Ottawa Things to Do Tips by Paul2001
Ottawa Things to Do: 676 reviews and 1,574 photos
A World War One trench
This is the latest version of the museum dedicated to Canada's military history which is both heroic and at times tragic. Apparently there has been a war museum in Ottawa since 1880. I visited the old building on Sussex Drive at least three times in my life and during my last visit in 1995, I was finding it pretty tired. In 2005 an updated Canada War Museum was opened in a new building west from Parliament Hill. The building itself was designed by Raymond Moriyama who is a Japanese-Canadian interned during the Second World War.
This latest edition of the Canada War Museum is a vast improvement. The museum can be toured chronologically. This means warfare between Native Canadian tribes which is depicted via dioramas and display of weaponry. You will then proceed to the colonial wars between the French and the British which involved these same Native tribes as allies. Canada's role in the Boer War, the World Wars and in Korea are also well chronicled. There are many weapons on display here and many life size dioramas that show you how intense the fighting can sometimes be. There are also films throughout that give you recorded accounts from Canadian War veterans. There is also a section dedicated to Canada's role in UN peacekeeping throughout much of the last half of the 20th century. In the basement there is a large collection of 20th century weaponry that I thought was very impressive. Overall I thought that this new museum was excellent. I think that foreign visitors (I mean you folks from the USA and the UK!) will be surprised at the important role Canada has played the World Wars and last half of the 20th century.
If you have bought a ticket for a sameday visit to the Canadian Museum of Civilization, then you will be able to visit both for $18. Otherwise a single visit is $12.00. The museum is open seven days a week.
Address: 1 Vimy Place
Directions: A couple of blocks west from Parliament Hill
The Canadian Museum of Civilization
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is the most visited museum in Ottawa. It tells the story of Canada's history in a manner so well done that I left feeling very proud. The museum starts with the story of the original Native Canadians before Europeans arrived with the reproduction of the a West Coast tribal village complete with totems in the Grand Hall.
The museum is broken up into several levels. I thought the third level very interesting. It takes you on a stroll through Canadian history to from the first visits by the Vikings to present times. This includes visits to a Metis Camp, a small town in Saskatchewan (just as it is being visited by Queen Elizabeth II), a Maritime fishing village and an airport. All of this makes great use of life size dioramas.
The Fourth level features temporary exhibits on famous Canadians who have made their mark on Canadian society throughout history. The museum has collected memorabilia and artifacts of over 4,000 Canadians but only exhibits 50 at a time. Some of these people are political whom I think they deal with great objectivity. Others are entertainers, athletes, industrialists and artists. As a history major I really appreciated these collections and think more Canadians should see them.
The first level is dedicated to Native abroginal peoples. This includes the Grand Hall and many interactive exhibits that are well presented. On the Second Level you will find a special children's section and the Canadian Postal Museum.
The museum is open daily but the times change throughout the year. Entry fee is $12.00 for adults and $8.00 for children.
Address: 100 Laurier Street
Directions: Just across the bridge in Gatineau. You can see it from the Ottawa side where I took this photograph
The Canadian Parliament Buildings from Quebec
The Parliament Buildings of Canada are as fine a neo-Gothic complex you are going to visit anywhere. These wonderful buildings sit dramatically over the Ottawa River gorge. The buildings actually date from 1859, however the most important building, the Centre Block, is actually a reconstruction of an earlier building that burnt down in 1916. Fortunately the Library, located in the rear of the building, was saved. This beautiful circular room is superbly decorated with carved wooden walls. I think that it might be one the most stunning interiors in all of Canada. Also very importantly, the Centre Block is the location of Canada's House of Commons and it's Senate. Visitors can watch parliamentry debate go on here when parliament is in session, which for my taste is not enough. You can also take free tours of the Centre Block which are quite good in my opinion. This is a wonderful way to see some of the splendidly ornate decorations that are through the building that you would otherwise miss. From the exterior, the building is dominated by the high Peace Tower which was added in 1927 to the facade of the building in honour of those who died during the First World War.
The Parliament Buildings also is host to a Changing of the Guard ceremony similar to what you might see in London. Red tuniced, bearskin hat soldiers in parade. These are performed during the summer months between 9:30am to 10:00am
The Monster Spider
The National Gallery of Canada is arguably the best art gallery in Canada and certainly one of the most important galleries in all of North America. Naturally Canadian art is well represented with David Milne, Emily Carr, Tom Thomson and the Group Of Seven being exhibited in strength. However what for me makes the National Gallery superior to the other galleries in Canada is the strong Modern Collection. Artist like Klee, Klimt, Leger, and Braque are well represented here with some of their best works. On the day I last visited the The National Gallery of Canada it was attacked by a giant spider. Actually this is a cool spider that is located near the entrance.
Address: 380 Sussex Drive
Directions: Located south of the Byward Market
Phone: (613) 990-1985
The last time I visited Ottawa I did not have the time to take a tour of the interior of the Parliament Buildings but I did take a leisurely walk around the lawns the surround the main building. This also a very advisable experience as the views of the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill are impressive. Also worth mentioning are the 19 stations that you can visit that will provide you some insight into the Confederation of Canada and the develop of its history. These stations are basically statues and small buildings. You can get a small booklet from the tourist tent which will tell you about the persons or events that each station depicts. Basically the stations are located in a clockwise direction around the main Parliament Building. Personally I thought it was a good way to brush up on my Canadian history. As the statues were all constructed during different artistic eras, the styles different radically. I kind of wonder of William Lyon MacKenzie King would like his and it hyper it exaggerates his plump physic. Another aspect of this walk around the Parliament Buildings are the views of the Ottawa River which are superb from this vantage point.
The Canadian Aviation Museum
The Canadian Aviation Museum is one of the leading collection of aircraft in the world. Before I describe the museum I should mention a few things about airplanes in Canada. As you all should know Canada is a huge country, so big that to get around cars and trains are often impratical. Hence the importance of airplanes as a means of transportation. Furthermore is the significance of military aircraft in Canadian history. Arguably Canada's greatest contribution to the Allied cause in the Second World War was the construction of aircraft and the role the RCAF played in the bombing of Germany and in the Battle of the North Atlantic. It is not commonly known that at the close of the Second World War, Canada had the fourth largest air force in the world. Therefore it makes sense that this museum dedicated to the airplane is so important for Canadians and for people who want to more of Canada, should visit.
The museum itself consists of collection of 115 authentic or full sized replica aircraft. Amongst them is a replica of the A.E.A Silver Dart the first Canadian aircraft built under the supervision non-other than Alexander Graham Bell. The museum has an astonishing collection of aircraft used during the two World Wars including Mustangs, Spitfires, Lancaster Bombers and Sopwith Camels. There is also a wide variety of floatplanes which of course considering all the remote lakeside communities in Canada are commonly used. Many aircraft have had there skins lpartially removed and can be entered and explored by the public.
The museum is open from 9am to 5pm daily except on Thursday when it stays open until 9pm. In the off season it opens at 10am. It cost $6.00 for adult ticket and $4.00 for children.
The website posted below is extemely helpful and quite comprehensive with regards to the collection.
Address: 11 Aviation Parkway
Directions: East of the City Centre
Phone: 613 993-2010
What the Canadian Museum of Nature will look like.
The Canadian Museum of Nature is a wonderful museum that the whole family will enjoy. The museum is dedicated to the history of life on our planet since its origins. That means there are lots of collections of minerals, fossils and bugs that usually delights the kids and grosses out Mom. However it is still quite fascinating. The museum has an interesting collection of dinosaur bones that is well worth seeing.
The museum is currently going through major renovations that will not be completed until 2009. This means certain galleries will be closed during you visit. To be prepared check out the website posted below.
The museum is open from 9:30am to 5pm. On Thursdays it is open until 8pm. It costs $4.00 for adults to visit. The children can enter of $1.75. These prices have been reduced by 50% because of the renovations.
Address: 240 McLeod Street, Ottawa
Directions: South from Downtown Ottawa
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