by Loukia Zigoumis
Growing up, I lived in the south end of Ottawa. I loved the neighborhood, the schools and everything there was to do around that part of town. When I got married and my husband and I were looking for a new house to buy, I never imagined we’d go east. However, we quickly fell in love with the neighborhood of Chapel Hill in Orleans, and now, ten years later, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Orleans is thought to be named after Orleans, France, the hometown of the French heroine Joan of Arc, which also explains why Orleans has a street called Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard. Right across the community, there are a lot of attractions for the entire family. As much as we love visiting all parts of Ottawa, we often find ourselves busy near home. When I need to go shopping, I head to Place d’Orleans Shopping Centre. Right off Highway 417 and easily accessible from many east-end neighborhoods, it’s a popular destination, especially since it’s home to a brand new Target store. Orleans is also home to great restaurants—chain restaurants such as Moxie’s and Boston Pizza, but also some locally-owned eateries and coffee shops, including Cafe Latte Cino between Chapel Hill and Avalon. There are numerous other Orleans hot spots; here are some of our favourites:
Petrie Island: Petrie Island was formed over 10,000 years ago during the last glacial period, and today it’s a popular spot for all ages. We often take our boys for walks along the rocks and shore. In the winter, Petrie Island is the place for ice fishing, crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing, but in the summer it really draws crowds. Lifeguards are on duty for swim time and you can always catch groups of people playing beach volleyball into the early evening.
Proulx Farms and Orleans Fruit Farms: Farm-fresh fun is plentiful in Orleans. Berry picking at Proulx Farms is a yearly tradition for our family, while the farm’s Pumpkin Fest in the fall and MapleFest in spring are also on our to-do list. The Orleans Fruit Farm has been around for decades and it’s a popular spot for families for apple picking in the fall. We go every September. Free admission, tractor rides, apple cider and a play structure make this place a hit.
Millennium Park: This park, just off of Trim Road, boasts play structures, amazing slides for the older kids, huge open fields for soccer games and a wooden pirate ship where the younger kids play.
Orleans is also home to the Shenkman Arts Centre, which is a hub for the arts and entertainment in east Ottawa. As well as offering a variety of art courses and camps for children in drawing, painting, photography, and cartooning, the art centre showcases pottery classes, a theatre school and many events through the year, from live theatre and music to special exhibits and craft shows. If physical activity is more your thing, Orleans’ community centers offer plenty of action. Here, families sign up for tennis lessons, swimming lessons, skating lessons and other activities for both children and adults.
Since the 1970s, Orleans has grown steadily and in answer to the ongoing housing boom, many news schools are being built. As a mother, I also appreciate how close we are to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and I love coming home to a beautiful, quiet neighborhood surrounded by all of nature’s beauty. Orleans offers so much for everyone, we truly do have it all in the east end.