Ottawa for a Weekend in the Winter

Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: January 2023

Ottawa is the capital of Canada and is situated in eastern Ontario along the Ottawa River. It is home to Parliament Hill and contains many historic sites, landmarks and national museums. This vibrant city also offers year-round opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, including skating on the Rideau Canal in the winter and hiking one of many trails in or around the city.

For the past couple of years we’ve been going to the cabin to ring in the New Year. This worked out well during the pandemic when we were in lockdown with some form of public health restrictions. It was the perfect place to social distance and spend time in nature. Since there is no electricity or cell reception, visiting the cabin always gives us a chance to disconnect, reflect and contemplate about life. And so to close out 2022, we couldn’t think of a better place to visit than the cabin.

Except that didn’t happen. Over the holidays a winter storm hit much of North America, which resulted in high winds, lots of snow and record cold temperatures across many areas. Some places got it worse than others and the cabin was one of those places. To make things more complicated, a few days after the storm temperatures soared and we got a bunch of rain.

We were packed and ready to spend the long weekend at the cabin though. We arrived at the road leading into the cabin in the evening just as the daylight was starting to fade. Typically we park our car at the top of the road and walk in with all our gear since the road isn’t maintained. Given that there was still a substantial amount of snow, driving in wasn’t even an option. But there wasn’t anywhere for us to park as our usual spot was underwater from all the rain and melting snow. Given that the ground here can get muddy, we didn’t want to risk getting stuck.

We spent the next several minutes strategizing to see if we could park somewhere else when we realized that we forgot to bring our snowshoes. Without them it would be pretty miserable to hike in since the snow was deep and crusty. And it usually takes us at least two trips to bring our supplies in. We were feeling pretty defeated. We didn’t want to drive back home as that would have been a pretty lame start to the year. Plus we already drove a few hours to get here. So instead we decided to drive another couple of hours further to visit Ottawa.

Day 1: Art and War

While I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that we didn’t stay up to watch the clock strike midnight on New Year’s eve, it was raining outside and apparently Ottawa doesn’t really do a big firework celebration around Parliament Hill. Whatever. This way we were able to get up early and feel well rested. And what better way to kick-off the New Year than by going for an early morning hike. We drove to Mer Bleue Conservation Area, located just outside the city as part of the capital’s Greenbelt.

Mer Bleue offers more than 20 kilometres of trails through a northern boreal landscape, which includes a peat bog, marshes and ancient sand ridges. We started nice and easy with the Dewberry Trail (1km loop, rated easy), which passes through both a young forest and an old growth forest. Despite the warmer temperatures the past few days, there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground, but the trail was in pretty good condition and wasn’t overly slushy. A tree had fallen over part of the trail near a boardwalk section through a swampy area that required some strategic maneuvering around though, but we managed and enjoyed the challenge.

We then hiked the Mer Bleue Bog Trail (1.2km loop, rated easy), which follows a boardwalk through a large acidic peat bog. There are a series of interpretative panels along the way that provide more information about the landscape. From the parking lot, the trail passes through a picnic area before leading to the bog and boardwalk.

Thousands of years ago, Canada was buried under a thick layer of ice. As the glaciers melted, the land was covered with water and debris like clay, sand and gravel. As a result of the cool, humid climate, water-filled hollows like the area around Mer Bleue, slowly turned into peatlands.

The parking lot was becoming busy, so this was our sign to leave. We drove into Ottawa to check out some of the national museums, which were mostly open on New Year’s day. We started with the Canadian War Museum which highlights the country’s military history and involvement in several major wars, including the wars of the First Peoples, the first and second World Wars and the Cold War. The museum also contains a large collection of military vehicles, equipment and weapons. There was also a special exhibit on Sir Alfred Munnings’ commissioned paintings, including landscapes and portraits, many of which featured horses.

We then went to the National Gallery of Canada which showcases one of the finest collections of Canadian art in the world. As part of the collection, there’s a large number of paintings by the Group of Seven and other famous Canadian artists like Tom Thomson and Emily Carr. The art museum also contains a European, American and Asian collection by non-Canadians artists.

With our car parked at the National Gallery of Canada, we decided to take a stroll through downtown Ottawa and admire the snowy scenery. It was drab and dreary outside, but at least the temperature was mild. We passed the Rideau Canal, a historic waterway that connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River in Kingston. In the winter the city maintains a skateway on the canal that is 7.8 kilometres in length. When completely frozen, it forms the largest skating rink in the world. Except there wasn’t much ice on the canal when we visited so there was no skating to be had. Instead we admired the views of the canal and Parliament Hill in the background.

We returned to where we parked and made one last stop for the day at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. The museum operates as a working farm and contains a series of barns and buildings that house different types of farm animals, including cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, llamas and rabbits. The museum is designed for people to meet farm animals and learn more about where their food comes from. There were a series of panels that explained more about each of the different types of animals, their anatomy and what they eat, but we were too distracted by all the cute animals to read them carefully. Plus we only had one hour before closing, so we didn’t have much time.

Day 2: Parliament Hill

A trip to Ottawa wouldn’t be complete without visiting Parliament Hill. The government offers free tours of the House of Commons and the Senate, but you have to reserve tickets in advance. Since this was a last minute trip during a long weekend, all the English tours were fully booked for the day. But here in Canada we have two official languages. While all the English tickets were sold out, there was still plenty of availability for the French tours. And this way we got to see how much we remembered from our French classes in high school.

We signed up for the first French tour of the day of the House of Commons. Our tour started in the new Visitor Centre, located between West Block and Centre Block on Parliament Hill. We went through a brief security screening and waited in the lobby for a few minutes for our 40-minute guided tour of the history, functions and architecture of the House of Commons to begin.

It turns out we don’t remember much French from school, but thankfully the internet can help fill in the blanks. Canada’s parliamentary system is based on the one in the United Kingdom, which is also called the Westminster system. The House of Commons refers to the Lower House of Canada’s Parliament, which plays an important part in introducing, debating and passing bills. It brings together elected representatives from across the county to debate important issues and make decisions.

As part of our tour we got to see the actual room where the House Commons meet. Similar to the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, the room is decorated in a lot of green.

We also got to visit one of the committee rooms. The House of Commons typically delegates some of its work to smaller committees, which are composed of select members of Parliament. These committees meet in designated rooms like the one we visited that are located through the parliamentary buildings. The rooms are fitted with equipment to record, broadcast and interpret the proceedings.

Once our tour finished, we made our way to the Senate of Canada Building, located a block away from Parliament Hill. We booked a 30-minute guided tour of the Senate, which was also in French. Starting in the lobby, we first learned a bit more about the history of the building, which initially served as Ottawa’s central train station for about fifty years before it was decommissioned in 1966. The building was converted into a visitors centre for Canada’s centennial celebrations and then used to host high-level government meetings before being repurposed to now temporarily house the Senate while Parliament’s Centre Block is undergoing a major renovation.

Our guide took us to the temporary Senate Chamber, also known as the Red Chamber, where the senators meet. The Senate refers to the Upper House, which plays an important role in debating legislation and other important issues. A bill must pass the Senate before it can become law. Senators are appointed by the Governor General and hold their seats until they turn 75. They are meant to give the regions of Canada an equal voice in Parliament. We also got to visit a committee room for the Senate, which had a similar setup to the one we visited as part of our tour of the House of Commons.

Once we wrapped up our tour, we checked out the Women are Persons! monument outside of the Senate building. It was built as a tribute to five women who brought a case before the highest court to appeal a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1928 that ruled that women could not be appointed to the Senate because they are not “qualified persons”. Thankfully the decision was reversed. The monument shows the five women celebrating their victory.

We had planned to visit the Canadian Museum of Nature. Except when we got there, it was completely packed. All the parking lots adjacent to the museum were full. Plus it looked like there was a long line to get in. We didn’t really feel like fighting the crowds, so instead we decided to go for a hike just outside of the city on the drive back home.

We landed on Foley Mountain Conservation Area, which offers 10km of hiking trails. We started with the Spy Rock Scenic Lookout, which is located along the Blue Circle Trail. We didn’t hike the entire trail. From the parking lot, it’s a short stroll along the granite ridge to a viewpoint overlooking the Upper Rideau waterway and the town of Westport.

We walked back to the parking lot and crossed the road to reach the trailhead for the Beaver Trail (1.2km loop). There was significantly less snow here compared to Ottawa, but there were still some snowy and icy patches along the trail. The trail follows the shore of a beaver pond before weaving deeper through the forest. It was easy enough to navigate as the path was signed with a series of yellow numbered triangles on the trees. The trail comes out to the road a few hundred metres from the parking lot. We followed part of the Blue Circle Trail, which passes the Spy Rock Scenic Lookout, to get back to where we parked as we figured that would be more scenic than just walking along the road.

The road that cuts through the conservation area leads to the shore of Upper Rideau Lake, except it was closed off for the winter just after the picnic area. We parked near the gate and hiked the White Pine Trail (1.2km loop), which meanders through the forest. There were a few icy and muddy patches, but overall conditions were pretty decent. The path intersects with a few other trails, but there were maps at the junctions to assist with navigation. The White Pine Trail connects with the Red Oak Trail (1.3km loop), which we followed for a short stretch to return to where we parked.

While this wasn’t the weekend we initially planned, we’re glad we were able to start the New Year in style by visiting Ottawa. We even squeezed in some hiking as well, which is always a win. And I guess this means that we’ll just have to make another attempt to visit the cabin later this winter.


122 thoughts on “Ottawa for a Weekend in the Winter

  1. Ab says:

    While it was just a bit over a month ago, I totally forgot about the storm! It gave T and kids a one day start to the break and our get together with family plans got cancelled.

    I think your pivot to Ottawa ended up being quite the unexpected treat! I love that you got a great mix of nature, city attractions and history. The Rideau Canal would be nice to skate through one day!

    We used to spend every other Christmas in Ottawa when the hubby’s sister lived there. I remember it being blistering cold and we often just stayed inside. You and K packed a lot in on your short weekend trip!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      That winter storm over the holidays was pretty fierce. While we didn’t get an insane amount of snow (like on Wednesday!), it was crazy windy outside, which made driving to our family gatherings a bit treacherous. The area around the cabin on the other hand must have gotten a huge snowfall. I think we made the right decision to go to Ottawa as it would not have been fun to trudge through the wet and crusty snow to get to the cabin, especially without our snowshoes. And we’d probably be pretty miserable from being confined indoors for the entire weekend.

      We’ve skated on the Rideau Canal before a few years ago. We went during the Family Day long weekend towards the end of Winterlude, so the city was pretty busy with all these winter activities and had all these beautifully carved ice and snow sculptures in the downtown. It was a great way to celebrate winter. But yes, it can get insanely cold!! I’m glad we had mild temperatures when we were there for the New Year, which made walking around much more enjoyable.

      • Ab says:

        Driving through the stormy conditions can be unpredictable and scary. You two made the right call indeed.

        A Family Day outing in the Rideau Canal sounds lovely. I’ll put that in my plans for maybe next year. 😃

        Enjoy your week ahead!

      • Ab says:

        Just got on my morning bus. It is pretty cold. -11. Gonna be even colder tomorrow! -22. And -24 on Saturday. 😆

  2. Lyssy In The City says:

    That is such a bummer you couldn’t spend your NYE as anticipated, but I’m so glad you guys got to explore Ottawa. I feel like it would’ve been easy to be defeated and go home and be grumpy about it.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s too bad that we weren’t able to visit the cabin as it’s become a fun tradition for us to ring in the New Year there. Plus we haven’t been in a couple of months. I’m glad we were able to come up with a back-up plan though rather than just driving back home. There’s a lot to see and explore in and around the Ottawa area. Plus most of their national museums were open on New Year’s, which was a bonus.

  3. Darlene says:

    What a fabulous way to start the new year. I am ashamed to say, I have not been to our nation’s capital. I would love to see the National Gallery of Canada. I’m a huge fan of Emily Carr. I loved all your photos. Thanks.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. While it wasn’t the trip we initially planned, visiting Ottawa ended up being a great back-up option to ring in the New Year. It’s funny because we seem to only ever visit Ottawa in the winter, but thankfully this time it wasn’t insanely cold outside. The National Gallery of Canada is my favourite out of the national museums in the city. There’s a large collection of paintings from Canadian artists, which is the real highlight of the museum.

  4. kagould17 says:

    Good call on not trying to struggle through the snow to get to the cabin Linda. Ottawa is a very enjoyable place to visit. Not so sure about a winter visit, but you found lots to see and do. As to staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, we have not done it for years. Sleep is tough enough to come by without shifting our routines. Thanks for sharing. Happy Friday. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      If we had brought our snowshoes it probably wouldn’t have been so bad to walk in, but we weren’t sure where to park. It seemed like this was a pretty big sign from the universe for us to move on. Ottawa ended up being a great back-up option and thankfully most of their museums were open on New Year’s. I’m glad we managed to squeeze in some hiking as well. Glad to hear we’re not the only ones who don’t always manage to wait for the clock to strike midnight on New Year’s Eve! Thanks for reading. Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Linda

  5. Book Club Mom says:

    Well even though it wasn’t the trip you planned, I’d say you made a great trip out of it. I was really struck by that painting of the windblown tree at the water’s edge. I think I could stare at that for a long time. Happy New Year!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Visiting Ottawa was a great alternative and only added a couple more hours to the drive. It sure beat coming back home and doing nothing for New Year’s! The National Gallery of Canada was my favourite museum that we visited. They have an extensive collection of paintings from Canadian artists that showcase the beautiful landscape in the country. The wind swept pines like the one in the painting are commonly found along the shores of Georgian Bay.

  6. Little Miss Traveller says:

    Such a nuisance that you couldn’t reach the cabin as planned but visiting Ottawa would have been an unexpected surprise. I learned French at school but can’t remember much now! Hopefully I’ll get back to Canada in the next year or two.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. I’m glad we didn’t make an attempt to walk through the slushy deep snow as that would have been miserable. We also would have been confined indoors at the cabin for the entire weekend. It was definitely worth it to drive a couple more hours to visit Ottawa instead!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The buildings on Parliament Hill are beautiful. It was neat to go inside a couple of them as part of our tour of the House of Commons and the Senate, even if our tours were in French and we didn’t understand much! I’m glad we managed to squeeze in a couple of hikes as well, which seemed like a fitting way to start the New Year.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! Visiting Ottawa in the winter can be hit or miss depending on the weather as it tends to get very cold and snowy there. The plus side is that the city has embraced it and there are plenty of activities inside and outdoors. It was a lovely weekend getaway and a great way to ring in the New Year.

  7. leightontravels says:

    Well, you managed to make the best of an unfortunate situation and save the day. Have you tried to get back to the cabin since? Ottawa looks like an interesting city to explore, especially the National Gallery of Canada and Mer Bleue Bog Trail. We are also not particularly bothered by New Year’s Eve celebrations, though we did at least stay up until midnight this year. Which was a good call, since our neighbours were heavily armed with rockets and firecrackers and other pyrotechnic delights/horrors.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s too bad that we weren’t able to go to the cabin to ring in the New Year, but I’m glad we decided to drive a couple hours more to visit Ottawa. Thankfully many of their museums were open on New Year’s day. The National Gallery of Canada was my favourite. We haven’t tried returning to the cabin as we just came back from vacation not too long ago. We’re hoping to go either in February or March. We worked hard to chop up some wood over the fall, so we might as well try to use it!! And yes, good call on staying up until the clock strikes midnight as it seems like you wouldn’t have gotten much sleep anyway from all the neighbourhood celebrations.

  8. Rose says:

    This is exactly how we’d love to celebrate a New Year – lots of outdoors, site-seeing, history, and learning! Hooray for those 5 women who made sure all woman could join the Senate!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It certainly was a great start to 2023 with a great mix of education, exercise and adventure! Agreed, it’s great that monuments like the “Women are Persons” exist to make us more aware and to celebrate historic moments like this!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It seems like there is a bit of something here for everyone and it certainly has a lot of history. Ottawa is known for having extremely cold winters, so I’m glad the temperatures were quite mild when we visited so we got to explore some of the nearby trails as well.

  9. Linda K says:

    Beautiful pictures (as always). Too bad you were there too early for skating along the Rideau Canal. That is the best part of winter in Ottawa.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Agreed, it’s a shame that the Rideau Canal skateway was closed when we visited because of the mild weather. We’ve skated on it before a few years ago towards the end of Winterlude. I just love how Ottawa has embraced winter and offers a bunch of winter activities to enjoy the cold and the snow.

  10. China Dream says:

    oh dear you visited my two favourite places, i feed the birds at Mer Bleue and Dew Berry I go every morning, 7 days a week, unless the snow storm hits and I simply can’t get there. I would have loved meeting up with you.. So glad you got to see “my playground”.. Cheers

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      How lovely to visit the Mer Bleue Conservation Area so often and to feed the birds. We recently started carrying bird seed with us during our hikes in the winter. It’s too bad that our paths didn’t cross. Take care, Linda

  11. Pepper says:

    As close as we are to Canada, we’ve only been to Windsor once and that was a long time ago. Thinking we need to schedule a vacation to explore Canada a bit more. 😊

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We certainly made the most of our weekend in Ottawa. Thankfully most of the national museums were open despite it being a holiday for New Year’s. There’s a bit of something here for everyone and it’s nice that there are a lot of hiking options in and around the city.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. Even though this wasn’t what we initially planned to do for New Year’s, I’m glad we made the most of it and took a spontaneous trip to Ottawa.

  12. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    It turned out that you had a great trip! Sometimes the unexpected can make for the best trips. Hiking, educational tours and art! Lovely. I like the work of Group of Seven and Tom Thomson and Lawren Harris very much. Always great to see their work.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. While it would have been nice to visit the cabin, we probably would have been miserable as we’d have been confined to the indoors given all the slushy snow (and our lack of snowshoes). I’m glad we were able to plan something last minute and explore more of Ottawa. It was a nice balance between indoor and outdoor activities. I totally agree about Canadian art. That was definitely the highlight of the National Gallery of Canada. Lawren Harris is my favourite from the Group of Seven as well.

  13. Bama says:

    I was supposed to go to Ottawa in October 2020, but of course the pandemic forced us all to cancel our travel plans. Do you know how long the renovation work at the Parliament will take? It would be a bummer to fly halfway across the globe to find cranes still standing at the Centre Block. Despite the far-from-ideal circumstances, it sounds like the trip ended up quite well for both of you.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s too bad that your trip was cancelled because of the pandemic. Hopefully you’re able to reschedule now that most travel restrictions have been lifted. I totally agree about how the cranes and all that construction took a bit away from the experience of seeing Parliament Hill. Centre Block, which is the most iconic of the Parliament buildings is undergoing a major renovation and is closed to the public for tours. Unfortunately the renovation is expected to take at least a decade and won’t be completed until at least 2031. The government has created temporary spaces for the House of Commons and the Senate though and does offer free tours of these spaces during this time.

      • Bama says:

        That’s a really long time! I can imagine the anticipation and excitement when it eventually reopens, hopefully in 2031.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. We actually took a tour through Center Block just before they started the renovations. It would be neat to return when it’s finished to see what’s changed.

  14. Little Old World says:

    It’s a shame about your cabin, but Ottawa looks a wonderful place to spend a weekend. I must admit it’s not a city I’m familiar with, but I enjoyed reading about the different things to see and do there and learning about the parliamentary system in Canada. It’s nice to see those five incredible women commemorated outside the Senate building!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m glad we decided to drive a couple hours further to ring in the New Year in Ottawa. It’s typically known for its cold and snowy winters, but I’m glad the temperatures were quite mild when we visited which made wandering around downtown more enjoyable. There’s a lot of history and national museums in the city, so it’s also a great way to sneak in some education in with our exploring. There are a lot of monuments in Ottawa, but the Women and Persons one was my favourite.

  15. ourcrossings says:

    I would love to visit Ottawa one day to see its many wonderful attractions, especially the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Nature – I love cities that have a vibrant arts and culture scene, offering plenty of financially affordable ways to keep entertained. I didn’t know that Louise’s Bourgeois sculpture the metal spider that goes by the name of Maman can be found in Ottawa. Usually, the giant spider artwork can be seen at the Guggenheim Bilbao museum. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s pretty impressive how there are so many national museums in Ottawa, which is always a great way to add some education in with our exploring. The National Gallery of Canada was my favourite with its large collection of Canadian paintings. The Gallery actually purchased the spider sculpture back in 2005. We went there super early so I could take a picture of it without having any randoms in the background. And agreed, it’s nice that there are even some free options in Ottawa in terms of some of the attractions, like taking a tour of the Parliament buildings. It was a great weekend getaway to start 2023. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of the week. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I know, it’s pretty wild how much the weather has changed over the past decade. This winter has been pretty weird so far with milder temperatures with a few crazy temperature swings and snowstorms. We’ve been skating on the Rideau Canal before, so we weren’t too heartbroken that it wasn’t open. Plus it was also a super last minute trip so had no expectations.

  16. Linda K says:

    Looks like you were able to go well with the flow and things worked out okay with your quick change of plans. I have never been to Ottawa and I feel that as a Canadian I must get there one day! I love your photo of the canal and the Parliament Hill (darn cranes!) and didn’t realize there are so many outdoor trails nearby to explore. Thanks for sharing your trip to our capital city 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m so glad we didn’t just drive home and were able to book something last minute in Ottawa for the weekend. There’s a nice range of activities and attractions, including a bunch of museums, historic sites and hiking trails. It’s too bad that there was a lot of construction around Parliament Hill, but apparently it’ll be ongoing until at least 2031. I’m glad they are still offering some of their usual tours, even if they are through the temporary House of Commons and the Senate. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of the week. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I imagine the city looks quite different compared to 25 years ago!! For some reason we’ve only ever been to Ottawa in the winter. The city does a great job of embracing the cold by creating a skating rink on the historic Rideau Canal and having a winter festival with other winter related activities and attractions, including ice sculptures. It does get super cold there though. I would love to visit in the spring for the tulip festival. Next time.

  17. wetanddustyroads says:

    I always like to read about your visits to the cabin … but think your second choice in visiting Ottawa wasn’t bad at all! And to start with a few hiking trails to welcome the new year was such a great idea.
    (Btw, we also didn’t stayed up to welcome 2023 … I think we’re getting too old now 😉).

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It was probably a good thing that we decided to skip on the cabin as trudging through all that deep and slushy snow without our snowshoes would have been miserable. Plus we’d probably be stuck inside for the entire weekend. Visiting Ottawa instead was a great way to start the year and I’m glad we were still able to squeeze in some outdoor time by exploring a few of the trails in and around the city. And staying up late is overrated. I’d rather stick to my usual sleeping schedule and get up early 🙂

  18. travelling_han says:

    What a lovely way to see the New Year in. It looks gorgeous in the snow, and Capital Hill looks like a great area to explore. I’ve never been to Ottawa, but would love to one day 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ottawa has a lot to offer in terms of activities and attractions. There’s a bit of something here for everyone. The winters can be brutal though with all the snow and cold weather, but thankfully it was pretty mild when we went, which always makes spending time outdoors more enjoyable. Hopefully you’re able to see it all for yourself someday.

  19. Vanessa says:

    Sorry about the change of plans due to the weather (that storm was something and affected our holiday plans too!) but I’m happy to see you’ve been able to enjoy some of my favourites around Ottawa! Mer Bleue and Foley Mountain are always stunning, at any time of the year!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was a bit of a bummer that we weren’t able to visit the cabin, but it was probably for the best as we were not prepared to hike in the deep and slushy snow to get there. Plus we probably would have been stuck inside the whole weekend anyway. Visiting Ottawa was a much better option. I’m glad we were able to squeeze in some hiking as well.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It would have been awful to trudge through the deep and slushy snow to get to the cabin, especially since we forgot our snowshoes. I’m glad we decided to just keep driving to Ottawa rather than heading back home. It was a great way to start 2023!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There’s surprisingly a lot of green spaces around Ottawa. I’m glad we managed to explore a few of the trails and get some fresh air. While it’s too bad that we weren’t able to go to the cabin, it was probably for the best given the conditions (and the fact that we forgot our snowshoes). And hey, it sure beat turning around and just driving home.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! It was a spontaneous decision to go to Ottawa for the weekend. The city has a lot to offer in terms of activities and attractions. I’m glad we even got to squeeze in some hiking.

  20. grandmisadventures says:

    What a great way to ring in the new year! I loved seeing Ottawa with you! It is one of those places that I knew the name and that it was the capital, but knew very little about it past that. Looks like a really lovely city with so much to offer 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. For some reason we’ve only ever been to Ottawa in the winter when the city is at its coldest. There’s a wide range of activities, including a lot of museums. We were only hitting the tip of the iceberg. I guess this means we’ll just have to return. Hopefully in a different season next time.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Visiting Ottawa was a great way to start the New Year. I love how there’s a bit of something here for everyone and that there are so many museums. I’m glad we were able to explore a few of the trails as well.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ottawa tends to get hit with a lot of snow in the winter. And for some reason, every time we’ve visited Ottawa, it’s been during the middle of winter. It is nice how the city has embraced it though and offers lots of winter activities and ice sculptures. There’s also a lot of museums, which is great way to avoid the outdoors when the weather isn’t the greatest.

  21. Josy A says:

    This does look like a lovely (if chilly) start to the year! I have only visited Ottawa in the summer time, so it is interesting to see it covered in snow.

    (p.s. I don’t think its embarrassing that you didn’t wait until midnight – Having a good sleep followed by a fab day in Ottawa sounds perfect!)

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny because for some reason we’ve only ever visited Ottawa in the winter. I was thinking the same thing about we should visit in a different season as I’m sure the city will look completely different. Glad to hear I’m not the only one that prioritizes sleep. I’m a creature of habit and would have probably woken up early in the morning anyway. This way we were well rested and had a lot of energy to explore the city for the weekend.

  22. rkrontheroad says:

    I haven’t been to Ottawa, but have been to the wonderful group of seven exhibits in Toronto. I love their work. Glad to learn about the Women are Persons! sculpture.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I have a newfound appreciation of the Group of Seven after taking several road trips through northern Ontario and seeing the landscapes that provided much inspiration for their work. The National Gallery of Canada has an impressive collection of their work and was one of the highlights of our weekend in Ottawa. It makes me want to go to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection which features even more art from the Group of Seven.

  23. majaalifee says:

    Natural attractions and parks in the vicinity of the city amaze with their beauty, and cultural and historical objects are equally significant and inspiring. You described this beautiful country very nicely and interestingly. I wish you a nice day.

  24. BrittnyLee says:

    That’s too bad about the snow shoes but you made the best of it. I had a hard time staying up until midnight this New Years Eve, too. I was able to do it but it was hard haha. You made the better choice enjoying the next morning and getting more sights in 🙂 The canal look so pretty

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        It’s funny because history was never one of my favourite subjects while in school. I have more of an appreciation of it now as an adult and just enjoy learning about new things.

      • BrittnyLee says:

        I liked history as a kid but didn’t find it as interesting as I do now. I think it’s because we aren’t being tested on it 🤣. I can actually take my time to learn about things, not be rushed .

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        HA, good point! I must say, I’m so glad our days of being in school are over. I like being able to learn at my own pace too and so glad we don’t have to take exams anymore. The stress was too much.

      • BrittnyLee says:

        It’s true ! I don’t miss the exams, either. I always got so nervous taking tests. I still do lol. I wish they would do away with the pssas and other standardized tests they put these poor kids through. I had to take the pssas
        They were no fun and they took forever. The only good thing that came from them was the snack they provided us after they were over. The stress was too much. You’re 100 percent right. There has to be a better way to assess the understanding of knowledge.

  25. Max Ethan says:

    I was supposed to go to Ottawa in October 2020, but of course the pandemic forced us all to cancel our travel plans. Do you know how long the renovation work at the Parliament will take? It would be a bummer to fly halfway across the globe to find cranes still standing at the Centre Block. Despite the far-from-ideal circumstances, it sounds like the trip ended up quite well for both of you.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s a bit of a bummer that you had to cancel your plans to visit Ottawa because of the pandemic, especially since that area is so beautiful in the fall when all the leaves are changing colour. I know what you mean about how the cranes and scaffolding can take away from the beauty of the Parliament buildings. Unfortunately the major renovations are expected to take at least a decade and won’t be completed until at least 2031. The government has created temporary spaces and recreated some of the iconic rooms for the Senate and House of Commons though, which is better than nothing.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. While this wasn’t the weekend that we initially planned, I’m glad we made the most of it and were able to spend more time in Ottawa. The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum was a lot of fun. I’ve always enjoyed these types of dynamic museums as it’s a great way to learn. Plus who doesn’t enjoy seeing cute animals!?

  26. Flowerpoet says:

    How interesting! I grew up in Northeastern Ontario and visited Ottawa several times however you have given an educational glimpse of that area that I had not known. For example, I was not aware of the sculptural tribute and history behind the statues for Women there. How recent is our evolution regarding issues of Gender even in this progressive Canadian society! Happy International Women’s Day tomorrow, the 8th. 🤗💐🎉👏💕✨

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. Ottawa has a lot to offer in terms of museums and its natural scenery. It’s great that there are so many green spaces in and around the city. Spending time outdoors definitely helps soothe the soul.

  27. alisendopf says:

    I just got back from Ottawa a few days ago. What??? You got a tour of Parliament??? I thought they weren’t on due to the construction. We looked online, but didn’t see any tours offered. Lucky you! Thanks for all the great photos inside Parliament. I am seriously jealous.

    We did some kayaking on Racoon Lake, just north of Peterborough, but then it started to rain like crazy so went to Ottawa for some indoor fun. We visited the Aerospace Museum, instead of the war museum. My husband is a pilot, and while I’ll usually avoid ANOTHER airplane museum, the rain made it an easy choice to go.

    When I visited Ottawa a few years ago, I went to the Diefenbaker bunker. Have you been?

    Lucky you for getting in some hikes. I had a few planned, but it was just too wet and windy.

    Great trip to our national Capitol! I think everyone should visit.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Parliament buildings have been under construction for a few years now. And the Centre Block isn’t expected to be completed until 2031. Tours are still offered, but the tickets can be hard to come by (probably because they’re free). Our trip to Ottawa over the New Year was so last minute, so the only tours available when I checked online the day before were in French. I booked them anyway. It turns out we don’t remember much from high school French. Either way, it was fun to see some of the rooms like the Senate and House of Commons.

      Sounds like you had a fun vacation. That’s awesome that you got to spend some time on the water too, despite the rain. We’ve had a very wet spring this year in Ontario, which hasn’t been ideal for hiking. Thankfully there are a lot of museums in Ottawa to help escape the dreary weather though.

      We have been to the Diefenbunker, but it’s been a few years. From what I remember, we had a good time and we were pretty much the only ones there, which is always great.

      Agreed, a visit to Ottawa is definitely recommended. We’ve never been in the spring though, but I would love to go to see the tulip festival. Next time.

      • alisendopf says:

        2031…. I will mark my calendar to come back in a decade 🙂 It’s worth the effort. Those buildings are stunning, and we really don’t have a lot of old heritage sites like that.

        A wet spring means lots of flowers for you to enjoy. We could use some rain out here, so please feel free to send it our way to douse the wild fires.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I should do the same. And agreed, it’s too bad we don’t make those types of heritage buildings anymore. Just look at the sad state of our PM’s residence!

        The first half of our spring was pretty cold and rainy, but we’ve had nothing but sunshine these past few weeks. We could use some rain as well. I heard about all the forest fires out west. We even had a couple of days where our skies were hazy from it. And to think it’s not even summer yet. Stay safe out there.

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