A Family Weekend in Canada’s Capital
The original reason for this trip was my little (only in years) brother’s graduation from Carleton University. My parents, siblings, husband, son and I all wanted to celebrate this amazing accomplishment and show our love and support. A Family Weekend in Canada’s Capital
I love travelling with my parents. As much as I enjoy every second with my little man, being with grandparents means that I get a well deserved break while they get to spend time with their grand-baby. I get to ‘play’ with my siblings, connect with my husband and also watch my parents in one of their favourite roles: grandparents. Win-win.
My sister, son and I flew up on Thursday and headed to the Daytime Ottawa studio for a segment on flying with baby. You can watch the segment here. The rest of the family drove up in the evening and we all met at our Air bnb.
Air bnb‘s are a great accommodation option, especially with larger groups. We all had our own space if we needed it but had a living room to congregate, hang out, laugh, eat and of course, enjoy a beverage or two. Having access to a full kitchen meant that we didn’t need to eat out at every meal and also had a designated space for the baby’s food, formula and bottles. Air bnb truly provides a home away from home.
After the commencement ceremony, we enjoyed a family dinner in Byward Market. As can sometimes happen with babies, C began to fuss, cry and squeal. This meant that a quiet, relaxing and incident-free dinner out as a family was not in our cards so we needed to rethink our evening strategy. My husband had driven up early on Friday morning so he offered to put the baby to bed and stay home during dinner. Consequently, this meant that he could also have the nap he had been trying to sneak in all day. Well played, Mark, well played.
After a lovely dinner out, my parents went back to our apartment and Mark joined my brother, sister and I in Byward Market, feeling refreshed and ready to party. Byward Market turns into a whole different world at night. Bars and clubs come alive with live music, busy patios and streets filled with happy people, all looking to celebrate summer in the city. The buzz of the market reminded me of nights out in Spain, squares filled with music and lights, an electric nighttime energy filling the warm summer air. I understood immediately why my brother loves Ottawa so much. We drank, danced until our feet hurt and joined a long line up of fellow late night burrito lovers before heading home for the night.
We began the next morning rehashing some sibling rivalries at Archery Games, a game like dodgeball but with bows and padded arrows instead. I call it ‘The Hunger Games.’
You are on two teams and over an hour, you play a number of games that included shooting arrows at opponents across a pitch, hiding behind pillars and pretending you are Katniss Evergreen. My brother was very good and the organizers ended up having to take him and my husband off of the same team as together, they were near unstoppable.
With my brother on the opposite team, I found myself getting targeted a great deal more. I guess it is cheaper than therapy, right?
That afternoon, my husband, son and I took some time to explore Ottawa’s great sites as a family. We popped him into our Bugaboo Bee 5 and walked a long the canal. We strolled up to Parliament Hill where they were already preparing for Canada Day celebrations. We played on the freshly laid grass and told my son how lucky he is to be Canadian. I can’t confirm that he understood but we will remind him again in a few years.
We watched a wedding at the beautiful Chateau Laurier and I recited the one fact I knew about the building: The Backstreet Boys stayed here once. True story. I think.
We walked through Inspiration Village, an interactive instalment that celebrates Canada 150 through every province and territory. There were paper plane folding tutorials followed by races, a steel band, Native art displays and unique visual exhibits created in shipping containers. Throughout the summer, the Inspiration Village will host a Byward Market scavenger hunt, drumming workshops and performances, outdoor spinning classes, live DJs and more. In honour of Canada 150, next month, Porter Airlines will whisk away one Inspiration Village guest to a surprise Canadian destination! (Although this does sound like they’re kidnapping you, you DO have to agree to participate before they take you away.)
We strolled along the beautiful Ottawa River and waved to our neighbouring province, Quebec. People on rented biked cruised past us with a ‘Hello. Bonjour.‘ Couples sat on the grass with picnics, joggers flew by and families explored the many historic landmarks that fill downtown Ottawa. There is so much history in so few square kilometres, bronzed statues honour our founders and heroes, and cobbled streets give the city an almost European feel.
We walked toward the National Gallery through Major’s Hill Park and Confederation Park before heading back to Byward Market. Byward Market has a different vibe during the day. Stalls are set up where you can buy arts and crafts, fruit and veg, or fudge and maple treats. There are buskers and face paint for children, and lots of open air shops to visit. Eventually, we found a patio and sat in the sunshine, sipping cold drinks and watching other families wander by. It was the perfect Saturday in the capital.
While Ottawa is a very family friendly city, I wouldn’t say that it is stroller friendly. We had to carry the stroller up and down a lot of stairs and it may have been impossible had I been on my own.
I love Ottawa and I can’t wait to go back. There is so much for families to do, see and experience. Aside from the permanent galleries and museums, there are many pop-up activities that celebrate Canadian history and diversity. One is conscious of the historic significance this city holds and the pride in everyone that lives there. And while Ottawa is indeed a city, there is something ‘small town’ about its atmosphere: It feels like everyone knows and respects one another whether they do or not.
I was happy to take my baby boy to see the beautiful sites of our capital city. Travelling with my entire family also meant that I was able to experience different sides of Ottawa.
From our Native roots to the variety of backgrounds, cultures and religions that make up Canada today, Ottawa itself seems to embody the epitome of what it means to be Canadian. A Family Weekend in Canada’s Capital