Out and about in Ottawa

Originally a trading and lumbering community, Ottawa was named the capital of the Province of Canada in late 1857. The location of the capital city changed six times in the first 26 years of Canada’s history, but Queen Victoria chose Ottawa, as political rivalries quarreled between the various cities.


One of the most important winter festivals in Ontario is Winterlude, an event I have wanted to attend for several years, and see how large chunks of ice can be brought to life.

Part of the Winterlude festival, the National ice-carving championship takes place in the first weekend of February. Great talent from all Canadian provinces and territories is put to work, to create amazing pieces of art. It was very unfortunate that they started melting away due to the mild weather, just after few days. This year’s theme was Creatures of the Sea, to remind us of the wonderful underwater life from our seas and oceans.

You can see here the most beautiful sculptures of this season.

We learned about mosasaurs, the huge marine lizard creatures, that lived in the oceans during the Late Cretaceous period, about 93 – 60 million years ago. They could reach length of up to 50 feet.


As we managed to arrive in Ottawa on a beautiful sunny weekend, we decided it is time to explore the surroundings. We realized we haven’t been here for awhile, and actually never in the winter. Leaving the crowds behind, on the Spark Street where the stunning ice-sculptures were, we headed to Byward market, the site of the country’s oldest open-air market, full of boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and pubs. We found someone was giving an ice carving demonstration, an interesting hobby with heavy tools.


There are quite some sculptures around the downtown, such as the National War Memorial, Valiants Memorial to name a couple, dedicated to important figures in Canadian history. My favourite is the one named “Women are persons”, dedicated to the five women who appealed a 1928 Supreme Court decision, which ruled that women could not be appointed to the Senate, because they were not “qualified persons”. Created in 2000, this monument is a tribute to the women’s famous victory in 1929 when the Privy Council (then the highest court in the British Empire) reversed the Supreme Court of Canada decision.


The Rideau Canal Skateway is a beloved tradition of Ottawa’s Winterlude. It is said to be the largest skating rink in the world at 7.8 km long. It was first opened in 1971 and has been operational every year for 51 years. Except this winter. The temperatures varied a lot this season, making the canal unsafe for skating. The 202 km long Rideau Canal was opened in 1832, as a precaution in case of war with the U.S. It is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America, and in 2007 it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All 45 locks still operate today between Ottawa river in Ottawa and St Lawrence River in Kingston, and the canal is used mostly for pleasure boating.


It was Lieut. Col. John By who worked in Canada on several projects, including the design and building the Rideau Canal an divided Ottawa in 1827 into two main sections: the Upper Town and the Lower Town. The best-known of these is the Upper Town, famous for Parliament Hill, where the Parliament buildings are.

Many of the surrounding alleys are closed due to the ongoing constructions, and rehabilitation program, but we could get around the East Block, which is my favourite in terms of architectural style. Completed in 1865, the East Block is one of the world’s best examples of High Victorian Gothic Revival style, and remains nearest to its original design.

Few people wearing signs reminded us of some of the ongoing issues Canada, and probably most of the world, has.


Chaudiere Falls and Dam was another interesting site we stopped by. The Ottawa River is the main tributary of St Lawrence River, and a key factor in the city’s settlement and development, as it facilitated the transport of all resources from this region, such as furs, timber, and minerals.

Chaudière Falls, named by the Algonquin First Nation “Asticou” (translated as ‘kettle’, or ‘boiling water’) is considered a sacred site, due to its significance as a meeting place, portage site and trade route.

I love the way the freezing temperatures play with water, creating beautiful formations along the rocky shore. It was really dazzling to look at the tumultuous water, struggling to find its way down the river.


Ottawa is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River, at the confluence of the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau rivers, which served as passageways for explorers and fur traders for centuries. Today, the rivers offer a perfect setting for green spaces, and parks. Remic Rapids Park is one of them, where many skiers and bikers were enjoying the community volunteers-maintained Kicki Sibi Winter Trail.

It was a really warm day, can you tell that?

After a walk along the riverfront, we hung for a bit around the Balanced rock sculptures area, getting ready to leave this wonderful city. To enhance the park’s beauty, artist John Felice Ceprano has created these sculptures since 1986, using fossilized and colourful rocks found on the Ottawa River southern shore.

Nothing can beat a sunny day, see you soon Ottawa!!

~ visited in February 2023

If you like winter, or the winter wonders you might like:

Creatures of the Sea – Winterlude

Winter wonders: frost flowers

The magic of the frozen falls: Niagara Falls

Ice flowers, the winter’s delicate artwork


24 thoughts on “Out and about in Ottawa

  1. You’ve really captured Ottawa’s winter essence Christie. Every time we go to Ottawa, we are impressed with how much it has changed form the 1980’s. Too bad about the Rideau Canal skating rink. Whodathunkit? Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, the speed the new buildings are popping around is amazing. Not to mention what can happen in 40 years, I think some of the places are really unrecognizable. Our daughter lived in downtown for a couple of years, but she moved out as too noisy due to the ongoing constructions.
      Happy Thursday!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ottawa looks like a great place to visit – especially in the winter when I look at the ice sculptures and frozen water. It looks cold, even though the sky is blue and the sun is shining … and I had a good laugh at the shorts ski photo 😁!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was cold indeed, still having my hat and gloves, but it was a wonderful winter day. Actually it was much warmer than normal, as you could see the Canadian style skier LOL Glad this made you laugh🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your travel photos, Christie. Looks like Ottawa is a great place to visit in winter. I love cold weather and snow therefore I would very much enjoy all-day snow activities. I know that some people suffer from the winter blues and can feel stuck inside when the weather becomes undesirable. But I find that planning enjoyable activities is one way people can take control of their environments and create excitement in their lives. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. I am so glad that March has finally arrived, it may still be cold, but spring is definitely much closer than it was a month ago 🙂 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Ottawa is a great place to live as well, from what our friends told us. And our daughter🙂 With many rivers, and parks around, it makes a great place where you can balance the city life with greenery.
      The way to enjoy winter is to embrace it, and so we need to take advantage of any sunny day and appreciate the beauties that come with it, including all the enjoyable activities.
      Indeed, spring is on the way, I’m so looking forward to it🙂 Cheers, hugs to your little ones, xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think I have ever seen a bunch of ice sculptures in person! (Kind of strange since I have lived in plenty of cold places.) The frozen Chaudière Falls photos are very cool, and the city overall seems like a great place to visit.


  5. It’s always fun to visit Ottawa during Winterlude to see all the snow and ice sculptures. It’s too bad about the mild weather though, which ruined some of the ice carvings and prevented the Rideau Canal Skateway from opening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Overall, I didn’t mind this winter with its mild weather lol, but on the other hand, the climate is changing a lot, which is another issue.. Happy Friday, and have a nice weekend!


  6. The weather has been having a great deal of difficulty making up its mind what season it is… at least it doesn’t get boring. Love the ice sculptures. Pity they started melting much too soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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