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2014-2015Ottawa Visitor Guide

View our Ottawa Visitor Guide online to plan your stay in Canada’s Capital region.

2014-2015 Ottawa Visitor Guide

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Let’s Go Ottawa

RCMP Musical Ride Centre a hidden gem


Check out this video (yes, filmed on a windy day, sorry about that!) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride Centre. This is where the 32 horses and riders of this famous cavalry-drill-set-to-music are trained.

The video was taken in April as the RCMP Commissioner inspected the Ride before it took off on its summer tour schedule, taking it throughout Canada and the U.S. They will return, though, to perform at the Sunset Ceremonies at the Centre. That’s scheduled for June 23-27, 2010. And they’ll be performing on Parliament Hill on Canada Day, July 1. Don’t miss it!

If you visit while the Ride is on tour, you’ll still be able to learn a lot about the history of the RCMP, the evolution of the Musical Ride and you’ll be able to see some great artifacts like the landau (carriage) that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will use during their visit this July (yes, they’ll be at Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa this year!).

You can also visit the stables and see the horses. Sometimes you can see the new recruits practising. And if you’re driving on the Rockcliffe Parkway on your way to the Canada Aviation Museum, watch for the beautiful black (actually really dark brown) horses gamboling in the fields adjacent to the stables.

Love those Canadian icons!

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Great new shows at Casino du Lac-Leamy!


casino-du-lac-leamy-and-hilton-low-res-credit-casino-du-lac-leamyCasino du Lac-Leamy at nightLooking for a fun night out? Consider dinner and a show at the Casino du Lac-Leamy. Just a five-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, the Casino is an upscale entertainment venue, whether your evening includes food, drink, performances, or gaming excitement.

Their Théâtre offers a series of impressive tribute acts over the coming weeks — whether you’re interested in the music of Tom Petty (May 1), The Eagles (May 8), Motown (May 15), the Bee Gees (May 22), Eric Clapton (June 11-12), U2 (June 25-26), or Chicago (July 2), you won’t be disappointed. Tickets start at just $30 for some of the shows, $40 for others.

The facility is quite impressive, with unimpeded sightlines from each seat and first-rate acoustics.

For just $30 more, you can upgrade to the full dinner-and-a-sh0w option. A delicious three-course meal (with choice of appetizer and main course) awaits! Remember, attendance is restricted to people 18 and over.

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Ottawa Bluesfest announces lineup!


One of the most anticipated festivals of the year in Ottawa is the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest, which takes place from July 6 through 18, 2010. They just announced their lineup today, filled with top names like Arcade Fire, Santana, Rush, Iron Maiden, Weezer, Keith Urban, the B-52s, Gipsy Kings, Moody Blues, Crowded House, and more!

What makes Bluesfest so great is the party atmosphere. Six stages encircle the Canadian War Museum on LeBreton Flats overlooking the Ottawa River — the music continues almost non-stop. The crowds are a friendly mix of locals and visitors., and the festival has a commitment to green practices: using biodiesel for their generators, compostable beer cups made from corn, a robust recycling program, and environmentally friendly cleaning products. They also provide tons of bicycle parking!

Check out their website to search who’s playing by day, by stage or by performer and start planning your visit today — tickets go on sale April 24!

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Who was D’Arcy McGee?


D’Arcy McGee was a Father of Canadian Confederation, a true founder of this country. He was known for his writing and oratory skills and was a friend of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

After a late debate in April 1868 — less than a year after Confederation — McGee was returning to his rooming house on Sparks Street when he was accosted by an unknown assailant, shot in the back of the head and left for dead! It was Canada’s first political assassination, and the hunt was on for his killer.

Ottawa tailor Patrick James Whelan was arrested for the crime. He was a suspected Fenian — a group that thought by invading Canada, they could win independence for Ireland. He was convicted of the crime and was hanged on a cold day in February 1869 in Canada’s last public hanging. (In fact, you can visit Death Row at his former prison as part of a Haunted Walk tour. Or you can stay in the cells on the lower floors — the prison is now the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel!)

darcy-mcgees-hand-replica-credit-the-bytown-museum-ottawa-canadaD'Arcy McGee's "death hand"Visit the engaging Bytown Museum to learn more about D’Arcy McGee and his supposed assassin (there are many who believe Whelan was innocent, and that his ghost haunts the hostel grounds to this day). You can even see his “death hand” — a plaster cast of his writing hand. (In Victorian times, it was common to make plaster “death masks” of recently deceased people, but as McGee had been shot in the head, that was not an option. At the time, they said it was because he was such a great writer.)

Or, raise a pint to the politician at the fun D’Arcy McGee’s Irish pub, located just steps from his former rooming house, on Sparks Street at the corner of Elgin Street. (There are other locations at the airport and in the suburbs as well.) It’s a popular watering hole for politicians and their staffs even today, and offers great live music and food.

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Pop Life preview


If you’re like me, you can’t wait until the Pop Life: Art in a Material World exhibit opens at the National Gallery of Canada on June 11. And while it runs until September 19, you may want to get a preview of what you can expect from this exhibit, which makes its only North American stop in Ottawa, after mesmerizing people at the Tate Modern in London.

So, head on down to the Gallery this Thursday night at 6:30pm (free admission, after all, from 5:00-8:00pm on Thursdays!) and hear Jack Bankowsky, the co-curator, as he discusses contemporary art, commerce, media and celebrity.

Then, on Sunday, April 11 at 2:00pm, Jonathan Shaughnessy, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, will trace the connections between the artists featured in Pop Life and their art historical ancestors. NOTE: this presentation is in French in the Lecture Hall, with free admission.

He’ll repeat the presentation — in English — on Thursday, April 15 at 6:30pm in the Lecture Hall.

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