Mounties - check. Beaver tails - check. Now what do we do?
June 17, 2009 9:11 PM   Subscribe

CanadaDayinOttawaFilter: What are the Don't Miss activities and attractions in Ottawa on Canada Day? Bonus points for additional recommendations for things to do on the drive to and in and around Montreal on July 2nd & 3rd?

I've got a buddy in from the U.K. and we're going on a good old North American road trip. We're getting into Ottawa the evening of June 30th - after a day of whitewater rafting - with the intent of spending Canada Day in the nation's capitol. I've been to Ottawa a couple times, but the last time was twelve years ago. I've seen the official schedule but am wondering what else is there? What's good, what's lame? Etc. Activities which include nature, music, culture, food, and drinking are all good activities.

Thanks in advance and let me know if I can provide further detail.
posted by dismitree to Travel & Transportation around Ottawa, ON (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
whatever you decide to do, the atmosphere in Ottawa on Canada Day is awesome! i was there in 2006, and although the city was very busy (and driving downtown was a bit of a pain), it seemed that everyone was having a good time.

if contemporary photography interests you, i highly recommend the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. it was a highlight of my '06 visit.

and be sure to stop by Kettleman's for a bagel. my brother recommended the place, and since visiting, i've been recommending them too.

have fun!
posted by gursky at 9:41 PM on June 17, 2009

Don't miss the Snowbirds.
Here's a schedule of events.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:24 PM on June 17, 2009

the canadian museum of contemporary photography was moved to the national gallery and no longer (for now) operates as a separate entity, fyi.

the war museum is actually really great and the museum of civilization across the river in gatineau is cool. walking across the bridge there to gatineau is also a great place for pictures of parliament hill and for watching the fireworks.

i like the manx on elgin street if you want to hang out and have a beer.

this is my first canada day in ottawa, but feel free to message me if you have any questions about thee city in general!
posted by betsybetsy at 10:37 PM on June 17, 2009

If you're along the canal mid-afternoon, you may notice a canoe or two of early-20's guys heading from Hogsback to downtown along the canal drinking rum and singing pirate songs. I'm not sure if they're heading out this year. Sing along!
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:07 AM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: Ah, Canada Day. I used to work on Parliament Hill during Canada Day. There are two shows on the Hill, one at noon and one in the evening. The evening one always has the better performers, but you'll see and maybe meet the politicians if you go to the noon show.

That said, make sure you aren't on the Hill during the fireworks. The best view of the fireworks is down by the locks on the Rideau Canal. Walk to the War Memorial on Elgin street, go down the steps and walk under Sapper's Bridge to come out by the locks. Best view in town, in my opinion.

There are demonstrations and performances from people from all over Canada at both Jacques Cartier park in Gatineau, and at Major's Hill park in Ottawa. They're always worth checking out.

Don't bring your car downtown, the entire downtown core is closed to street traffic the whole day. Plan to go on foot, and bring bottled water and a sweater in a backpack. I have known Canada Days to be so hot the fire department had to hose down the crowd, and so cold that all the chintzy souvenir vendors ran out of hoodies to sell.

The Byward Market and the National Art Gallery are both within walking distance of the Hill, and they're worth checking out any time. Lots of food and drink choices down in the Market. The Museum of Civilization is just across the river in Hull, and it's also worth checking out.

Oh, and drop us Ottawa Mefites a line! Maybe we should plan an ad-hoc get-together to celebrate the national holiday of Northern Canuckistan!
posted by LN at 6:10 AM on June 18, 2009

The downtown area is filled with buskers on Canada day, particularly along Rideau Street (which is closed off to traffic for the occasion; last year they set up a half-pipe and had bike tricks! It was a promo stunt, but that doesn't mean it wasn't cool) and along Sussex drive / in the byward market. Don't stay confined to Parliament hill - walk around as much as you can.

And yeah, the atmosphere is brilliant. Museums have free admission on Canada Day and as mentioned above, the Museum of Civilization (within walking distance; go down Sussex drive and across Alexandra bridge) is one of the better museums in Ottawa. It has a decent amount of native art.

Hope you enjoy your time here! And yeah, do give us a shout if you'd like to hang out with some MeFites though we wouldn't want to scare your friend.
posted by Phire at 6:20 AM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: All I can say is ... I hope you like crowds. Don't expect to be able to move around a museum or even around town very quickly. It is a mob scene, but a happy mob scene. Do expect to wait to get into bars and restaurants in the market.

If you want to get in the spirit of things, you can dress up, get your face painted, etc. Red and white are THE colours to wear.

Ooh ... bonus points!!

Montreal. I like walking around, up and down St. Catherine's, St Denis, Old Montreal. Go to Atwater market. Have beer at Brutopia, Les 3 Brasseurs, St Elizabeth Pub, Bar St Sulpice, or Le Cheval Blanc.

I also enjoy the BioDome, way better than a zoo, because they recreate the whole ecosystem.
posted by Gor-ella at 8:23 AM on June 18, 2009

If you like cats, behind the Parliament buildings there is a cat colony: cats of Parliament Hill.

seconding The Manx as a nice place for a light meal and beer.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:01 PM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great help.

LobsterMitten: Totally forgot hearing about the cats. Will totally check that out.
Lemurrhea: Pirates - what??

Meetup, eh? I'll ask my buddy about his inclinations when he lands next week!
posted by dismitree at 5:44 PM on June 18, 2009

My wife and I did the "Canada Day In The Capital" thing a few years ago, we headed up to Parliament Hill the evening before and got to watch Burton Cummings and his band (maybe with Randy Bachman? No idea...) doing what appeared to be a concert-length soundcheck. There were only a dozen or so other people there, so it was almost a private open-air performance!

Canada Day itself was rather insane with the crowds, but fun. If you can, book a hotel within walking distance of the Hill. We stayed at 'Arc The Hotel' when we went, it was nice and convenient.
posted by lowlife at 2:52 PM on June 28, 2009

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