In honour of the coming North American Leaders’ Summit – also known as the ‘Three Amigos’ Summit – we’ve come up with five authentically Ottawa Things the North American leaders (Trudeau, Obama and Nieto) should do together while they’re in Canada’s beautiful capital city. These activities are in addition to discussing important policies of course…
On June 29, 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hosting United States President Barack Obama and Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto in Ottawa. This is the first time such a summit has taken place in Canada’s Capital in 10 years!
But the last time President Obama visited Ottawa in February 2009, he stopped by French bakery Le Moulin de Provence to purchase a souvenir, red and white, maple leaf-shaped cookie. Almost instantly, this cookie became a hit and it is now known officially as the “Obama” cookie.
So in homage to this impromptu 2009 stop, we’ve come up with a few other activities the leaders can do together and… You can even take part in these unique Ottawa activities with your own amigos!
- Get a BeaverTail:
What visit to Canada’s Capital would be complete without a delicious, deep-fried BeaverTails pastry? Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market neighbourhood is where this beaver tail-shaped treat was born in 1978!
Trudeau and Obama – who have probably tried a BeaverTails pastry before – can take President Nieto to the BeaverTails stand at the corner of William Street and George Street. Various flavours are available such as Cinnamon and Sugar, Choco Banana, Oreo and Maple Butter, among others. “BeaverTails,” as they are known locally, are available at the ByWard Market-area stand year-round.
- Visit the National Gallery of Canada:
Located down Sussex Drive, just steps from Parliament Hill, the three amigos – or you and your amigos – can visit the National Gallery together. This is a great place to get a snapshot of Canada’s identity as a country through art.
One of Ottawa’s seven national museums, the National Gallery is one of Canada’s finest art museums and is the permanent home of the world’s most comprehensive collection of Canadian art, including Inuit and Aboriginal art. Here, the leaders can peruse many rooms filled with priceless tableaus, sculptures and artifacts that recount the tales of Canada’s history as well as its evolution.
Also, from the Gallery’s impressive glass-walled Grand Hall, the leaders can take in a fantastic view of Parliament Hill and the majestic Ottawa River. This is a great spot for a scenic Ottawa selfie!
*Special exhibit now on: Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (June 10 – Sept. 12, 2016)
- Visit the Bytown Museum and the Rideau Canal:
Located beside the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel, the Bytown Museum tells the tales of Ottawa’s darker past, before it became the sophisticated capital city it is today.
Here, in Ottawa’s oldest stone building, the leaders can learn about Ottawa’s rougher lumber town past, how the famous Rideau Canal – Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site – was built and more. For instance, did you know that a large part of the Rideau Canal was dug out by hand through the rugged Canadian wilderness? It’s true! Many French and Irish laborers used shovels to carve the now scenic waterway’s path.
Also, just outside the museum, the leaders can stand beside the Rideau Canal’s Ottawa Locks to watch boats come up from or go down to the Ottawa River. This is a popular activity for Ottawa visitors and locals alike. And one more interesting fact: Over the winter, from roughly January to late February or early March, the Rideau Canal freezes over to become the world’s largest skating rink!
*Special exhibit now on: Forged in Fire: The Building and Burning of Parliament (Jan. 29 – Oct. 31, 2016)
- Go Ottawa City Rafting:
Did you know that Ottawa is one of the only cities in the world where you can go whitewater rafting through the downtown core?
Located at just a 10 to 15-minute drive west of Ottawa’s downtown core, this unique rafting excursion leaves from the beautiful Britannia Beach and invites rafters aged five to 95 to bounce and float down the historic Ottawa River almost to the Canadian War Museum. Also, as this excursion features three low intensity Class I and II rapids, it is a great social activity.
The leaders – or again, you and your own amigos – can have fun bouncing through the rapids and then on the stretches of flat water, relaxing, catching up and taking in a bit of summer sunshine. Ottawa City Rafting’s rafts are equipped with quiet electric motors, so that guests don’t have to paddle the whole way down the river. This urban rafting company also brings a cooler along that’s filled with cold drinks, so everyone can stay cool and hydrated on the water. What a great way for three amigos to get to know each other better!
And here’s the best part of this 2.5 to three-hour trip; everyone will get amazing views of Ottawa’s downtown skyline and Parliament Hill’s iconic Peace Tower all along the way. So make sure to bring a camera!
- Go cycling:
Ottawa is lined with more than 170 kilometres (106 miles) of recreational pathways that are free of traffic and that go along scenic waterways including the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal. The three amigos – or you and your amigos – can simply rent a bike from VeloGO or RentABike and explore the city.
From Ottawa’s downtown core, the powerful trio or again, you and your own group, can opt to cycle west along the Rideau Canal to the beautiful Dows Lake. Or another great option is to cycle along the Ottawa River pathway. Starting at the Ottawa Locks, this lovely pathway stretches all the way to the Canadian War Museum and beyond. No matter what path the group may choose, there are lovely views and great photo ops all along the way!
Thinking of partaking in some or all of these activities yourself? Go for it. On June 29, we’ll be keeping an eye on our social media networks for a Trudeau, Obama and Nieto selfie, but you can also share your experiences with us. Keep us in the loop by using #MyOttawa on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!