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Ottawa à vélo – rien de plus beau!

11 Sep

Des pistes cyclables longent le canal Rideau dans le centre-ville d’Ottawa

Vous voulez visiter la capitale du Canada et prendre de l’air frais en même temps? Avec plus de 180 kilomètres de sentiers récréatifs joignant les espaces naturels, les parcs, les jardins et les sites nationaux, Ottawa est une ville de rêve pour les amateurs de cyclisme! Voici quelques options :

Pour cyclistes expérimentés et indépendants :

Vous pouvez apporter votre propre vélo (à bord d’un train-vélo de Via Rail peut-être?) et planifier votre trajet à l’aide d’outils variés. La Commission de la capitale nationale(CCN), l’organisation qui gère la majeure partie des sentiers de la capitale, consacre une section complète de leur site web au cyclisme. On y présente entre-autres les outils suivants:

  • Le document La capitale du vélo: Cette carte, qui présente un survol des sentiers de la région, est disponible de façon numérique ou imprimée.
  • La Carte du réseau cyclable – Ottawa-Gatineau : Cette carte présente le réseau de façon plus détaillée. Ce document est aussi disponible de façon numérique ou imprimé.
  • La carte Google Maps : La nouvelle option « vélo » de Google Maps vous donne accès au réseau cyclable de la capitale par le biais de votre ordinateur ou votre téléphone intelligent.

Pour cyclistes avec habiletés et intérêts variés :

Des cyclistes prennent avantage des vélos-dimanches sur la promenade de Sir-John-A.-Macdonald (anciennement la promenade de l’Outaouais)

Il y a des pistes pour tous! Des pistes faciles et pavées, des pistes cendrées, des pistes de montagne dans le parc de la Gatineau et plus encore. Sans oublier Les vélos-dimanches Alcatel-Lucent lors desquels plus de 50 kilomètres de promenades à Ottawa et dans le parc de la Gatineau sont fermées à la circulation automobile pour les cyclistes, patineurs à roues alignées, coureurs et marcheurs.

Plusieurs compagnies à Ottawa offrent leurs services pour faciliter vos randonnées:

  • Louez un vélo (avec casque et cadenas) par heure, par jour ou par semaine chez Vélocation. Ils offrent des vélos de toutes sortes : de course, tandem, de montagne et pour enfants. Ils offrent aussi des randonnées guidées et des suggestions de trajet.
  • Faites une randonnée avec Ottawa Cycling Tours en utilisant votre propre vélo ou une location. Ils offrent des randonnées adaptées aux besoins et aux goûts de tous. Ils peuvent personnaliser des itinéraires, ou vous pouvez choisir une de leurs randonnées prédéterminées (par exemple: visiter des brasseries; longer la rivière des Outaouais; se rendre à Carp pour visiter le Diefenbunker.)

Une des nombreuses pistes cyclables de la capitale – celle-ci longe la rivière des Outaouais, sous la colline du Parlement

Pour ceux qui veulent un mode de transport facile et abordable :

Un vélo “Bixi” devant les fameuses sculptures de pierres équilibrées aux rapides Remic le long de la rivière des Outaouais

BIXI de la capitale est la solution parfaite pour ceux qui veulent faire de courts déplacements d’un site touristique à l’autre. Ce système de vélos en libre-service compte 250 vélos et 25 stations situées à proximité d’un grand nombre de lieux touristiques de la capitale. La tarification encourage une utilisation fréquente et de courte durée. Une autre façon idéale de se déplacer au centre-ville de la capitale!

Avec tant d’options, pourquoi pas visiter Ottawa sur deux roues?

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Savour Ottawa Harvest Table a success!

14 Sep

Savour Ottawa Harvest Table

On Sunday, August 28, a delicious family-style meal was served to 100 lucky gourmands at the first-ever Savour Ottawa Harvest Table. Savour Ottawa is a group that works to identify and promote locally grown, raised and produced food. They promote local area farmers; restaurants/caterers who show a commitment to buying local goods; and retailers who sell local food.

The Harvest Table event was the group’s first public event. Up to now, most of their work has been done behind the scenes, linking chefs and farmers and creating new business opportunities.

But on that Sunday — while Hurricane Irene skirted the east coast and produced a chillier-than-normal overcast day in Ottawa — guests were treated to a multi-course feast under tents and on tables decorated with burlap and fresh wildflowers.

The food was amazing — from an antipasti plate of local meats and cheeses to fresh salads bursting with flavour to 3 delicious main courses (wild boar and beef and mushroom tourte) to delectable desserts. Guests also received two sample tickets they could use to indulge in local favourites, Kichesippi Beer or Domaine Perrault wine. They could also enjoy some fresh corn-on-the-cob with gourmet butters.

Mayor Jim Watson and Councillors Maria McRae, Doug Thompson and Katherine Hobbs also attended. Mayor Watson and Councillor McRae announced the $10 Local Challenge, encouraging Ottawans to spend $10 per household on local food.

Ontario author Lynn Ogryzlo, whose cookbook The Ontario Table, is a work of art devoted to Ontario farmers and chefs, created the $10 local challenge across the province — if every household were to spend that $10 per week on local food, at the end of the year, that would mean $2.4 billion in the province’s economy. Lynn was on-hand to sign copies of her book.

Enjoy this short video with highlights of the Harvest Table event:

Ottawa Fall Festivals

12 Sep

Ottawa may be Canada’s Capital, but not all of our parties are political. Here’s a brief overview of some of fabulous fall festivals and celebrations happening in the city and nearby towns and villages.

International Plowing Match & Rural Exp0
Sept 20 – 24

Nearby Prescott-Russell comes alive with this annual autumn competition and exhibition. It’s a tough row to hoe, but someone’s got to do it!

Ottawa International Animation Festival
Sept 21 – 25

It’s the largest festival of its kind in North America and attracts film buffs, art lovers, filmmakers and cartoon fans from around the world! Image (right): La Luna, Director: Enrico Casarosa, Pixar Animation Studios, 2011.

Ottawa Fashion Week
Sept 29 – Oct 2

Ottawa, Canadian and international designers strut their stuff for Spring/Summer 2012 during the seventh annual Ottawa Fashion Week.

Beau’s Oktoberfest
Sept 30 – Oct 2

Local microbrewer Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company presents three days of Oktoberfest fun in Vankleek Hill, an hour east of Ottawa.

Fall Rhapsody
Sept 30 – Oct 16

The annual celebration of fall colours in Gatineau Park, featuring activities, learning and sightseeing for the whole family.

Ottawa International Writers Festival
Oct 20 – 25

Michael Ondaatje, Irshad Manji, Chef Michael Smith, Wayne Johnston, Adrienne Clarkson, Guy Vanderhaeghe are just some of the authors confirmed for this annual event. Image (right): Ian Rankin who appears at the Festival on October 24th

Ottawa Food and Wine Festival
Nov 9 – 13

The longest running event of its kind in Canada, the Festival moves into the all-new Ottawa Convention Centre and expands to five taste-filled days of programming.

Early July in Ottawa

4 Jul

Well, the euphoria of the Royal Visit  to Ottawa of Prince William and Kate Middleton (the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, that is) on Canada Day is finally starting to fade a wee bit. But don’t despair! There are still lots of great activities to fill your days in Ottawa during this early part of July. For example:

The fabulous Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest— a musical party spanning six stages and 12 days just outside the Canadian War Museum — runs July 5-17. Whatever your musical tastes, you should find something that satisfies, from Buddy Guy to Huey Lewis & the News, from Peter Frampton to Death Cab for Cutie, from Jane’s Addiction to Blue Rodeo, plus comedy acts and more!

The Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest attracts a huge crowd each year -- but there are six stages, ensuring you'll find something you like!

If you’d prefer the strains of classical music, don’t miss Music and Beyond, which runs July 7-17. The opening night event has a Shakespearean theme and features great Canadian actor Christopher Plummer!

If you want to be active (or watch those who are), you can’t miss the HOPE Volleyball Summerfest on July 9 — the world’s largest one-day beach volleyball tournament! The action’s at Mooney’s Bay Beach and features performances by Big Sugar and Tokyo Police Club. Awesome!

If you’re more a laboratory bum than a beach bum, you’ll love the Canada Science and Technology Museum‘s Chemistry Uncovered event, July 7-10. Besides taking part in exciting hands-on experiments, you can see an amazing magic show, taste some delicious liquid nitrogen ice cream, or, on July 9, catch David Cronenberg’s critically acclaimed movie The Fly (PG-13, with French subtitles), at the Museum’s outdoor after-dark screening (bring blankets or folding chairs and a donation to the Ottawa Food Bank).

If theatre’s more your thing, take a drive to the picturesque town of Perth to catch the Classic Theatre Festival‘s performance of Bell, Book and Candle July 8-31 (or  catch The Fourposter August 5-28). Or enjoy the intrigues of a fast-paced version of Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra performed in local parks by the frenetic Company of Fools (until August 20).

The Changing the Guard Ceremony is a longstanding summertime tradition in Ottawa.

Finally, check out some fun FREE activities on Parliament Hill  (beyond the tours) like the daily Changing the Guard ceremony at 10am on the front lawn (until August 26) or the spectacular Sound and Light Show — called Mosaika — that uses the Parliament Buildings as a gigantic screen, projecting images and special effects while telling the story of Canada through its people. It’s a winner, running July 6-September 5). Both events are weather permitting.

Get out there and enjoy!

Yummy Gooey Goodness!

2 Mar

March is maple syrup time in Canada’s Capital area, with local sugar bushes boiling down sap and serving up syrup and fun!  The Ottawa region is home to many maple syrup operations welcoming guests and groups to discover how the gooey golden syrup is made.  Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush near Carleton Place just west of the city offers a wide range of group, student and family educational programs and tours – plus plenty of syrup sampling!   Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm – also close to downtown – presents a syrup season Sunday brunch plus free tours, petting farm, wagon rides all centred around its heritage sugar shack.

Gatineau Park winter season begins today

15 Dec

Some of Gatineau Park's trails offer tremendous views of the surrounding countryside.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) just announced that Gatineau Park’s winter trail network opened today, Wednesday, December 15!

While Gatineau Park is beautiful in any season, it’s especially enticing in winter. Best of all, it’s only 15 minutes’ drive north of Parliament Hill, meaning that enjoying this wilderness setting is an integral part of many Ottawans’ lives.

There are more than 250km (155 miles) of trails available in the park, allowing hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in a variety of  settings. Some are gentle, flat trails — including the popular and universally accessible Sugarbush Trail adjacent to the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre in Chelsea, Québec.

The Park boasts 10 daytime shelters where skiers or snowshoers can warm up at wood stoves and enjoy a snack or lunch that they may have brought with them. It’s also possible to spend the night in one of Gatineau Park’s four cabins, three yurts or by winter camping under the stars at Philippe Lake. Reservations are required for these activities.

Gatineau Park snowshoeing offers trails for cross-country skiing, winter hiking and snowshoeing

Cross-country skiers need to purchase a ski pass — you can purchase a season pass online or at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre. Daily passes are also available at the Visitor Centre or at any of the park’s parking areas that provide direct access to the open trails. Daily rates are $13 for adults, $9 for youths (13-17 years old), $9 for students (18-24) and seniors (60+), and free for children 12 and under. A family pass (2 adults and 3 youths) is $27.

There are no fees to snowshoe on the park’s 45km (28-mile) snowshoe trail network, accessible from parking lots 6, 13, 15, 17, 19 and the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre in Chelsea.

There are no fees to use the 10-kilometre winter walking trail network, accessible from parking lots 3, 6 and the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre. Domestic animals are permitted on leash on winter walking trails only.

You can find up-to-date ski conditions and trail statuses online or by calling the trail conditions hotline at 819-827-2020, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What are your favourite trails? I’ve snowshoed the Wolf Trail near Meech Lake a few times and while it’s a gruelling uphill hike, the views are definitely worth it!

Get out there and enjoy!

Fall colours on display, Hallowe’en around the corner!

13 Oct

I love the autumn! Crisp clear days, great produce at local farmers’ markets and beautiful fall colours!


Fall colours in Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood.

I happened to be walking in the Glebe neighbourhood this morning on my way to a meeting. I was amazed at the orange, red and yellow colours shown in a group of three trees hanging over a residential street — gorgeous! The photo from my BlackBerry really doesn’t do it justice.

Of course, October also means Hallowe’en and nobody does Hallowe’en better than Saunders Farm. This family-friendly farm is located southwest of Ottawa in the small town of…  (wait for it!)… Munster!


There's still lots to see at Saunders Farm if the Barn of Terror is too scary for you!

The farm offers a variety of experiences, from daytime fun that includes hedge mazes, wagon rides through the pumpkin patch, farm animals, a playful pirate ship and a delicious bakery.

At night, though, Saunders really comes to life (or is it life after death???). Not recommended for kids under 10 (or those with a weak constitution!), you can explore the Barn of Terror, take a Haunted Hayride or cheer on the Gathering of the Ghouls!

It’s easy to spend a few hours strolling the grounds. You never know what you might encounter.

And check out Thursday Fright Nights at the Canadian Museum of Nature throughout October! Take a Haunted Tour of the 100-year-old museum building with Haunted Walk of Ottawa (which have a whole series of creepy tours planned throughout the year — with a special focus on October!), and catch a screening of The Shining in the museum’s high-definition theatre! There’s even live music at the on-site Nature Café!

Happy hauntings!