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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

Ottawa 2017

Let’s Go Ottawa

Christmas and New Year’s in Ottawa


So maybe you’re planning a visit to Ottawa over the holiday season… or maybe you live here and are looking for some suggestions of what to see and do. This is a starting guide of what awaits — watch for updates as December progresses!


Christmas Lights Across CanadaChristmas Lights Across Canada - last year's launch on Parliament Hill Everybody loves free stuff, especially when there are so many other demands on your wallet! Be sure to wander the downtown Ottawa and Gatineau streets between December 2, 2010 and January 7, 2011 and admire the Christmas Lights Across Canadaprogram — more than 300,000 coloured lights decorate Parliament Hill, the National War Memorial and other scenic sites.

It doesn’t cost anything to window shop — and some of the best can be done in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. For the three weekends before Christmas (Dec. 4-19; 12-4pm), you can also get in the spirit by singing Christmas carols (songsheets are provided) on a free horse-drawn carriage ride through the Market’s streets. Other choirs have been invited to sing during the same times at the corner of George Street and ByWard Market Square — donations are welcome.

 You can celebrate the Winter Solstice at the Canada Science and Technology Museum on Tuesday, December 21 with a FREE stargazing party — but dress warmly because the event is only outdoors (7pm).



Most people have Christmas Day off as a holiday, but there are a few things you can do: stroll the grounds of Parliament Hill, enjoy some excitement at the Casino du Lac-Leamy, watch reunions at the Ottawa International Airport, go tobogganing in a local park (weather permitting), or grab a drink or a snack at a local hotel.

A few examples:

Grill 41 in the Lord Elgin Hotel offers a plated Christmas dinner table d’hôte (4 courses) for $49 on both December 24 and 25 — and a plated New Year’s Eve dinner table d’hôte (5 courses) for $69 on December 31.

Lane’s Restaurant in the Holiday Inn & Suites is open on December 25 and on Boxing Day (December 26) as of 11:00am, as well as on December 31 and January 1.

101 Café (in the Crowne Plaza Ottawa offers a five-course meal with holiday entertainment and dancing on December 31 and a January 1 New Year’s Day breakfast buffet.

As I mentioned, this is a first post — watch for more info as we get closer to the holidays! Or post your own suggestions below!

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Ottawa’s marketing gets a gold star


photoOur lovely award statuette. We're told that it's made from one solid piece of diamond.Heading to Deerhurst Resort is its own reward. The absolutely stunning Muskoka surroundings make for a great venue for the annual Ontario Tourism Summit. After a number of great speakers covering off topics including areas like digital marketing, accessibility, and cooperation between Ontario’s many tourism destinations, we couldn’t be feeling much better, considering a glance outside filled the eyes with a serenely beautiful view of Peninsula Lake.

What really put a feather in our cap was taking home two trophies at that evening’s OTMPC Awards Gala, hosted by Toronto’s always-charming Kevin Frankish. The award for Best Tourism Advertising encompassed our efforts over 2009, including print, radio, television and online. You can see one of the winning spots below.

Next came the Culinary Tourism Leadership Award, honouring Savour Ottawa’s efforts in turning Ottawa into a legitimate culinary destination.

Our enormous thanks go to all the partners who make Ottawa the fantastic destination it is for tourists! If you don’t mind, we’re going to go bite down on our award statuettes now–we’re told they’re made of pure 24K gold.

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Do you speak Ottawan?


Skating on Rideau CanalThat's "The Château" (centre) and "DND" (right) in the background of this photo of skating on "The Canal." Read the text for a translation! If you’re a visitor to Ottawa, you might not recognize everything that comes out of a local’s mouth. Here’s a guide to some unique-to-Ottawa expressions that you might find useful!


Some of the expressions are geographical in nature. You should know, for instance, that “The Hill” refers to Parliament Hill, home of the House of Commons and Senate and the core of Canadian democracy.

The Market” refers to the ByWard Market – not just a building, or a one- or two-day-a-week farmers’ market, but a whole neighbourhood. Bounded roughly by Susssex Drive, Murray Street, Dalhousie Street and George Street, “the Market” is home to a 363-day-a-year outdoor market; shops and boutiques; 120+ bars, restaurants and other places to eat and drink; and a thriving residential district.

If you listen to a traffic report, you’ll hear mention of “The Queensway” but they’re really referring to the main east-west thoroughfare–Highway 417. “The Split” refers to the segment in the east end where Highway 174 splits off to head to the neighbourhood of Orléans while the 417 continues through eastern Ontario and the Québec border.

The Château” (often pronounced more like “shadow”) refers to the Fairmont Château Laurier. “The Canal” can only refer to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal. And “ LeBreton Flats” is the area just outside the Canadian War Museum that is also hosts the fabulous Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest each July.

Before 2003, the downtown area across the Ottawa River from downtown Ottawa was the City of “ Hull“. But following an amalgamation of several Québec municipalities, the correct name is now Gatineau, though many still refer to Hull (or at least the “Hull sector” of Gatineau).

Ottawa went through a similar amalgamation of 11 municipalities to create a new, larger City of Ottawa in 2001. You’ll still hear people refer to Kanata,” “Nepean,” “Vanier,” and “Rockcliffe Park,” among others, that used to be separate municipalities.


As the capital, Ottawa hosts most of the federal bureaucracy and with that comes a love of acronyms that knows no bounds. You’ll hear talk of “DFAIT” (pronounced DEE-fate), “DND,” “PWGSC,” “PSAC,” “the GG,” “PMO” and more. (For those who are paying attention, that’s the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Department of National Defence, Public Works and Government Services Canada, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Governor General, and the Prime Minister’s Office.)

You might hear those acronyms if you’re hobnobbing in an establishment such as Hy’s Steakhouse or among cabinet ministers’ staffers at D’Arcy McGee’s Pub on Sparks Street, or enjoying your $1 oysters at “Hill Hour” (not Happy Hour) at Métropolitain Brasserie.


Sens MileWelcome to the Sens Mile, aka Elgin Street. Ahh, the Ottawa Senators, our local National Hockey League franchise! They’re “the Sens“ and they play at “the Bank” (Scotiabank Place) and you can cheer them on at an establishment on Elgin Street, also known as the “Sens Mile.” If you do, you’ll become part of the “Sens Army.” Some still refer to Scotiabank Place as the “Corel Centre” or even the “Palladium“–both former names of the building. Oh, and “Alfie” is Daniel Alfredsson, the beloved team captain.

Among the university and college teams, cheers on the “Ravens” at Carleton University, the “Thunder” at Algonquin College and, um, the “Gee-Gees” at the University of Ottawa. I’m an alumna, so I can tell you what the heck a gee-gee is: it’s the lead horse in a race.


 What’s a “chip truck,” you ask? It’s a (usually mobile) truck or cart on the street that serves fast food — usually hot dogs, burgers, fries and “poutine” (French fries, gravy and cheese curds).

Ottawans’ favourite sweet treat is a “BeaverTail” and no, it does not have much to do with the iconic Canadian animal (except that its shape is reminscent of the posterior appendage of the rodent). It’s a hot wholewheat pastry treat topped with a variety of toppings — the most popular of which is cinnamon and sugar.


Ottawa’s “Chinatown” is found on Somerset Street West between Preston Street and Bay Street and “Little Italyis along Preston Street. The French Quarter” is the name given to the former (mostly francophone) municipality of Vanier and “The Village” is the name given to a burgeoning LGBT area of town, along Bank Street (between Nepean and James Streets).

So how ’bout it, Ottawans? Have I missed anything? And for all you visitors out there, are there any terms you’ve heard that haven’t made sense to you? Let us know and we’ll try to help!

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Winterlude packages now available!


I know, I know — you don’t necessarily want to think about snow and ice while it’s still October. However, for those of you who plan far in advance, or who know they’re going to be in Ottawa for business or pleasure in February… you should know that our Winterlude packages are now available.

Winterlude is a fun, mostly free festival celebrating winter in Canada’s capital region. Most programming happens on weekends between February 4 to 21 (Family Day), 2011. Skating on the 7.8 km (4.8 miles) of the Rideau Canal Skateway (weather permitting) is a key activity, but so are outdoor performances, snow and ice slides, ice sculptures, restaurant promotions and more!

The Winterlude Family Getaway is aimed at, well, families and includes accommodation at your choice of hotel and a Rideau Centre Savings Directory (for some great downtown shopping!). In addition, you can add on a family visit to your favourite museum: whether it’s the Crazy Kitchen at the Canada Science & Technology Museum or the creepy critters of the Animalium exhibit at the newly renovated Canadian Museum of Nature.

Skating on Ottawa's Rideau CanalThis could be you (or maybe you in the background!) skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway next February. Meanwhile, the Winterlude Rendezvous for Two also includes accommodations and the Rideau Centre Savings Directory, plus the chance to add on a museum visit (maybe the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Canada, or the poignant stories of the Canadian War Museum) or maybe you’d prefer a $50 gift certificate for Holtz Spa, tickets to an Ottawa Senators games, a meal at Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures, or a performance at the National Arts Centre. You choose what works for you!

Hope to see you in Ottawa this winter!

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Trick or treat (at 24 Sussex and Rideau Hall!)


lpg6041Trick or treating at the gates of Rideau HallI’m wondering if anyone’s yet told Canada’s new Governor General David Johnston about what’s expected from him in Ottawa for Hallowe’en? He was only sworn in as GG on October 1, and there are certainly a lot of files to cover, but still — he should know!

Every year on October 31, “trick or treaters” of all ages are welcome to visit Rideau Hall – the home and workplace of every Governor General since Confederation — and are greeted by staff (and, in past years, the Governor General herself!) with various goodies! I’ve heard full-size chocolate bars are often the treat of choice.

In fact, just across the street at 24 Sussex Drive, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his family usually distribute candy as well.

Happy Hallowe’en!

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Casino du Lac-LeamyOntario

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