Ottawa – Gatineau

Ottawa – Gatineau

As far as capital cities go, Ottawa is reasonably walkable. Whether you’re exploring its many heritage sites, browsing its galleries, or taking scenic strolls along the river, you can do it all with a good pair of shoes or a trusty bicycle.

Photo Credit: Ottawa Tourism Website

Day One


DAY 1

EXPLORE NEW EDINBURGH – 9:00 AM

The Tent Room at Rideau Hall. Photo Credit: Ottawa Tourism

DAY 1 – 9:00 AM: START YOUR MORNING IN HISTORIC NEW EDINBURGH

New Edinburgh is an upscale neighbourhood by the Rideau River. Once an industrial centre, many of the area’s early residents were mill workers. Locals are eager to share their neighbourhood’s charm with visitors and have put together a self-guided walking tour that sheds light on its storied streets.

This neighbourhood is home to multiple embassies and Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General. This stately building used to be the home of Thomas McKay, a stonemason and entrepreneur who founded New Edinburgh back in 1832 and helped build the Rideau Canal. The grounds of Rideau Hall are a horticulturalist’s dream—carefully landscaped rose gardens, greenhouses, and lawns blur the line between order and the wilderness. If you visit in the colder months, try skating at the winter pavilion.

DAY 1

VISIT THE OTTAWA ART GALLERY – 3:00 PM

DAY 1 – 3:00 PM: THIS GALLERY’S ARCHITECTURE IS SIMPLICITY DONE WELL

The Ottawa Art Gallery’s new building has an almost ethereal quality to it; the perforated metal mesh of its facade creates soft transitions from the sharp lines of the cube toward the sky. Originally established by local collectors O.J. and Isobel Firestone, the gallery’s Firestone collection focuses on 20th-century Canadian art. It has a significant number of works from the Group of Seven, especially A.Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris.

DAY 1

THE NATIONAL GALLERY– 4:00 PM

This friendly neighbourhood spider has sisters at major galleries across the world, including the Guggenheim Bilbao, and the Mori Art Museum in Japan. Photo Credit: Ottawa Tourism

Day 1 – 4:00 PM: Meet Maman at the National Gallery of Canada

There’s another gallery not too far away from the Ottawa Art Gallery, and it’s right near the place to take in one of the best views in the city. Keep an eye out for the giant, metallic arachnid, Maman, by Louise Bourgeois, who greets everyone who walks up to the National Gallery of Canada. The gallery has one of the most substantial collections of Canadian and Indigenous artwork and also hosts a significant collection of works representing artistic traditions from all over the world.

A short walk from the gallery is the Alexandra Bridge Lookout, which gives a sweeping view of the Ottawa River and the city of Gatineau on the opposite shore.

Food tip: For a filling snack nearby, try The Tavern on the Hill. If you are crossing over to Gatineau, there’s an assortment of French, Italian, and Thai restaurants just a stone’s throw from the bridge.


Day Two


DAY 2

STROLL THROUGH OTTAWA’S CIVIC CENTRE – 9:00 AM

The National Arts Centre offers a stage to some of Canada's most talented performers and productions. Photo Credit: Ottawa Tourism.

DAY 2 – 9:00 AM: START THE DAY WITH A LEISURELY STROLL THROUGH CONFEDERATION PARK & OTTAWA’S CIVIC CENTRE

Opened in 1967 to mark Canada’s centennial anniversary, Confederation Park boasts several public art pieces and monuments, including the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument by Noel Loyd Pinay.

Take a short walk to Ottawa’s city centre to admire the geometry of the courthouse, check out the modern City Hall designed by Canada’s Raymond Moriyama, and explore a few museums along the way. Learn about Canadian military history at the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Regimental Museum. You may also pass by the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights, by sculptor Melvin Charney, which stands at the corner of Lisgar and Elgin.

The National Arts Centre is on the other side of Confederation Park. The brutalist building recently opened its new wing, courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects. The most striking addition to the centre is the Kipnes Lantern, a hexagonal tower wrapped in transparent LEDs. At night the tower comes alive with intense, colourful displays by Canada’s leading artists.

DAY 2

VISIT PARLIAMENT HILL – 11:30 AM

DAY 2 – 11:30 AM: EXPLORE CANADA’S PARLIAMENTARY PRECINCT

Start at the bronze statue of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and walk past the buildings of the East Block. This imposing structure, done in the Gothic-Revival style, once held the offices of Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier. Now, it houses the offices of the Senate.

Next up, you’ll arrive at the Centennial Flame. This fountain, and its not-quite-eternal flame, started out as a temporary monument to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday. Prime Minister Lester P. Pearson lit the flame on New Year’s Eve in 1966; the monument was so beloved by the public that it became a permanent fixture.

The Parliament of Canada, with its iconic Peace Tower rising skyward, is just up the way. Its style is typical of 19th-century Gothic Revival, featuring medieval embellishments like pointed arches, vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and gargoyles. Further along is the Confederation Building, which currently houses the offices of several serving MPs.  Opened in 1931, it’s a more recent addition to the Parliamentary Precinct.

You’ll soon arrive at the Supreme Court of Canada, where two allegorical “Truth” and “Justice” sculptures stand beside the main steps leading into the Grand Entrance Hall. The Canadian War Museum is just up the road from here. Military history buffs should consider this one a must-see; it has a massive collection of military vehicles.

DAY 2

CROSS OVER TO QUEBEC – 3:00 PM

Photo: © Destination Ontario

DAY 2 – 3:00 PM: CROSS OVER TO GATINEAU

Crossing the Ottawa River into Quebec is a simple affair, with two bridges nearby and a water taxi available in the warmer months. On the way to your destination, you’ll pass by the Palais de Justice de Gatineau and the Maison due Citoyen.

The Canadian Museum of History sits at the opposite shore of the Ottawa River across from Parliament Hill. Learn about 15,000 years of history, beginning with the earliest human settlements in North America all the way to the present day. The building, designed by Douglas Cardinal, is an architectural gem, defined by the undulating forms of its two main wings, which emulate the winding riverbank below.

Wrap up the day with a stroll through Jacques Cartier Park, enjoying its sculpture, gardens, and historic structures, or just wander about and see what the streets of Gatineau have to offer.

DISCOVER A GEM IN GATINEAU: THE MACKENZIE KING ESTATE

Take a side jaunt in Gatineau to the summer home of Canada’s longest serving prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. King bequeathed the estate to the people of Canada, and visitors are luckier for it. In the heart of beautiful Gatineau Park, the estate’s English and French flower gardens are stunning, and nearby wooded trails link up with the broader trail network of the park. Learn more about the famously colourful King (among other things he turned to séances in hopes of speaking with his late mother and dogs). Enjoy the beauty of ruins King salvaged and reconstructed on the grounds, using stones from the fire that destroyed the Parliament Buildings in 1916, among other historic sources. In summer take an ice cream or cool drink break at the cute Café Pat. It’s named after the PM’s beloved Irish Terriers — Pat l, Pat ll, and Pat lll.

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Area Gallery


This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.

Ottawa Tourism provided information and assistance for the creation of this guide. All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Esther Lee.


Pickering to Port Perry Region

pickering / Port Perry / oshawa / uxbridge / whitby

This journey through Durham Region begins and ends with its lakes. Start at the shores of Lake Ontario before turning north to explore the charming communities of Lake Scugog. Along the way, explore the well-preserved estates and historic quarters of the region, and maybe even do a little stargazing.


Day One


Pickering Marina
Enjoy a casual stroll through the marina. Credit: Captured by Sage.

DAY 1

START THE DAY AT PICKERING NAUTICAL VILLAGE – 9:00 AM


DAY 1 – 9:00 AM: SPEND THE MORNING TAKING IN THE VIEW OF LAKE ONTARIO AT THE PICKERING NAUTICAL VILLAGE.

Pickering is your first stop on this journey from lake to lake, and where better to kick things off than on the shores of Lake Ontario? Like any settlement on the water, Pickering was and continues to be a nexus of trade, travel, and communication.

Sheltered along the coast of Frenchman’s Bay and watched over by a lighthouse, Pickering Nautical Village is a popular spot among locals and tourists alike. Picturesque buildings line the wide streets, housing boutique shops, restaurants, and spas.

Afterwards, make your way over to Millennium Square to enjoy the waterfront more thoroughly. The nearby marina is full of boats, yachts, and just about anything that floats. If you’re in the mood for a walk, consider the Waterfront Trail, but don’t go too far—it runs from Gros Cap in Sault Ste. Marie to Cornwall!

DAY 1

GET TO KNOW THE HISTORY OF WHITBY & EXPERIENCE SETTLER LIFE IN THE 1800S – 11:00 AM


Lynde-House-Museum
Step into history at the Lynde House Museum. Photo credit: Amy Wong.

DAY 1 – 11:00 AM: EXPLORE THE HISTORY OF THE REGION AT THE LYNDE HOUSE MUSEUM

Jabez Lynde, a United Empire Loyalist, became one of the first landowners in the region. He helped develop the roads that became vital for trade, communication, and moving troops in the area. Lynde’s home, built in the infamous year of 1812, became a tavern and inn during the great war between British North America and the United States. General Brock was one of the many notable people who stayed within its walls. Now, at the Lynde House Museum, visitors can immerse themselves in the 19th-century experience of the home and learn about the history of the area.

Be sure to keep an eye out for a pair of green spires and a curiously paint-splattered locomotive. The Station Gallery, formerly Whitby’s Grand Trunk Railway Station, is where local artists exhibit their work and teach their craft to the public. Come by at the right time, and you might just catch a concert taking place on the porch.

DAY 1

LEARN ABOUT LOCAL ART & EXPLORE THE MCLAUGHLIN FAMILY HOME – 2:00 PM


DAY 1 – 2:00 PM: CHECK OUT SOME LOCAL ART AND CULTURE 

Oshawa is a place built on getting people moving, which is fitting because the city’s name comes from an Ojibwe term which means “that point at the crossing of the stream where the canoe was exchanged for the trail.”

Downtown Oshawa is notable for the architecture of Oshawa City Hall and The Robert McLaughlin Gallery. The latter is named after the founder of General Motors Canada and has the most extensive collection of works by the Painters Eleven, a group of artists who helped make abstract art popular in Canada. One of the artists, Alexandra Luke (also known as Margaret McLaughlin), helped establish the gallery with her husband, Ewart McLaughlin.

The McLaughlin family’s fingerprints are all over Oshawa⎯⎯their former residence has been declared a National Historic Site. Darling and Pearson, the architecture firm responsible for the Royal Ontario Museum and Toronto General Hospital, designed the Parkwood Estate

 

. Its classical revival style and Georgian flares have made it an iconic structure⎯⎯it has been the backdrop for many productions, including X-Men, Anne of Green Gables, Chicago, and Murdoch Mysteries!

DAY 1

HEAD UP TO COZY PORT PERRY – 5:00 PM


Port-Perry
Take a peek inside Port Perry's charming shops and cafes. Photo credit: Meaghan Froh-Metcalf.

DAY 1 – 5:00 PM: BEFORE THE SUN SETS, HOP IN A CAR AND DRIVE NORTH.

Port Perry is a picturesque community nestled on the southwest shore of Lake Scugog. Take a stroll through the streets of its Victorian-era downtown, where there are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants to cater to the weary traveller. The town is small enough that you can walk off dinner with a quick jaunt to the marina or through Palmer Park. Watching the sunset over the calm waters of Lake Scugog is the perfect way to end the night.


Day Two


DAY 2

CHECK OUT LOCAL ART AT META4 – 9:00 AM


DAY 2 – 9:00 AM: CHECK OUT META4

Port Perry might be small, but it’s not without its own gallery. META4 is part art-supply shop, part studio, and part exhibition space. Local artists stop by to stock up on materials and talk shop while instructors teach a variety of techniques. And of course, there’s no shortage of art on display, with over 130 artists’ work available to view or purchase.

DAY 2

VISIT THE HOME OF LUCY MAUD MONTGOMERY – 12:00 PM


Lucy-Maude-Montgomery
Get to know the author behind Anne and her green gables. Photo credit: The Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario.

DAY 2 – 12:00 PM: THIS NEXT STOP IS A MUST FOR FANS OF ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.

Fans of Anne may not know that the author married Presbyterian minister Ewan McDonald and moved to Leaskdale, Ontario, when she was 37. Montgomery wrote 11 novels during her time there. In a testament to Montgomery’s significance to Canada’s literary tradition, her modest brick home, Leakside Manse, became a National Historic Site in 1997.  Just next door is St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, where Montgomery’s partner was a minister. The church now serves as an interpretive centre and as a venue for local events.

No Anne super-fan should miss out on the chance to sneak a selfie with the likeness of this famous author¾ a life-sized, bronze statue of Montgomery sits in the Manse’s back garden.

DAY 2

VISIT THE THOMAS FOSTER MEMORIAL – 5:00 PM


Thomas-Foster-Memorial-Creative-Commons-Rick-Harris
The Taj Mahal of Uxbridge. Credit: Rick Harris.

DAY 2 – 5:00 PM: THE LAST STOP ON YOUR DURHAM EXCURSION IS THE THOMAS FOSTER MEMORIAL, WHERE FORMER TORONTO MAYOR THOMAS FOSTER NOW RESTS.

The building was inspired by Byzantine architecture and Foster’s visit to the Taj Mahal.  Outside, several minarets reach skyward, while inside, copper domes rise up, held aloft by thick marble columns and stone capitals.  Large stained glass windows fill the space with light, causing the mosaics to glimmer. Take a moment to reflect upon this solemn, but striking piece of Canadian architecture as you bring your journey to a close.

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Area Gallery


This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting a few of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.

The Regional Municipality of Durham provided information and assistance for the creation of this guide. All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Esther Lee.