DREAMSCAPES Fall/Winter 2017
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OTTAWA COMMEMORATES 2017
 
(2016 - Winter Issue)

Writer: BRUCE SACH



Ottawa residents can’t wait for the winter of 2017 to arrive. Yes, people might actually pray for winter’s arrival here for three very important reasons.

Firstly, winter brings the promise of a completely frozen Rideau Canal. And skating on the Rideau Canal has become a ritual for both visitors and residents alike.

The second reason is Ottawa’s Winterlude Festival depends on three weeks of solid, midwinter frigid temperatures in order to be successful. This includes ice sculptures, tobogganing and plenty of kid-oriented activities. 

And thirdly, the arrival of 2017 means Ottawa can start enjoying the activities designed for Canada’s 150th anniversary.

THE WINTER LINEUP

From March 3 to 4, the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships will be integrated into the locks on the Rideau Canal. Skaters will stream down ice tracks that will include hairpin turns and vertical drops.

Following the ice theme, Ottawa will host the Stanley Cup’s 125th anniversary tribute from March 15–18. There may be a chance to see the Stanley Cup at Rideau Hall (March 16), a special night with NHL alumni players (March 17) and a groundbreaking ceremony on Sparks Street for Lord Stanley’s Gift Monument (March 18). If the March 16 event happens, the Cup will be returning home, as it was Lord Stanley, a former Governor General and former resident of Rideau Hall, who founded the Stanley Cup tradition.

On January 16, today’s Governor General, His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston will open up the grounds of Rideau Hall for a Winter Celebration that will include horse-drawn sleigh rides, Finnish kick sledding, Icelandic horses, Inuit traditional arts and a winter camp.

Hockey fans won’t want to miss the exhibition game of bandy, hockey’s precursor, on the Governor General’s own outdoor rink. Come to think of it, if winter doesn’t completely freeze the Rideau Canal in 2017, you can always count on the Rideau Hall regular-sized rink for guaranteed ice.

The annual Gatineau Loppet cross-country race will take place from February 15–20 across the river from Ottawa in Québec’s Gatineau Hills. This strenuous race attracts serious cross-country skiers from across Canada and around the world. Group teams can also race, and this year, there is a new feature. Bike races for fat-tired bikes will be included. 

Keep in mind that just across the Ottawa River, in the Gatineau Hills, there are more than 200 kilometres of cross-country ski trails and numerous downhill ski centres.

For traditionalists there is also the Canadian Ski Marathon, about to enter its 51st year. It is not a race, but is all about endurance. Participants can choose to do as few or as many as the five legs per day in an endeavour that also allows some skiers to sleep outside between the first and second days, in a special camp where only hay and firewood are provided. That’s right—you must bring in your own food and sleeping bag on your back. Most of those involved in this madness don’t bother with a tent so as to avoid extra weight!

INDOOR BREAKS

At the Canadian Museum of History two exhibits are bound to raise eyebrows. Until March 12, 2017, “Nice Women Don’t Want the Vote” remembers the suffragette struggle in Canada. “More Than Just a Game” (March to October 2017), looks at, you guessed it, our ongoing fascination with hockey!

Another two events that will take place regardless of the severity of the winter are the Juno Awards (March 27–April 2), celebrating the best in the Canadian music industry, and something new, the Inspiration Village. The latter will be held in Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market, beginning May 20. Shipping containers will be outfitted by each province and territory for a competition sponsored by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

Also on the Québec side, you should not miss a functioning farm, the Moore Farm, right in the centre of the Hull district. Programs include explaining how food is grown and regular nights on recipe preparation and learning how to cook.

A little farther to the west, in the Aylmer sector, visit the only building named in the 1867 British North America Act. Its current use is the Old Aylmer Cultural Centre where you can hear intimate concerts of world beat music.

TRAVEL PLANNER

For more information on upcoming 2017 events in Ottawa and the surrounding area, visit:

Ottawa Tourism: ottawatourism.ca/Ottawa-in-2017

Tourisme Outaouais: tourismeoutaouais.com/en

Moore Farm: lafermemoore.ca

Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships: redbullcrashedice.com/en

The Governor General of Canada: gg.ca

Winterlude Festival: www.canada.pch.gc.ca

 
 
 
 
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