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Ottawa – Capital of culture and nature

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By Tyrone Burke


With museums, waterfalls and grand government buildings, Ottawa is a city that is rich in both nature and culture. No matter what time of year it is, there are many things for visitors to this city to see and do.


The parliament buildings on Wellington Street are a Canadian icon and a symbol of the city of Ottawa. Built in the neo-gothic architectural style, these might be Canada’s most beautiful buildings. For many visitors, these are a highlight of the Canadian Capital. Guided tours of the buildings are free and available 7 days a week. They are between 20-60 minutes in length, and leave from the base of the Peace Tower, which is the tall clock tower at the center of the buildings. Be sure to check out the Library of Parliament and the view of the Ottawa River from the back of the buildings. It is as impressive as the buildings themselves.


From this lookout, you are able to see Canada’s National Gallery of Art and the Canadian Museum of History, both important parts of Canada’s national museum system. Together, these museums serve as a good introduction to the country’s history, culture and geography. These museums are scattered throughout the city, but most are easily accessed via the city’s public transportation system.


Follow Sussex Drive past the National Gallery and you’ll find Rideau Falls and 24 Sussex, the official residence of Canada’s Prime Minister. The waterfall is more interesting than the Prime Minister’s residence though. Thick trees in behind the compound’s gates obscure the view of the residence. The only time it is really possible to get a good view is on Hallowe’en. It is a Canadian tradition for the Prime Minister to give candy to trick or treaters for this holiday, and on this day, visitors can wait in line to receive candy from Canada’s Prime Minister.


Across the street from the Prime Minister’s residence is Rideau Hall, the official residence of Canada’s Governor General. The Governor General is the official representative of the British monarch in Canada, as appointed by Canada’s Prime Minister. The expansive grounds of are open to the public, and tours of the Rideau Hall residence run every day in winter, and Monday to Friday during summer.


Ottawans love to be outside, and you’ll probably want to get outdoors while you’re here too. There are many beautiful parks in the city, and the extensive network of recreational trails that run alongside the rivers and canal are a great way to see some of the city’s natural beauty. In winter, the Rideau Canal becomes an 8.8 km long skating rink through the middle of town. Even if you can’t skate, be sure to go for a walk on the canal, there is a track on the side that is not slippery.


The city’s real outdoor gem is Gatineau Park. Just a few minutes by car from the city center, this park protects the beautiful Gatineau hills, with their lakes, rivers and waterfalls. During the autumn leaf change, the park is a riot of color and should not be missed.