Ottawa/Gatineau – a swinging place

Ottawa/Gatineau is a Swinging place

If you haven’t visited the National Capital region of Ottawa/Gatineau recently, now is the time to go.
Once it had a staid image but not anymore, open air cafes and winebars abound and there are festivals and special events galore.
This time I stayed across the wide Ottawa river in Gatineau, the little town formerly known as Hull. I like Gatineau much better. Dominated by the massive Canada Museum of History which stretches along the river and overlooks a wonderful view of Parliament hill, it is a quintessentially Quebec town, a pretty little place, less crowded and easily walkable, with biking trails and some great restaurants to cool off in after you have taken in the Museum and the unique Mosaiculture exhibit currently drawing large crowds in Jacques Cartier Parc. Mosaiculture was a Canada 150 project last year. and drew much interest with 1.5 million visitors. Funding was obtained to present it again this year from June 22 – October 15, when it will be permanently dismantled. A version of topiary, there are 45 commemorative wire structures reflecting different themes, from Canadian provinces, Indigenous peoples and their stories to ecology. The architectural designs are covered with 5.5 million plants that require constant trimming to keep the shapes alive and keep an army of gardeners at work everyday. At the entrance a large structure of Anne of Green Gables, reflecting Prince Edward Island’s iconic image starts a winding pathway around the open air exhibit, which takes about 60 – 90 minutes to take in. You can see everything from Mounties, moose and polar bears, native canoe builders, to a giant Mother Earth. Along the way, some plants and flowers are identified as well as the stories behind the ingenious exhibits.
You will need a lot longer at the Museum of History, probably several visits to see it all, but this year a special exhibition, Death in the Ice- the mystery of the Franklin expedition, is attracting a lot of interest and runs until September 30. A travelling exhibition from the British Museum via Spain and Australia, Medieval Europe, with 200 artifacts opened June 8 until January 20, 2019.
Gatineau dining is varied with many locally owned restaurants serving locally sourced healthy food, and full or tasting menus accompanied by wine tasting, and the friendly locals know their products. Take care if you are not French speaking, road signs are in French and some menus also although service people are mostly bi lingual.
A fun way to cross the river to Ottawa proper, is by a little ferry which provides a wonderful view of Parliament Hill and the Ottawa skyline and drops you off at the bottom of the cliff below Parliament hill where you can climb up and cool off at the Tavern on the hill, a new watering hole, hopping on this hot evening, which serves a wide variety of drinks and cocktails and gourmet hamburgers and hotdogs. Afterwards walk around downtown Ottawa, past the impressive War memorial and newly sand blasted Chateau Laurier hotel, where you will find many excellent restaurants, bars and canal side walks to round out your visit on a late summer evening.

Mosaiculture Gatineau 2018
Canadian Museum of history
Canadian Museum of Nature

Tess Bridgwater July 2018

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