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By Jane Cassie
(For Travel Writers’ Tales)

Canada’s capital, our governing nexus, the centre of parliament; the Maple Leaf flaps proudly from many a flag pole in Ottawa. But if you think this vibrant city is all about pageantry and politics you may want to take another look. Better yet, come along with us on this 36 hour whirlwind visit and discover a few of its must-see gems.


(Photo 1: Chateau Breakfast spread


We check into The Fairmont Château Laurier, a regal-like beauty that’s steeped with turrets, history and is conveniently tucked into the city’s pulsating hub. Following in the footsteps of dignitaries, we go for the glitz – a fourth floor Fairmont Gold experience that’s complete with pedigree perks like breakfast buffets and evening canapés.

(Photo 2 Chateau Lit Up like a Castle)


Walking tours are offered year-round, and even during these chillier months, it’s a great way to get acquainted with this city’s past and present treasures. Bundled in woolies and with Craig MacDonald leading the way, we stroll by famous landmarks and learn about Ottawa’s colourful traits –everything from political characters and legendary founders to its architecture and eateries…


...One of which becomes our gastronomy stop for the evening. The well-respected Beckta Dining and Wine opened a second location called Play Food & Wine in the ByWard Market neighbourhood in 2009. Focusing on small plates, this funky restaurant, housed in an historic building, is located across the street from the U.S. Embassy. Yum!


(Photo 3. Brent in front of Parliament Building)


On February 1, 2019, Centre Block closed for approximately 10 years as it undergoes renovations but a new interim House of Commons opened for public tours in West Block in what used to be an open-air courtyard. The Senate of Canada also relocated, and tours of that chamber are available at the Senate of Canada Building .We follow our guide and get a Coles Notes overview of the workings of our country. A new online booking system for free tours of both chambers is available at

(Photo 4: Rideau Canal Skateway)


Sandwiched between the Parliament buildings and our getaway gem is the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that links Kingston to Ottawa. During these winter months, 7.8 kilometers of this pristine waterway is devoted to those who like to lace up and skate. A pedestrian pathway hugs up to both sides, so even those without blades (like us) can get in on the action.


A short taxi ride south of downtown Ottawa is the Glebe neighbourhood, once a turn-of-the-century blue-collar community, now trendy and terrifically hip. Boutiques, bookstores and shops border the tree-lined streets and when it’s time to dine the options are awesome –Wild Oat for the health conscious, Flippers for the fish lover, Light of India for spicy Indian fare.


This British gastropub opened in the Glebe four years ago by Simon and Ross Fraser, brothers who are owners of the beloved Fraser Café in the New Edinburgh neighbourhood. Confit Chicken Leg with Roasted beets and cauliflower puree, cured Duck Breast topped with Quince puree, swiss chard and roasted potatoes or the famous signature dish, Rowan’ Pork Pie served with mustard and pickles. None will disappoint!



(Photo 5 Canadian War Museum Rotunda)

(Photo 6 Jane poses at the Canadian Museum of History)

Ottawa is one cultured capital! With numerous museums and limited time, we opt for three of the big wigs. The Canadian History Hall, located in The Canadian Museum of History, opened July 1, 2017 and retraces 15,000 years of Canadian History through 3 galleries. Two other must see galleries in this venue is the First Peoples Hall and the Canadian Children’s Museum . At the Canadian War Museum it's Canada’s military time-line, war art and battle scenes. And at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC), we admire the Canadian and Indigenous art as well as the finest collection of Canada’s visual arts in the world. (Pic#6)

3 p.m. BY THE WAY...

(Photo 7: Tasty Display, ByWard Market)

Don’t miss the ByWard Market neighbourhood! Up to a hundred and seventy-five vendors set up shop at this open-air venue and even in the cold of winter it’s bursting with business. We saunter the aisles where bistros butt up to boutiques and veggies, fruits and flowers brim over with abundance –it’s an amazing menagerie of savoury delights, inviting scents and colourful sights. And like the rest of our 36 hour Ottawa soiree, it’s full of surprises!



PHOTOS by Jane & Brent Cassie & Ottawa Tourism

#1 Chateau-Breakfast-spread

#2Chateau _Lit_up_like_a_castle






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