I’m very proud of Ottawa. my home town. Since Canada is celebrating 150 years since Confederation, the country is in celebration mode all year. Ottawa, the capital, is chockful of interesting sights to visit, discover and appreciate. Here are 7 of my favorite sights and all of them are free!
1 – Canada’s Parliament. Two guided tours are available and both offer an amazing glimpse into the political history of Canada. The Centre Block guided tour allows you to discover the history, functions, and art of Canada’s Parliament. This iconic building is home to the Senate, House of Commons and Library of Parliament. During the summer, from July to early September the East Block guided tour lets you visit the offices of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald; his colleague Sir George-Étienne Cartier; the Governor General, Lord Dufferin; and the Privy Council. Both tours are free but you will need tickets which are available on a first come first serve basis at 90 Wellington Street (across from Parliament Hill). Tours are available in both French and English.
2 – The Changing of the Guard. This ceremony began as a morning routine on the Hill in 1959 and has turned into an annual tradition. This large-scale production includes a regimental band and pipers. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. each morning on Parliament Hill, in front of the main Parliament Building. Be prepared to see a beautiful meticulously choreographed ceremony! However, August 25th is the last day of the year to be part of this great tradition.
3 – Kontinuum. This one of a kind sensory tour takes spectators to the depths of the city where the upcoming Light Rail Transit will be in operation in 2018. Created by Ottawa 2017 and the Canadian multimedia studio Moment Factory, this 45-minute tour is sure to excite all of your senses. I will be posting photos and a review at a later time as I will be experiencing it myself in a few days. The tickets are free, and the tour runs from 10 am to 10 pm. you can get your tour tickets at the Kontinuum site. The Kontinuum experience runs through September 14th, 2017.
4 – Balanced Rock Art at Remic Rapids. Remic Rapids, located along the Ottawa River, serve as artist John Ceprano’s canvas. He spends his days creating amazing structures made of precariously perched and balanced rocks. It’s quite interesting to see how he works and he’s always willing to chat up visitors. The best time to visit is at sunset when the sculptures take on the fiery glow of the sun.
5 – The ByWard Market. Established in 1826, the ByWard Market is one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets. It includes a large outdoor market, as well as hundreds of indoor stalls. Opened every day of the year except for Christmas and New Year, you are sure to find some great craft items, souvenirs, local agrifoods and specialty shops.
6 – Light Show on Parliament Hill. “Northern Lights” is an impressive 30-minute multimedia show set against the backdrop of the iconic Parliament Buildings. The experience takes the audience on an unforgettable journey of sound and light through Canada’s history. In August the bilingual show starts at 9:30 pm, and will run until September 16th 2017.
7 – Walk along the Rideau Canal. The Rideau Canal was originally built to connect Ottawa to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River. It is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America and was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Accessible from several locations in the downtown core, the Rideau Canal is a great location for a walk or a run.
Have you been to Ottawa? If so, what is your favorite activity or location?