by Pam Dillon

If I’ve been lucky enough to connect with you online, you probably know I’m a showoff. Shameless, really. On Facebook, Twitter and especially on Instagram, I crow about Ottawa’s many distinctions all. the. time. From Sparks Street and the Byward Market to the Lime Kiln Trail, Andrew Hayden Park and the Mer Bleue Bog, I post snapshot after snapshot of local treasures. Oversharing? Probably. But if you’re in any doubt about where I stand in the boring-Ottawa debate, frequently-used hashtags such as #exploreOttawa, #myOttawa and #loveOttawa provide a hint.

Stonebridge Trail is beautiful in all seasons.

To the folks who say Cap City is architecturally lacking or lifeless after 6 p.m., I say get out of your car and your comfort zone. First though, do a little homework. Pay an online visit to love-ottawa.com and apt613.ca. Next, peruse the architectural images by Christopher Ryan at instagram.com/chrisarrrrr and feast on the cuisine photos by Don of foodieprints.com at instagram.com/foodieprints. Finally, look through the shots by locals featured at instagram.com/ottawatourism.

Although I’ve lived here with my family for more than 18 years, I’m still only beginning to discover some of this community’s attractions. They are innumerable. For over a decade, though, I was oblivious. Since the family routine was centred on driving kids to and fro, sightseeing involved chess, badminton and taekwondo venues, plus every arena in the area, from Kinburn to Cumberland. In summer there was lacrosse; in winter there was hockey.

Once my prized chauffeuring gig came to an end, the implausible came to pass. I discovered that—beyond those particular realms—there’s a life and a view. In this fair city they are spectacular. Too bad I didn’t figure that out sooner. Whether you’re heading back and forth to work each day, dropping a teen off at a part-time job or doing the regular after-school run from gymnastics to piano lessons, I urge you to give yourself an extra half an hour, to turn off the ignition and to investigate the area of town. Yes, even in January.  Ottawa is beautiful in the winter, thanks to the magnificent architect Mère Nature.

Monaghan Forest is across the road from Valleyview Little Animal Farm.

Check it out. Go sliding with the kids at a new spot. Walk the dog in an area where you haven’t roamed before. Try hiking and cross-country or downhill skiing on some of the region’s magnificent trails. In these parts skiing is a blast for all ages. When you venture outside your usual route and routine, you’ll discover that, outdoors and in, the nation’s capital is full of marvels. In the woods, you might come upon an award-winning teen filmmaker shooting a scene. At an indoor locale, you may bump into young adults preparing for the third annual Afro-Caribbean Cotillion. And just about everywhere you’ll happen upon people of all ages who are volunteering their time, energy and expertise to contribute to this community.

Here and there and all around, you’ll discover there’s a lot to love about Ottawa.





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