waffle House if you can, the #2 goes there and runs late. The waffles are outstanding and the staff are really nice.
Hull has a casino. ItÂ’s allegedly the largest tourist attraction in the region (hallo? Parliament Hill???). I
havenÂ’t been yet, but their fireworks series last year was cool.
Check this out for details.
For museum listings check out the Ottawa X-Press…itÂ’s free free freeeeee!
The obliteration of the roads around Confederation Square This is right in the centre of the action near the ChÃ¢teau
Laurier, NAC, and Parliament. It’s murderous driving around here, so bus if you can.
I must apologise that this write-up is not so detailed as IÂ’m out of the country for the summer. It was also written about 20 seconds before I left for the airport. My suggestions for a walk is to go to Sparks Street…the
buskers get cooler and cooler. I saw a Tom Jones impersonator there on the day of this writing. Excellent.
Okay, so Ottawa-Hull is probably not the most action-paced place in the world. Most visitors say things like “It’s pretty”, “It’s clean” or “It’s pretty clean.”
Its biggest distinction, apart from being the capital of Canada,
is that it’s home to the world’s longest skating rink, the Rideau
Canal, which was originally built for some long-forgotten defence
scheme in the nineteenth century.
Ottawa’s full of beautiful gothic-style government buildings
and some butt-ugly modern ones (the Provincial Courthouse and
the Regional Headquarters are the best examples of hideousness.)
Despite its reputation as a boring town full of even more boring
civil servants, there really is a lot to do here and in the surrounding
area, particularly in the winter (Winterlude), late spring (the
Tulip Festival), and in the festival season in the summertime
(not a patch on Edinburgh, I’ll bet.)
Contrary to popular belief, tobogganing isn’t a spring activity here.
It’s blinking hot in summer (up to 38 degrees Celsius), so the snow
tends to melt (ha!).
There’s tons of stuff to do in summer…we even have beaches on the
Ottawa River. Westboro and Britannia are both on the Ottawa River bike
paths. The river is not great and is often cold well into summer…and
the beaches are closed for two days after rainstorms so people won’t be
swimming in dog muck that had washed into the water from the bike
If you want somewhere clean to swim, there are tons of wading pools for
the young’uns all over town. Go here
on recreation in the city.
A favourite spot for biking to (and only 20 minutes or so from my
house…I’m so lazy) is Champlain Island off the Champlain Bridge. The
bridge crosses the Ottawa River at Island Park Drive (it’s
well-marked). The island itself is quiet and shady and gives FANTASTIC
views of the city. It’s also a mini-Mecca for kayakers…an activity I
hope to take up one of these days.
Taxis are insanely expensive and drivers (especially for Blue Line) have
dubious reputations. Consider yourself warned.
For travel information, always check out OC Transpo. Our bus service is pretty nifty…you can
even call an automated system to see when your bus will show up!
Here’s a sad, but mildly amusing spring activity. Head to Parliament
Hill and start a game of Frisbee. It’s amazing how many tourists will
take your picture.
Or, go to the visitors gallery at the House of Commons and see
how immature parliamentary debates really are.
A Little About Megan
Megan leaves on her first big adventure abroad on June 18 with her brown Doc Martens in tow. She’s blowing all the money she’s earned as a government slave to go study Archaeology, Film, and History in Edinburgh. She also might venture to Bergen for a few days…advice on cheap flights from Scotland is welcomed! She is disturbed by writing about herself in the third person.
Here’s her website.