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Ottawa

Ottawa’s Top Toy Stores

By Chris Lackner

“Where does he get those wonderful toys?” It‘s one of Jack Nicholson’s signature Joker lines from 1989’s Batman. In Ottawa, we know the answer: our unique collection of locally owned toy stores, which is probably the envy of Santa’s elves.

Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s

Mrs. Tiggywinkles in Ottawa

Mrs. Tiggywinkles in Ottawa

Since opening their first store in 1977, this home-grown chain has showcased well-made, creative toys that spark the imagination. Classic products are found alongside new, innovative playthings — like a glitter, snowglobe-making kit. “We hear over and over again [that parents] are trying to get kids away from their screens,” says Eira MacDonell, general manager of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s, which has five stores in Ottawa. “They want more play value and interaction.” Puzzles, board games and even new versions of the Rubik’s Cube have seen a popular resurgence, she says. “We sell probably 12 different varieties of Rubik’s-type challenge.” These toys are not only for the young, but also for the young at heart. Locations include The Glebe, Bayshore Shopping Centre and Rideau Shopping Centre.

Rideau Centre, 50 Rideau St., 613-230-8081, mrstiggywinkles.ca

My Toy Shop

Owner Claire Kerr houses trendy toy lines such as Shopkins and Minecraft, but the independent Manotick store is also a treasure trove of items shoppers won’t find anywhere else — from a Rocking Donkey to a Grow n’ Glow Terrarium. Their laudable goal is a combination of unique toys, award winners, latest fads and old favourites. It’s worth the 30-minute drive (from downtown) to this toy oasis. The charming, rural community of Manotick is also home to Watson’s Mill, Ottawa’s only working museum.

1136 Tighe St., Manotick, 613-491-8697, mytoyshop.ca

Tag Along Toys

Tag Along Toys in Ottawa

Tag Along Toys in Ottawa

Patti Taggart’s stores promise allegiance to brands “you know you can trust” — e.g. Lamaze, Alex and Schleich — and dynamic customer service, including gift-wrapping and online ordering. From baby toys to puzzles, and musical toys to outdoor playthings, gift hunters will find plenty of options to tag. You’ll discover things you never imagined, from a straw building kit (straw fort, anyone?) to the Macramé Terrarium: “We can’t keep it in stock. Children look after it, hang it in their bedroom or anywhere in the house. Just add water and watch it grow.” Grandparents get a 20 percent discount on the last Thursday of every month, while teachers receive 10 percent any time. 

Signature Centre, 499 Terry Fox Dr., Kanata, 613-270-8697; Blue Heron Mall, 1500 Bank Street, 613-738-8697, tagalongtoys.ca

Playvalue Toys

Ravensburger counts itself among this store’s popular brands of games and puzzles: “Puzzles are huge right now,” Jones explains. “It’s something that’s growing. It’s a nice family hobby because people can work together. Scientific research shows that puzzles are good for both sides of the brain — from kids to the elderly. Last year, Star Wars LEGO was out of this world popular. With the new movie Rogue One due in theatres Dec. 16, this Christmas will likely be no different. Janet Jones, manager and co-owner of Playvalue Toys, explains LEGO’s eternal appeal: “They have gone into so many different themes that capture different interests and the imagination.” May the Force be with you, shoppers.

130 David Manchester Road, 613-722-0175, playvaluetoys.com

MyToyShop_Where-Ottawa

Reptiles invade the Canadian Museum of Nature

By Chris Lackner

Get your close-up with a chameleon and gaboon viper at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Reptiles is an interactive exhibit that is part zoo, and part natural history presentation. It includes live animals such as colourful lizards, exotic turtles and deadly snakes. They’ll be slithering and scaling their way through the museum until April 8, 2017.

To peel back the layers on Reptiles, we spoke to Chad Peeling, operations manager for Reptiland in Pennsylvania, which tours the show that has invaded Ottawa:

This snake-necked turtle is part of Reptiles at the Canadian Museum of Nature

This snake-necked turtle is part of Reptiles at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Q: What will surprise visitors?

A: People are often surprised at how truly beautiful reptiles are. They have suffered a stigma for so long that I think the intricate shapes, textures, colours, and adaptations of these animals are often overlooked.

This Red Spitting Cobra is part of Reptiles at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

This Red Spitting Cobra is part of Reptiles at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Q: Why is this exhibit important?

A: Reptiles, particularly snakes, are among the most feared and misunderstood creatures — but they are important members of the living communities on which we depend. In a human-dominated world, I think it’s important for us to stay connected with nature. This exhibition offers an up-close look at this important group of animals.

Q: What are your favourite aspects of  the exhibition, and what are your favourite reptiles?

A: I love the interactivity of this exhibit. It really offers the best of zoo and natural history museum presentations. It’s tough for me to pick one favourite animal, but I am in awe of the gaboon viper — it’s truly beautiful and deadly.

This Gila Monster is part of Reptiles at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

This Gila Monster is part of Reptiles at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Q: The chameleon will be fascinating for many visitors. What’s one thing about chameleons that will surprise people?

A: Chameleons are specialist predators and their projectile tongue is one of the most bizarre adaptations for catching insects at a distance. It’s remarkable that these otherwise slow-moving lizards can nab a moth or katydid (AKA cricket). The turret-like eyes allow chameleons to look in two completely different directions at once, but when focused on the same prey they provide exceptional depth perception.

A chameleon shows his colours at Reptiles at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

A chameleon shows his colours at Reptiles at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Q: What would happen to a chameleon if he was dropped off in a fall forest amidst the foliage of reds, oranges and yellows?

A: Although chameleons are able to change colour, most do so as an expression of mood rather than an attempt to blend in. If a panther chameleon was dropped off at the peak of fall foliage colours it might well turn red with stress, but it would also die quickly in the cool temperatures.

Ottawa Spirits Guide: from Caspers to Cocktails

By Chris Lackner

Ottawa will leave you haunted — both by spirits that say boo, and the ones better served in a glass over ice. From ghostly restaurants and museums, to spirited cocktails and whisky-soaked welcomes, we showcase how the capital will leave you screaming for more tricks and treats.

Ottawa's Haunted Walks.

Ottawa’s Haunted Walks.

SPOOKS

“When most people think about Ottawa today, they think about a safe and beautiful capital city,” explains Jim Dean, creative director of Haunted Walks. “However, many are unaware that ByTown, the first name of the city, was once considered to be one of the most dangerous places in North America. The gang warfare between the rival English, French, Irish and Scottish groups, contributed to significant violence, murder and riots in the city streets. The construction process of the Rideau Canal, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also claimed the lives of close to 1,000 workers along its banks. With such a dark and deadly past, Ottawa certainly has all the elements to be one of Canada’s most haunted cities.” On that chilly note…

APPETIZERS & APPARITIONS

Beckta restaurant is one of the city's oldest haunted haunts.

Beckta restaurant is one of the city’s oldest haunted haunts.

Beckta: This restaurant serves up a famous ghost, heritage architecture, and a tantalizing menu — making it the perfect haunt for the living and the dead. The previous long-time tenant, Friday’s Roast Beef House, could have inserted the word Haunted into its official name. Dr. James Alexander Grant built the three-storey masterpiece in 1875, practiced his craft onsite, and was even rumoured to maintain a morgue in his basement. Today, the only surgery being done in the old Grant House is by talented sous chefs. Owner Stephen Beckta discusses his restaurant’s famous phantom:

Q: Is Beckta really haunted?

Most of the stories come from before Beckta moved in. They involved seeing a figure in the window or staff hearing coughing (Dr. Grant was both asthmatic and loved to smoke cigars). When we took occupancy, I left a glass of champagne on the mantle in an heirloom Grant family glass. It was partially gone (thenext morning) and we’ve been haunting free ever since, so (Dr. Grant) likes us in his space… One time we had a problem with lights flickering and we thought it might be  the ghost, but it turned out our dimmer switch was faulty.

Q: What signature drink would you serve Dr. Grant?

I’d offer him a smoky cocktail, like our Smoked Butter (brown butter bourbon, vermouth, black soochong, cinnamon, mole).

The Courtyard Restaurant

The Courtyard Restaurant

The Courtyard Restaurant: Located in the ByWard Market’s Clarendon Court, a cobblestoned hotspot for ghostly activity, the building is said to be haunted by Mrs. Evans, a woman that reportedly died during an 1872 fire when the site was an inn.

Cynthia Verboven, senior events coordinator:

Over the 36 years of The Courtyard’s history, few privileged staff have had the opportunity to encounter Mrs. Evans, our resident ghost. One employee, while burning the midnight oil, reported seeing a ghostly apparition standing next to the third window of the Loft Room on the second floor. Others have reported experiencing extreme chills and an overwhelming sensation to flee the building, or the sound of tinkling glasses when left alone in the dining room. Some have even seen saltshakers move swiftly on their own across the tables!

OTHERWORDLY TOURIST DESTINATIONS

The Chateau Laurier.

The Chateau Laurier.

Château Laurier: Railway executive Charles Melville died on the Titanic en route to the grand opening of the landmark hotel, located adjacent to Parliament. He never got to see the French-Gothic style building he commissioned in action, and his name has been linked to supernatural phenomenon — reported both by famous guests and staff — ever since. “It would make sense that he believed in this project so much, that he was so passionate for it, that he would want to see it through,” explains Creepy Capital author Mark Leslie.

Mackenzie King Estate

Mackenzie King Estate

William Lyon Mackenzie King: The specter of the former prime minister, and avowed spiritualist, haunts two famous buildings open to the public. He inherited Laurier House, and is said to have conducted séances onsite with everyone from his mother and dog to famous personalities like Leonardo da Vinci and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The ghost of Mackenzie King himself is associated with his Gatineau Park retreat, Mackenzie King Estate, where Leslie’s book describes sightings of a glowing, spectral figure. It plays host during Fall Rhapsody from October 1 until October 16, when its museum and cottages close for the season.

Juan Sanchez, site manager of Laurier House: 

Every summer at least one of our employees has some supernatural experience. The sound of someone sneezing when no one was around, doors opening when they were thought to be locked, objects being moved when no one has been in the house. This summer, we have been experiencing strange events with our alarm system. William Lyon Mackenzie King was a spiritualist and owned a crystal ball. Of course, this is very valuable, so it is hooked up to its own alarm system. For a few weeks in June, the alarm was being triggered in the middle of the night. On several occasions, the alarm company was called, the ball was inspected and nothing was detected. They would leave ensuring us that the matter had been fixed, the next day the same thing would happen. Perhaps the spirits were trying to get in touch with us!

SPIRITED RETREATS

Ottawa's old jail is now a haunted hostel.

Ottawa’s old jail is now a haunted hostel.

Old Ottawa Jail (now the Ottawa Jail Hostel): “The Jail is recognized as one of the most haunted buildings in North America and new reports continue to come in,” says Haunted Walk’s Jim Dean. “Several years ago some newlyweds joined us on a tour of the old jail and took photos of each other inside some of the cells. After taking a photo of the husband, they noticed the face of another man with an old-fashioned haircut in the photo. The image is so clear that if it weren’t shot on a digital camera you would think it would have to be the result of a double-exposure.” 

MUSEUMS

The Museum of Nature

The Museum of Nature

Bytown Museum:  The museum, located alongside the Rideau Canal’s arresting locks just below our political hub, is the oldest — and one of the most haunted — buildings in the city. Eerie experiences range from the sound of footsteps on an empty staircase to objects seemingly moving of their own accord. Leslie suspects “some of the ghosts at the museum came from the spirits of those that died building the canal.”

Canadian Museum of Nature: Normal by day, Leslie says the site’s supernatural nature reveals itself at night. Security guards have reported unexplained sounds and activity — from cold spots on the fourth floor to elevators moving and doors opening of their own accord. He says one female employee reported seeing the faint outline of a man form in a mirror before passing through her body, and even daytime visitors have allegedly had the uncanny feeling of being watched. But it’s likely just another Casper; Leslie suggests the ghost could be that of original architect David Ewart. But given the ancient artifacts and relics that have been housed onsite over the years, who knows what forces may have tagged along with an exhibit? The museum’s castle-influenced design is practically a ghost welcome mat.

Dan Smythe, head of the museum’s media relations: 

Perhaps the spirit of Sir Wilfrid Laurier graces the museum. When the Parliament buildings burned in February 1916, Parliament moved into the museum for four years. Under Laurier’s leadership the museum was built; when he died on February 17, 1919, his body lay in state in the museum’s auditorium. An estimated 50,000 people passed by to pay their respects.

SPIRITS (THE HARD STUFF):

North-of-7-Where-Ottawa-Spirit-Guide

North of 7 Distillery’s spirited products.

North of 7 Distillery: The first batch of four-grain, bourbon-style whisky from the capital’s first-and-only distillery won’t be available until early 2017 (it needs to be aged for at least three years). Co-owner Greg Lipin promises a flavour with hints of “butterscotch ripple or caramel.” For now, visitors can buy their top-selling gin, vodka, rum and White Dog, a “fancy moonshine” – basically fresh whiskey off the still. Split Tree Cocktail Co.’s local cocktail mix is also sold onsite. Lipin is clear on which spirit he recommends pouring before seeking out Ottawa’s ghouls and goblins: “Our White Dog moonshine. It will give you liquid courage beforehand, and calm your nerves afterwards.”

TRICKS AND TREATS: SHOPPING & ATTRACTIONS

Saunder's Farm

Saunders Farm

Saunders Farm: Haunting Season (daytime, family-friendly activities opening September 26) and Fright Fest (night-time activities for adults and children, open weekends starting September 24) return to this farm in nearby Munster, Ont. Get your spook on with labyrinths, a Haunted Hayride, the Ghost Town stage show, the Barn of Terror, Camp Slaughter and a new spooky attraction opening in October. After fending off the phantoms, enjoy some farm fresh food.

Pumpkinferno

Pumpkinferno

Upper Canada Village lights up with Pumpkinferno from September 30 to October 30. You’ll feel haunted by the outdoor, nighttime exhibit of 7,000 handcrafted pieces of pumpkin art just inside the gates of the historic attraction. Illuminate your Halloween season with displays of scenes from exotic places and historic ages, forest animals and sea-born creatures, storybook heroes, mythical characters, cultural icons and more.

Wicked Wanda's. Credit: Pole Star Photography

Wicked Wanda’s. Credit: Pole Star Photography

Wicked Wanda’sLocated in the iconic Imperial Theatre, which was one of Canada’s major music venues in the 1980s, Wicked Wanda’s houses hundreds of hand-selected adult leisure products. Along with the popular brands of pleasure makers, you’ll find unique and custom items by local artisans and entrepreneurs. Wanda’s is also home to the Sensorium Erotic Gallery, Ottawa’s only erotic art space, which includes works by local, national, and international artists. The gallery, curated by artist-in-residence David Cation, is open during store hours. Not too sure about the tools of satisfaction? Don’t be shy — the knowledgeable staff have a passion for pleasure. 327 Bank St., 613-820-6032, 

Wunderkammer is the German word for “cabinet of curiosities,” and this shop certainly lives up to its name with its whimsical, one-of-a-kind products. You’ll even meet a 100-year-old doll that stands in a glass jar and acts as store security. Vintage furniture, animal skulls, and walls covered in sassy, out-there artwork give the location character. Among the glass cases full of jewellery — including Frug, a line created by owners Tamara Steinborn and Nathan Dubo — you’ll also find stationery, handbags, art, and home décor. The owners say their most magical items are found in one of their house jewellery lines: Tamara Steinborn Jewellery. “We launched the line on Halloween 2015 and it plays on dark and mystical themes from mythology and Wiccan lore.” 234 Dalhousie St., 613-860-3510, Facebook @wunderkammerboutique

Capital Cocktail Guide: Ottawa On Ice

By Chris Lackner

Get in the spirits. Ottawa has a thriving cocktail scene.

Sure, it may be a government town. But it works hard and plays hard. We outlines the hotspots to indulge in colourful, creative cocktails:

Union 613

Union 613

CENTRETOWN

Union 613: Their seasonal cocktail list — starring homemade syrups and infusions — is so good it should be illegal. Speaking of, visit their eccentric basement speakeasy, but don’t prohibit yourself to one drink. El Gringo and This Is Not A Caesar are great starters. 315 Somerset St. W., union613.ca

LITTLE ITALY

two six {ate}: Nobody does an Old Fashioned better. Have three and you’ll be cheering the restaurant’s name, and getting dirty looks form other customers. 268 Preston St., twosixate.com

The Moonroom: Sip artisan cocktails to your heart’s content at one of the city’s most cozy, romantic bars. This is the hidden gem you’ll tell your friends about when you get home. Vampires and werewolves welcome. 442 Preston Street, 613-231-2525

Moonroom.

The Moonroom’s Manhattan

BYWARD MARKET + DOWNTOWN RIDEAU

Hooch Bourbon House: More than 25 kinds of bourbon and a biblical cocktail menu that includes original fare like the Jalapeno Spiked Mint Julep and Caesar Hoochgustus. In order to walk straight, pair your drinks with mouth-watering, southern-flavoured food. 180 Rideau St., hoochbourbon.ca

Atari: They serve a three-tier layer of 24 creatively-named cocktails at $8, $10 or $14. Only here can you claim to have had a drink with Zelda, Jack Sparrow and Mary Poppins. 297 Dalhousie Street, atariottawa.com

HOOCH-WEB

Hooch’s Old Fashioned

The Albion Rooms: Their Market Shrub Sour and ByWard Batida — which pairs muddled blackberries and blueberries with black rum and brandy cream — will help you feel comfortably at home in the ByWard Market. Or step into the Canadian north with the Yukon, the Albion’s take on the classic Alaska cocktail. 33 Nicholas St., thealbionrooms.com

The Moscow Tea Room: Inspired by vodka and Russian culture, their cocktail menu includes playful drinks like the Sharapova (citrus, raspberry and lemon grass) and White Russian Tea, and the mysterious Lady in Red. 527 Sussex Drive, moscowtearoom.com

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two six {ate}’s cocktail Dr. Greenthumb

WELLINGTON WEST

Hintonburg Public House: Don’t be fooled. This hipster haven is about more than craft beer. Their monthly cocktail menu is always full of delightful surprises. After a summer that starred the likes of Basil Margarita and Strawberry Orange Mimosa, just imagine autumn’s treats. 1020 Wellington St W, hintonburgpublichouse.ca

KANATA

Aperitivo: This is the place to get spirited before an Ottawa Senators game. Amidst a sea of Kanata chain restaurants, Aperitivo is an oasis for fine food, and handcrafted cocktails. Although their small menu is always changing, the crowd-pleasing Fish Tacos and the Hibiscus Sour cocktail have been staples since they opened. For something truly otherworldly, sample their unique sweet and spicy Verdita Margarita. 655 Kanata Avenue, Unit L2, 613-592-0004, aperitivo.ca

web-tall-last-one

two six {ate}’s Myrtle Thatcher’s Cup.

 

Ottawa’s Best BBQ: Hot off the grill

By Chris Lackner

You can’t bring your BBQ with you to Ottawa, so seek out these culinary delights that sizzle off the grill. Bet it grilled or smoked, here is our guide to the capital’s best BBQ food:

BBQ

Fatboys Southern Smokehouse: Southern hospitality with a biker ambience in the ByWard Market. fatboys.ca

Bytown Bayou: Smoke up at this gourmet BBQ food truck. bytownbayou.ca

Rosie’s Southern Kitchen & Bar in The Glebe.

Rosie’s Southern Kitchen & Bar in The Glebe.

Rosie’s Southern Kitchen & Bar: Ribs, steak, catfish and more in The Glebe, one of Ottawa’s trendiest neighbourhoods. rosiesonbank.ca

Foolish Chicken: Finger-lickin’ chicken and ribs (and cheesecake) in a casual Hintonburg café. foolishchicken.ca

Thankfully for your taste buds, Ottawa's Foolish Chicken is anything but foolish.

Thankfully for your taste buds, Ottawa’s Foolish Chicken is anything but foolish.

Little Red Shack BBQ: A saucy food shack that’s worth the drive to Stittsville. littleredshackbbq.com

SmoQue Shack: Their philosophy is, “Food comes first… licking the plate comes after.” Put it to the test by digging into everything from pulled pork, brisket and ribs to Jamaican jerk and BBQ chicken. Spotlighted on The Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here, this ByWard Market gem knows how to work a grill and a smoker. The coffee BBQ sauce leads a pack of nine saucy options; the Shack’s hefty combo platters are meant to be shared, and will turn the crowd at your table into regular Fred Flintstones. smoqueshack.com

Smoque Shack in Ottawa's ByWard Market.

Smoque Shack in Ottawa’s ByWard Market.

Burgers

Hintonburger: Ottawa’s iconic fast-food burger. Fast. Fresh. Local. Handmade. hintonburger.ca

Bite Burger House: Boutique burgers! Down your grilled goodies with specialty cocktails and fine wines. biteburgerhouse.com

Burgers n’ Fries Forever: Casual Bank Street burger joint with great shakes. burgersnfriesforever.com

The Works in Ottawa.

The Works in Ottawa.

The Works: Ottawa’s iconic gourmet burger is served at seven locations, but The Glebe restaurant is the most central. worksburger.com

Chez Lucien: One of the city’s best unsung pubs & best burgers (Editor’s Pick: the Bourgeois with brie and roasted pear) 137 Murray St.

Ottawa’s Best Beaches: Enter the Capital’s Waterworld

By Chris Lackner

Ottawa may not be a coastal city, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a beach town.

From the pristine lakes of Gatineau Park to the oft overlooked Ottawa and Rideau Rivers, life’s a beach in the National Capital Region. So take a refreshing dip with our guide to Ottawa-Gatineau’s top beaches:

Lac Philippe beach in Gatineau Park.

Lac Philippe beach in Gatineau Park.

GATINEAU PARK 

Philippe Lake: Choose between Breton Beach and Parent Beach, or pack a tent; Smith Beach is for campers only.

Meech Lake: This lake’s advantage is proximity to Ottawa. It’s idyllic waters are only a 30-minute drive without traffic (beat that Toronto!). O’Brien Beach is the family-friendly option, while Blanchet Beach is more remote and serene.

La Pêche Beach: Worth it for the longer, scenic drive through the park. Canoe and kayak rentals are available at Pêche (and at Philippe); escape the beach crowds out on the open water.

Order a cold beverage on the patio at Ottawa's Westboro Beach.

Order a cold beverage on the patio at Ottawa’s Westboro Beach.

CITY BEACHES

Westboro Beach: Located in the lively Westboro neighbourhood, the siren song of this scenic beach is bolstered by live patio music (Thursday through Sunday) and cold drinks (daily) on a café patio.

Mooney’s Bay Beach: This Rideau River beach entices with sandy shores and picturesque volleyball courts that just happen to play host to HOPE Volleyball Summerfest (July 16), the largest one-day recreational volleyball event in the world. 

Volleyball is one of the many activities on Mooney's Bay beach.

Volleyball is one of the many activities on Mooney’s Bay beach.

Britannia Beach: Come for the picnic tables and shaded, mature trees, stay to watch the windsurfing at this west-end gem. Worth the drive, but Britannia Park is also accessible via one of the capital’s most beautiful bike paths.

Leamy Lake Beach in Gatineau.

Leamy Lake Beach in Gatineau.

Leamy Lake Park Beach: This urban beach in Gatineau feels timeless — a throwback to the Leave it to Beaver era. It’s like heading to “the old swimming hole”… only that hole is located in a 174-hectare urban park.

Parc Moussette Beach: This small, sandy beach park is found in west Gatineau, located just across the Ottawa River. The little known hideaway features a great playground, plenty of shade, and often hosts DJs on weekend afternoons.

Petrie Island Beach: Ottawa’s newest beach is home to spellbinding views of the Ottawa River. Work up some sweat before the trip on the island’s seven kilometres of nature trails.

For a full list of local beaches and their rules and regulations, visit ottawa.ca and canadascapital.gc.ca.

Mother’s Day Brunch: 6 Best Spots to Kick-Start Mother’s Day in Ottawa

Mothers Day Ottawa Brunch

Mother’s Day in Ottawa: how to spoil mom on May 8th (Photo: Stacy Spensley)

Time’s running out to book a great table for Mother’s Day brunch in Ottawa. Here, we’ve compiled some of our top picks for the best places to spoil mom this Mother’s Day in Ottawa (and beyond!).

See the list of top brunches on Mother’s Day in Ottawa »

Read more…

Ottawa’s Best Patios

By Chris Lackner

Find your place in the sun. Our guide to Ottawa’s best patios covers your best bets for sun, suds, sangria, vino and vitamin D.

The Social patio in the ByWard Market's Clarendon Court. Courtesy: Ottawa Tourism.

The Social patio in the ByWard Market’s Clarendon Court. Courtesy: Ottawa Tourism.

ByWard Market

Clarendon Court: Secluded and cobblestone, its four restaurant patios feel European; discover the magic behind the shops on Sussex Drive, between George and York Streets, including spots like The Social and Courtyard Restaurant. (The Social537 Sussex Dr., Courtyard Restaurant: 21 George St.)

Earl of Sussex Pub: The best sun and sud combo in the market. 431 Sussex Dr.

La Terrasse: This open-air, summer restaurant offers stunning views of the Rideau Canal and Parliament. Their extensive wine and cocktail list pair well with the sun. Try a “Colonel By” Mojito. He would have wanted it that way. Located in Fairmont Chateau Laurier, even the sunbeams feel more elegant at this seasonal patio. 1 Rideau St.

Earl of Sussex patio.

Earl of Sussex patio.

The Highlander Pub: A place to people watch with eyes on the market’s pedestrian traffic. 115 Rideau St.

Cornerstone Bar and Grill: This market hotspot is a place to be seen. 92 Clarence St.

Murray Street: This leafy patio screams romance. And the charcuterie, cheese boards and wine list will only help matters. 110 Murray St.

Métropolitain Brasserie: Steps away from the Chateau Laurier and Parliament. Grab a table or an outdoor sofa. 700 Sussex Dr.

La Terrasse patio at Chateau Laurier. Courtesy Ottawa Tourism.

La Terrasse patio at Chateau Laurier. Courtesy Ottawa Tourism.

Elgin and Sparks Streets

D’Arcy McGee’s: Spot Ottawa’s who’s who at this upscale watering hole named after a Father of Confederation44 Sparks St.

Fox and Feather: Terrific topside patio with a bird’s-eye view of the bustling Elgin strip. 283 Elgin St.

Pancho Villa: Pancho’s margaritas, daiquiris, sangrias and pina coladas are as big in size as they are in flavour. It might not be Cancún, but close your eyes on the sunny patio and it will feel mighty close. 361 Elgin St.

Pancho Villa's patio.

Pancho Villa’s patio.

The Glebe

Feleena’s Mexican Cantina: Sangria, anyone? 742 Bank St.

Irene’s Pub: Discover the hidden courtyard patio at this live music hotspot. 885 Bank St.

Little Italy

Pub Italia: Ireland enjoys a bit of Italy’s sun. 434 Preston St.

Pub Italia patio.

Pub Italia patio.

Westboro/Hintonburg

Tennessy Willems: Small but sublime. Come for the pizza, stay for the sunshine. 1082 Wellington St W.

Churchills: P is for patio… and Public House. 356 Richmond Rd.

Water View

Canal Ritz patio on the Rideau Canal.

Canal Ritz patio on the Rideau Canal.

Dow’s Lake: Three restaurant patios overlook the lake’s busy birds and boaters. Choose your own adventure between Malone’s Lakeside Grill, Baja Grill and Lago1001 Queen Elizabeth Dr.

Canal Ritz: This classy canal-side gem is boat traffic central. 375 Queen Elizabeth Dr.

Mill Street Brew Pub: Located near the Canadian War Museum on LeBreton Flats, this historic gristmill turned brewpub is also the perfect stop along the Ottawa River bike path. 555 Wellington St. 

Insider’s Scoop: Gold Rush! at Canadian Museum of History

By Chris Lackner

The Gold Rush! has come to Ottawa.

Haida box by Bill Reid, 1971. Courtesy Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Haida box by Bill Reid, 1971. Courtesy Royal BC Museum and Archives.

While you can’t get rich, you can check out the shiny new exhibit, Gold Rush! El Dorado in British Columbia, at the Canadian Museum of History, April 8 to January 2017.

For an Insider’s Scoop, we talked to John Willis, curator of economic history at the museum:

Q: What will surprise visitors about this exhibit?

A: The fact that such a gold rush, of massive proportions, occurred in Canada, on its West Coast, 50 years before the Klondike.

The fact that some were willing to travel so far in order to get the gold: some trekked overland the entire distance from (central) Canada; others came thousands of miles from Europe, China, and elsewhere in Eastern Canada (the Maritimes for example).

The distances that have to be travelled within B.C. on terrain that is both rugged and spectacular (this comes out in the videos) this will surprise and impress visitors.

The fact that one could make a living not by prospecting for gold but by selling to and living off those mining the gold.

town-web

This photo depicts the main street of Barkerville just before the 1868 fire that destroyed the town. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Q. Why is this exhibit important? 

A: First, it establishes the importance of the 1858 and 1862 gold rushes in the making of modern B.C. history. The era transformed indigenous societies and overturned the traditional fur economy of the Hudson Bay Company. In its wake came a new type of society devoted to exploiting land, natural resources, farmland; fostering trade and building cities. Through this exhibition the society of B.C. is trying to come to terms with its history. This includes the admission tragic errors made in the past vis-à-vis indigenous nations.

Second, the exhibit shows the importance of the larger Pacific sphere to the making of B.C. history especially in the gold rush era. What happened in California, Australia and Hong Kong had considerable bearing on how B.C. got roped into this gold rush economy.

Third, the exhibit touches on the quirks of human behaviour in a gold-rush setting. Men and women (but mainly men) travel by the tens of thousands to one destination or another intending to make it rich quick by mining the gold.  They are carried away by an enthusiasm for the riches promised by gold.  Men suffer from gold fever that sets them on a path to the gold fields, however distant. That path was referred in the newspaper of the day as a “highway to insanity.” As a collective mania, the psychology of gold fever does resemble the kind of up and down and sometimes foolish human behaviour associated with the stock market.

Wheel and flumes at the Davies claim on William’s Creek, 1867. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Wheel and flumes at the Davies claim on William’s Creek, 1867.
Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Q: What are your favourite aspects of, or artifacts from, the exhibition?

A. I enjoy seeing the life size version of the B.C. Express company stagecoach that dates from the era and was used on the Cariboo Road. The vehicle is in excellent shape, it was lovingly restored in the late 1980s.  And it can’t help but conjure up images of the old west.  coachThe freight saddle or aparejo positioned in a display window opposite the stage coach belonged to a local hero, French-born Jean Caux, nicknamed Cataline.  It is interesting for it reminds us of the challenges of getting freight into and out of the rugged and mountainous B. C. interior.

There is an explicit recognition of things Chinese: a picture of Hong Kong harbour full of ships circa 1860, and later in the exhibition a display of exquisite Chinese artifacts (fan, game pieces, pipe, mud-treated silk garments, shoes etc.).

Turnagain Nugget is the largest existing gold nugget ever found in British Columbia: it weighs 1,642 grams (52 troy onces) and is approximately 4.2 cm high, 18.1 cm wide and 9.2 cm deep. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archive.

Turnagain Nugget is the largest existing gold nugget ever found in British Columbia: it weighs 1,642 grams (52 troy onces) and is approximately 4.2 cm high, 18.1 cm wide and 9.2 cm deep. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archive.

A huge and engaging painting,  Slim Jim or the Parson Takes the Pot,  shows a group of men playing a gambling game of cards. A probable con-man disguised as a priest has surprised his fellow players by winning the hand. The picture reminds us that all forms of gambling were popular in gold-rush communities, where there were men (only) and money a plenty.

The painting is so big that the box in which it came barely fits, height-wise, in the corridor of our museum

Finally the Pemberton dress, a beautiful silk-dress, with its budding hoop skirt and delicate engagements (frills that go up the sleeves), which dates from the B.C. gold-rush era, reminds us that women were present in this society — as entrepreneurs, supporters of culture, as instigators of all kinds of business and community activities. The theme is well carried in the book by New Perspectives on the Gold Rush; as well as in the exhibition catalogue: Gold Rush! El Dorado in British Columbia.

Where can you hear Ottawa’s JUNO Award nominees?

Ottawa’s 2016 JUNO Award nominees are as diverse as the National Capital Region, from a world-music sensation  to a classical pianist.

We shine a spotlight on our Top 3. While none of these homegrown artists reached the podium at JUNO Weekend in Calgary, they will all be reaching a stage in Ottawa, or a nearby city, this spring.

Case and point, The Souljazz Orchestra, nominated for top World Music Album, are headlining Westfest on Saturday, June 4. One of Ottawa’s major spring festivals, Westfest is free and moves to Laroche Park this year. For a preview of the band’s international rhythms:

Ottawa-born indie songwriter Kalle Matson contended for Video of the Year with his song “Avalanche.” While not scheduled to play the capital, his next nearby show will be in Kingston on May 11. Toronto cinematographer Philip Sportel helped Matson recreate 35 classic album covers for their heralded video, which lost to Adele’s “Hello,” directed by Canadian Xavier Dolan. Fall for “Avalanche” yourself:

Meanwhile, Classical Album of the Year nominee, pianist Angela Hewitt, recently played with her hometown NAC Orchestra on March 22, and will be touring North America and the world this summer. But those heading to Toronto on April 13-14 can see her perform one of two shows with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Here Hewitt discusses her recording of Mozart with the NAC in 2003:

Indulge: His, Hers, Ours

BY NICOLINA LEONE

Le Nordik

In the hot and cold baths at Nordik Spa-Nature, you’ll float away into a world of relaxation.

Even on vacation, it can be hard to shake the busy urban lifestyle. So many things to see, to do, to try, to eat, to buy. We forget the need to unwind, to enjoy a quiet afternoon, to pamper ourselves. Luckily, many establishments in Ottawa offer an opportunity to do exactly that. Whether you want to glam up for a night out or enjoy a relaxing massage — be it alone, with friends, or your loved one — don’t forget to make time for the most important part of your stay: you. 

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A Bug’s Life at the Canadian Museum of Nature

Beautiful photographs of beetles are on display at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Beautiful photographs of beetles are on display at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Beetles: they’re tiny, diverse, and stunningly beautiful. Their patterns and colours change from one carapace to the next, and Beetles Close-Up gives visitors a detailed look at this phenomenon through 18 large-scale photographs of specimens from the Canadian Museum of Nature’s collection. Created by a museum entomologist, the photographs are so intricate it’s possible to see individual hairs on each beetle’s leg — hairs that help scientists determine which species a beetle belongs to. On display at the Canadian Museum of Nature until September 2016. —Amy Allen
•Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod St., 613-566-4700. nature.ca
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