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Ottawa

Westfest: 3 Things You Need to Know

By Chris Lackner

Welcome to Ottawa’s wild, wild Westfest. This multi-disciplinary, free festival (June 3-5) offers a hyperlocal lineup of cultural programming in Mechanicsville’s beautiful Laroche Park.

We got the insider’s scoop from Elaina Martin, founder and producer of Westfest:

Tara-Holloway

Tara Holloway performs at Westfest.

Q: What makes the festival special?

A: Westfest annually produces 100 per cent Canadian artistic content, and is multidiscipline in its focus, so literary arts, spoken word, dance, Indigenous art forms, media arts, performance art, etc…. Westfest is also inclusive of everyone and completely accessible, and we’re not talking washrooms here — we are FREE for everyone, and everyone is equal at Westfest!

Q: What will surprise visitors about the festival?

A: Visitors to Westfest always feel welcome. Our family atmosphere is felt on many levels — from staff to volunteers, to collaborators, everyone is inviting and friendly at Westfest!

Luther Wright and the Wrongs perform at Westfest.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most this year?

A: I am looking forward to spreading our wings like never before. Our inclusive and diverse programming is a highlight this year, from spoken word to drag queens, to gospel choirs on our main stage, to our new Indigenous Pavilion we’re building this year with traditional Indigenous artisans, businesses and food vendors… a true cultural extravaganza for the all. With our extended kid zone and family night — with puppet shows, magicians, storytellers and musical shows — there truly is something for everyone at Westfest!

The-Split

The Split perform at Westfest.


Where Ottawa’s Take:

Can’t Miss: The artisan and business zone, full of local shops from the neighbourhood and nearby Westboro. On Stage: Shake to the world beats of the Souljazz Orchestra (June 4) or be moved by local singer-songwriter Tara Holloway (June 5).

For the Kids: An extended kid zone with puppet shows, magicians, storytellers and musical shows; Westfest Fam Jam (June 3).

Local Wisdom: It’s free and draws visitors to one of the most
dynamic, thriving parts of the city. 

Star Trek Recruits at Canada Aviation and Space Museum

By Chris Lackner

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of… me.

All thanks to The Starfleet Academy Experience, an interactive exhibit making its world premiere at Ottawa’s Canada Aviation and Space Museum on May 13.

The immersive experience allows you to handle Star Trek gadgets, from a tricorder to a phaser. Case and point, watch me use a transporter below:

As the Star Trek franchise celebrates its 50th anniversary, Starfleet Academy asks visitors to play cadet. As part of a media preview, I enlisted — learning about Starfleet departments like engineering and communications before entering the deck of an “actual” starship. The Enterprise may had a five-year mission; here’s how my 60 minutes played out:

Communications — Klingon 101

Each section has an interactive component. My first test: to learn basic Klingon. My video instructor was a surly Klingon who tried to teach me multiple words, including “Heghlumeh qaq jajvam,” which means “today is a good day to die.” After each lesson, the program tested my pronunciation, and I’d receive a surly yell of “incorrect, try again!” from my agitated new friend. (So, I received an F in communications, but there’s hope for my marriage).

You can also take a species selfie. For example, this haunting photo is what I’d look like as an alien Ferengi:

Our writer is transformed by The Starfleet Academy Experience at Ottawa's Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

Our writer is transformed by The Starfleet Academy Experience at Ottawa’s Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

I held a tricorder unsteadily over the body of a mock Klingon patient. After the language debacle, I half expected the dummy to come to life and throttle me. Based on the scanner’s results, I was asked to make  a diagnosis — even though my patient had extra body parts (including eight heart chambers and two livers). I won’t spoil the fun, but let’s just say I was wrong twice before I got it right. Exhibit curator Erin Gregory assured me later that Klingon patients are notoriously “difficult.” Indeed.

Science — A Crash Course

The console in Science forces you to choose your own planetary adventure: In order to make an emergency landing, you have to pick a life-supporting crash pad for your crew. This is where my geekdom shone through, as I actually know Star Trek’s planet classification systems. My first pass!!!! “Humanoids can survive on this planet,” I’m told. I’m also informed that my crew survived until rescue by eating frozen plants, drinking melted snow and hunting. I’m sure they’ll thank me later.

The transporter simulation at The Starfleet Academy Experience at Ottawa's Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

The transporter simulation at The Starfleet Academy Experience at Ottawa’s Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

Engineering — Beam Me Up

Who hasn’t wanted to use a transporter to beam down to another planet? The exhibit’s spherical glass pods and video monitors almost bring the magic to life (as you can see in the video above). My only disappointment was finding myself still on Earth.

Bridge-Starfleet-Academy

The mock bridge at the Starfleet Academy Experience.

Navigation — “Engage!”

The section tests your ability to plot a course to a debris-clear “warp zone.” During my simulation, I managed to evade enemy ships, planets and giant asteroids — though I missed one planet by inches. Maybe I’d be better off in security?

Security — Set Your Phasers on Erratic

The Security zone is a place for video gamers to shine. The phaser simulation finds patrons pointing a phaser at a screen, and testing their marksmanship on moving, coloured targets. Some required a quick hit for destruction — others a prolonged attack. I scored 25, which could probably be bested by the average toddler. “Maybe security isn’t for you,” Gregory admits.

The Starfleet Academy Experience at Ottawa's Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

The Starfleet Academy Experience at Ottawa’s Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

Command — Red Alert, I Should Not Be a Captain

Finally, I sat on a “real” Starship bridge for a command simulation called “the Kobayashi Maru.” The scenario involves trying to rescue the 300-person crew of a critically-damaged Starfleet ship while your own is under attack by three Klingon vessels. Gregory describes it as “putting a captain in an impossible situation.” Tactics include evade, attack and rescue. I manage to save 10 people — and disable one enemy cruiser — before smoke rose from my hull and a massive fireball appeared on my screen. Thus ended my short-lived captaincy.

The Where editor's ship explodes during the command test at the Starfleet Academy Experience, located at Ottawa's Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

The Where editor’s ship explodes during the command test at the Starfleet Academy Experience, located at Ottawa’s Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

In each section, patrons can also take a quiz to determine their best role in Starfleet. It includes questions like, “You learn your new crewmate is an android, how does this make you feel?” My certificate of completion earmarked me for a medical career. Given my non-existent real-world math and science skills, Starfleet may want to consider raising its standards.

Starfleet-Academy-certificate-1

Starfleet-Academy-certificate-2

Overall, the exhibit offers enough to please Star Trek fans, casual observers and the curious. They can also check out memorabilia, from costumes and a life-sized photon torpedo to tribbles (trouble!) and phasers. There’s even the head of a Data android prototype from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to sit in the captain’s chair on the Enterprise? Then beam yourself up to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. The Starfleet Academy Experience runs to Sept. 5.

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…

Insider’s Scoop: Forged in Fire exhibit at Bytown Museum

By Chris Lackner

Parliament Hill was Forged in Fire.

Ottawa’s fiery past is explored in a new, historic exhibition at the Bytown Museum, located alongside the Rideau Canal’s arresting locks just below our political hub.

Reconstruction of Centre Block of Parliament showing surviving Parliamentary Library, 1916. Bytown Museum.

Reconstruction of Centre Block of Parliament showing surviving Parliamentary Library, 1916. Bytown Museum.

On the 100th anniversary of the 1916 burning of Canada’s Parliament, explore the mystery of its destruction – and the secrets of its resurrection. Forged in Fire: The Building and Burning of Parliament includes unique artifacts and images, including rare photos of Parliament’s construction. Who says politics is boring? Our capital was forged in drama and intrigue.

We spoke to Grant M. Vogl, Collections and Exhibitions Manager, for an insider’s scoop:

Q: What will surprise visitors about this exhibit?

A: I think people will be surprised to learn about the fire of West Block in 1897. Most Canadians would know the story of the fire of 1916. However, I’m certain that for many visitors, reading about and seeing original photos of the fire of 1897 will be something new. I’m also very excited that visitors will get to see some very rare photographs of the construction of the original Parliament Buildings from 1861.

Construction of Parliament Buildings, (south side of Centre Block), Ottawa, 1861. By Elihu Spencer, courtesy of Bytown Museum.

Construction of Parliament Buildings (south side of Centre Block), Ottawa, 1861. By Elihu Spencer, courtesy of Bytown Museum.

Q: Why is this exhibit important?  
A: As we reach the 100th anniversary of any occasion, such a key milestone, events such as the fire of 1916 start to move out of memory and into the realm of history. There are no more living witnesses to this event; much the same as with the First World War. Therefore, it is very important to continue to tell these stories, introduce the history to today’s generation and also to connect or re-connect with the descendants of those who witnessed the fire first hand who may remember stories surrounding it.

Fire of West Block of Parliament, 1897. Bytown Museum.

Fire of West Block of Parliament, 1897. Bytown Museum.

Q: What are your favourite artifacts from the exhibition?
A: My favourite artifact in the exhibition is also one of the smallest. It is a very rare, 3” x 3” albumen print depicting Parliament Hill, then known as Barrack Hill, taken from the Ottawa River in 1857. For most visitors, the Parliament Buildings are timeless, so to see a photograph of “the Hill” without those iconic buildings and instead Lt. Col. By’s military barracks, will seem strange. But it will also inform visitors about the history of the site before being chosen as the seat of government.

Parliament Building at Ottawa, 1862, newsprint, Bytown Museum.

Parliament Building at Ottawa, 1862, newsprint, Bytown Museum.

The exhibit continues to Oct. 31, 2016.

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 Social: 537 Sussex Dr.

Courtyard Restaurant: 21 George St.

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

431 Sussex Dr.

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: Even the sunbeams feel more elegant at this seasonal patio.

1 Rideau St.

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 Confederation.

44 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 Lago.

1001 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. 

Read more…

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
Map and reviews

Women’s Work at the Canadian War Museum

 

World War Women examines the contributions that women made to the war effort during both World Wars.

World War Women examines the contributions that women made to the war effort during both World Wars. (Photo: Library and Archives Canada, PA-108043)

Historically, men have been the ones fighting on the front lines, but that doesn’t mean women didn’t also play a role in global conflicts. In the First and Second World Wars, they sold stamps to raise money for the war effort, served as nurses in Europe, and worked in munitions and supply factories. The wars allowed them to prove their capabilities to themselves and to a society that tended to underestimate them. World War Women looks at some personal stories, including that of Molly Lamb Bobak, who served as a war artist during World War II, and Dorothy Linham, who won the coveted title of Miss War Worker in 1942. On at the Canadian War Museum until April 3. —Amy Allen
•Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Place, 1-800-555-5621. warmuseum.ca
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Blue Rodeo Gallops Into the Capital

Iconic Canadian band Blue Rodeo rolls into town on February 14. (Photo: Heather Pollock)

Iconic Canadian band Blue Rodeo rolls into town on February 14. (Photo: Heather Pollock)

FEB. 14 With a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, 12 Juno Awards to their name, and more than three million records sold worldwide, Blue Rodeo is without a doubt one of Canada’s most enduring bands. Their alt-country rock songs are unmistakable — songs like the melancholy “Try” and the foot-tapping “Till I Am Myself Again”, which propelled them to the top of the charts in the ‘80s and ‘90s. They stop in Ottawa at the Canadian Tire Centre as part of their cross-Canada tour. —Amy Allen
•Canadian Tire Centre, 1000 Palladium Dr., 613-599-0100. canadiantirecentre.com

Reworking the Classics: 2Cellos

More commonly known as 2Cellos, Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser put unique twists on classical and contemporary music.

More commonly known as 2Cellos, Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser put unique twists on classical and contemporary music.

FEB. 14 Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, the duo more commonly known as 2Cellos, met in their teens when they studied music in Croatia. At the time, they often competed against each other in music contests, and many saw them as rivals. But in 2011, when their paths crossed again after years of working in different cities, they decided to team up. Their cello version of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” went viral when they uploaded it to YouTube, and they’ve been selling out stadiums with their unique take on pop songs and classical music ever since. —Amy Allen
•National Arts Centre, Southam Hall, 53 Elgin St., 866-850-2787. nac-cna.ca
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