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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


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


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


The Moonroom’s Manhattan


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’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


two six {ate}’s cocktail Dr. Greenthumb


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


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


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


Capital Fall Colours: Ottawa autumn event guide

By Chris Lackner

Brighten up your world. From rainbow hot air balloons to green lizards, and Oktoberfest’s golden brews to Gatineau Park’s Pink Lake, spend this autumn in living colour in the nation’s capital.

The Last Waltz, a tribute to The Band, takes place at CityFolk.

The Last Waltz, a tribute to The Band, takes place at CityFolk.


September 15 to 18, Lansdowne Park

Tone: Ottawa’s signature fall event is set alongside the Rideau Canal in the heart of Lansdowne Park, one of the city’s top destinations for recreation, shopping and dining. This festival is red… as in red hot!

I Spy: Must-see performers include Oregon folk-rockers Blind Pilot and Ottawa’s The Acorn (Sept. 15); The Last Waltz, A Musical Celebration of The Band, presented by an all-star cast of Canadian blues and roots musicians (Sept. 16); Canadian indie royalty via folk queen Basia Bulat, and The New Pornographers (Sept. 17), and musical mad-hatters Lake Street Dive with X Ambassadors (Sept. 18).

True Colours: Discover Ottawa’s roots! CityFolk’s parallel event, Marvest, showcases free music — over 60 local artists — on Bank Street. Meanwhile, some of the city’s best shopping and dining options are only blocks away in The Glebe. Beau’s brewery will pour craft beer throughout the fest; if you want to sample even more of their local suds, read on for Oktoberfest.

Mark Monahan, CityFolk executive director:

“We have big names on the main stage, from Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy to James Bay from the U.K., and a lot of Americana and new indie-folk artists — the new faces of folk music — including John Moreland, Julia Jacklin and Calgary’s Michael Bernard Fitzgerald.”

The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival.

The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival.


September 1 to 5, La Baie Park, Gatineau

Tone: Held over five days, this festival blows a lot more than hot air. Start with over 50 hot air balloons, including special shapes such as a “gigantic elephant”, then add more than 300 activities and shows.

I Spy: Look out for a major musical tribute to Prince and David Bowie featuring 10 singers, a choir, 15 musicians and a dance crew. Families will love the amusement park, reptile zoo, and the Ultimate Strongman Junior World Championship (truck pulls and rock lifting!)

True Colours: The festival takes flight at night with fireworks displays, and two “night glows”, in which the balloons light up to the sound of music.

Éric Brulotte, Festival Spokesperson:

“We also offer a unique opportunity to fly over the nation’s capital, and the size of a hot air balloon is really impressive! One of our key activities is to visit the inside of a hot air balloon. You get to walk inside the balloon while it’s inflated. With all the colours, it’s perfect for memorable pictures! During the meet and greet with the pilots, the people can also see the equipment used for ballooning.”

Beau’s Oktoberfest.

Beau’s Oktoberfest.


September 23 and 24, Vankleek Hill Fairgrounds

Tone: Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi hoi hoi! Raise a pint — or four! What started as a few picnic tables on the brewery’s front lawn has grown into a can’t-miss fall event attracting 20,000 visitors annually for craft beer (with a focus on German styles), independent Canadian music and Bavarian-inspired food from top local restaurants.

I Spy: Beau’s popular Farm Table: Marzen Oktoberfest lager will return for the party. Beau’s new Oktoberfest mix pack, which includes a Vienna-style lager, a ginger hopfenweisse, a Baltic porter, and a spiced beer called a mumme. The specialty brews will be available at Oktoberfest and the LCBO.

True Colours: Come for the beers, stay for the music. A prost-worthy lineup includes  54-40 with Born Ruffians (Friday), and K-os with Hannah Georges (Saturday). Bus transportation from Ottawa, Montreal and Cornwall is available (tickets must be purchased in advance). Camping space exists for weekend pass holders. Wearing lederhosen is optional.

Steve Beauchesne, Beau’s co-founder: 

“It’s not a sit-around kind of event, there’s so much going on. You can take a class on beer and food pairing, participate in (or enjoy watching) the keg toss or sausage eating competitions, or check out day and evening entertainment on two stages. There’s even a beer festival within our festival where you can try beer from 50 other national and international craft breweries.”

Reptiles at Museum of Nature.

Reptiles at Museum of Nature.


October 7 to April 8, 2017

Tone: This interactive exhibit is part zoo, part natural history presentation, and will include live animals such as colourful lizards, exotic turtles and deadly snakes.

I Spy: Get your close-up with a chameleon and gaboon viper!

True Colours: You’ll have a whale of a time in the museum’s Water Gallery, including an awe-inspiring hanging skeleton of a Blue Whale. Elgin Street, only a few steps away from the museum’s front doors, is a thriving corridor for restaurants and pubs. Be sure to stop by the museum’s outdoor Landscapes of Canada Gardens; it’s reptile free.

Chad Peeling, Operations manager for Reptiland in Pennsylvania, which tours the show:

“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 Ottawa’s fall foliage colours it might well turn red with stress, but it would also die quickly in the cool temperatures.”


Mac My Cheese Fest.


September 30 to October 2, City Hall

Tone: Only pay for what you eat at a whole festival devoted to serving the ultimate comfort food! It’s all about exploring the variety of mac and cheese taste possibilities.

I Spy: Carb load before the winter! Mac and cheese recipes will include traditional, Thai, pulled pork, smoked salmon, and bacon.

True Colours: The kids fun zone and rock-climbing wall will help your family work for that macaroni; the international mac and cheese dishes will blow the minds of Kraft Dinner fans.


Pink Lake in Gatineau Park.


Tone: From Oct. 1 to Oct. 16, the park will be brimming with colourful leaves and special activities for its annual Fall Rhapsody.

I Spy: While spots like Pink Lake and Champlain Lookout remain popular, the park is home to many hidden gems that aren’t as overwhelmed by tourists. Trek along the scenic Cross Loop Road in Chelsea, visit La Pêche Lake for tranquil kayaking and canoeing, or park at Meech Lake’s O’Brien Beach and hike to the Carbide Wilson Ruins (the remnants of a revolutionary industrial plant).

True Colours: Don’t let the name fool you, Pink Lake is emerald green thanks to microscopic algae. Its small surface and bowl-like shape, surrounded by steep cliffs, makes it one of the most unique hikes in Gatineau Park, offering stunning views. The spellbinding, well-maintained trail is accessible to all ages, but a starting lookout post offers a fall vista for the ages. Learn more about Gatineau Park’s Fall Rhapsody.

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:


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.


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.


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.


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…

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 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.


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.


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


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
Map and reviews