Lean in and be educated, or sit back and be entertained, with virtual tours and performances from Ottawa, a city packed with museums and artistic culture.
Ottawa is home to most of Canada’s national museums and countless other historic sites and attractions, many of which offer virtual tours. Here are a few highlights:
- Parliament of Canada’s House of Commons to learn about Canada’s government while Centre Block undergoes several years of renovations;
- Rideau Hall, the official residence and workplace of the governor general of Canada;
- Take a video tour through the gardens and grounds of the National Gallery of Canada;
- Canadian History Hallat the Canadian Museum of History, to learn about Canadian history and experience from coast to coast to coast;
- Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum, the underground-bunker-turned-museum which was built to house senior members of government during the Cold War;
- Bytown Museum, which tells the history of Ottawa from rough and tumble lumber town to the country’s modern capital;
- The Canadian Museum of Nature released guided walkthrough tours on their YouTube channel to bring viewers to explore the museum, the Butterflies in Flight exhibition and permanent galleries;
- Take a virtual trip down the Rideau Canal with TVO’s program TRIPPING the Rideau Canal! This four hour, immersive “real-time” trip down the UNESCO World Heritage Site explores the beauty and history of the Rideau Canal as if you were sailing yourself;
- Just south of Ottawa, Watson’s Mill in Manotick brings visitors back to the 1860s. Check out their virtual tour to learn about flour production and the start of the town;
- See important works and objects from AY Jackson’s career in the Firestone Collection at the Ottawa Art Gallery’s virtual 3D tour;
- Brew Donkey, a craft brewery tour company in Ottawa, goes virtual to showcase local breweries and promote them during closures with their Virtual Brewery Tour Trips. They’ve also launched a directory of local breweries with information about delivery to help locals get craft beer while breweries are closed and a fun new Virtual Beer Hall.
Online exhibitions and activities
Numerous Ottawa attractions present online versions of their permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as special related activities that you can do at home. Visit their social media channels for updated content, or explore some of the digital programming options on their websites:
- Canadian Museum of History: online exhibitions and “Museum at Home” activities and resources;
- Canadian War Museum: online exhibitions and “Museum at Home” activities and resources;
- Ingenium museums (Canada Science and Technology Museum, Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum): Google Arts & Culture, apps and games, remote learning tools, and content on the Ingenium Channel;
- Virtual National Gallery of Canada brings all the gallery’s online exhibitions and activities together in one place, highlights various pieces from their collection, investigating the tradition of the salon, celebrating Canadian photography, and much more. Check out their exhibition playlist on YouTube for a closer look at current and past exhibits;
- Canadian Museum of Nature has fun games and lessons and colouring pages;
- Virtual Museum of Canada: Canada-wide collection of digital museum and heritage experiences;
- Check out the fun colouring pages and jigsaw puzzles offered by the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum;
- Learn about the Canadian economy with lesson plans, activities, and more from the Bank of Canada Museum;
- The Ottawa International Airport has fun, kid-friendly content available online including kids’ quizzes about airports and airplanes, videos, and more;
- CFL team the Ottawa REDBLACKS keep young fans happy with a kid’s activity pack including mazes, colouring pages, and more;
- The Isolation Museum is an interesting complement to Ottawa’s museum scene – it exists to foster contact and connection through the documentation of stories of real experiences during COVID-19;
- The Bytown Museum offers puzzles and crafts for Bytown Crafts at Home;
- Local escape room company Escape Manor launched a new online escape experience called Taken: The Swiss Account for small groups to be played over online videoconference software.
- Party bike Thursty Pedaler takes their experience online, facilitating fun games and trivia as a new way to hang out and connect;
- C’est Bon Cooking now offers virtual classes, either privately or in a group, focusing on various ingredients like seafood, poultry, vegetables, and more.
- The Ottawa Senators present a live Sens Power Hour, three mornings a week until Saturday, June 6. This virtual boot camp aimed at helping fans stay fit and learn about exercises that can help them improve their hockey game and personal fitness goals.
- The National Arts Centre, Canada’s home for performing arts located in downtown Ottawa, brings the arts online in a new way with their #CanadaPerforms series, highlighting Canadian artists during livestream concerts, offered most days.
- Ottawa’s oldest tavern—the Château Lafayette—dates back to 1849 and normally offers some great live music options. On Facebook, catch Bluesman John Carroll Wednesdays starting at 9:00pm Eastern time and Lucky Ron continues his weekly-since-1986 Saturday afternoon country-tinged shows starting at 5:00pm Eastern time.
- Support Ontario artists by watching living room concerts at Music Together, presented by Ontario Live.
- The iconic Canadian Tulip Festival, originally set to wrap up on May 18, 2020, has been extended! The annual festival celebrates virtually this year by moving all of its performances, programming, and public participation elements online to their website, TulipTVTulipe YouTube channel, and official Canadian Tulip Festival social media. Enjoy virtual garden tours, innovative online history tools, reimagined Dutch fairy tales, contests, and more… even a special Ottawa Tourism Tulip Webcam to check on the status of the blooms from your home!
- The Ottawa Writers Festival hosts virtual events this spring.
- The Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival (June 18-21, 2020) will move to online programming June 1-30, 2020 in celebration of National Indigenous History Month.
- Capital Pride will move their annual celebration of the city’s 2SLGBTQ+ community online, August 21-30, 2020.