Whether you want to look into the past, explore the present or discover what the future might hold, Ottawa is a city that has it all.
It’s hard to plan for the future unless you first understand your past. As proud Canadians, our nation’s capital becomes the centre piece for us, as a city full of history to explore with museums, galleries, government buildings and more.
If you stop by the Capital Infocentre (across from Parliament Hill—home to our government’s decision makers), you can pick up self-guiding booklets to lead you around the outdoor grounds, with a list of over 20 spots to hit (if you’re in a rush, they recommend the top five essential stops) and the best locations for taking photos of the gothic structures. Guided tours are available inside, but the highlight is definitely the view from the top of the Peace Tower (a monument to more than 65,000 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during WWI), which offers a stunning 360-degree view of the capital city.
DID YOU KNOW?: The iconic green roofs of the Parliament buildings are made of copper, which slowly turns from brown to green from chemical oxidation (exposure to air, rain, pollution, etc.). This layer of green copper acetate actually protects the roofs from further corrosion.
I always recommend taking an early tour of any destination you hit; it gives you a good sense of what’s available in the city you’re in, so you can mark places that you want to go back to later on in your stay.
Ottawa has a bunch of different ones available—rickshaw tours, urban scavenger hunts, haunted walking tours at night—but my favourite is the C’est Bon Cooking Tour. Your expert guide will take you through the local food markets (like the famous ByWard Market), introduce you to local chefs (like the sous chef at the Courtyard Restaurant, also a contestant on Top Chef Canada) and local businesses that specialize in tasty treats (like our last stop, and my personal favourite, The Cupcake Lounge). Not only do you get a great orientation for the city, but some savoury snacks as well!
DID YOU KNOW?: In February of 2009, President Obama stopped by the ByWard Market on his way to the airport to specifically buy a Beaver Tail pastry (a fried dough pastry stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail and topped with various condiments like cinnamon sugar, lemon or chocolate).
The world is your classroom! You can take that to heart in Ottawa, where they have some amazing educational institutions and opportunities, like the renowned Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute. Whether you are looking into pursuing a career as a chef or just interested in a weekend class, this school of French techniques in cooking is the best of the best when it comes to food.
The beautiful campus is housed in a Munross Mansion, a heritage building from 1874 with gorgeous dining areas, demonstration classrooms, professional kitchens for practicals and tons of stairs—which are good for the pastry students, joke the administrators.
You can choose from a list of gourmet short courses for amateurs that are between one and four days long. Or, you can enroll in the full training programs in either cuisine or pastry—each has three levels: basic, intermediate and superior—with varying schedules that last up to 18 months.
DID YOU KNOW?: Le Cordon Bleu has been around for more than 100 years and although it was founded in Paris, France, they now have more than 30 schools in 15 countries. Over 20,000 students from more than 70 countries attend each year.
And that’s without getting in the festivals, events, museums, night life, sports teams and more that Ottawa has to offer. That’s, as they say, another story.
For more info on the city of Ottawa, check out www.ottawatourism.ca.