DC isn’t North America’s only national capital with plenty of summertime diversions for visitors. Right now, Canada’s Ottawa has events, sites, and exhibitions for guests, including faith travelers and other culture vultures.
Right now affordable air fares by Porter Airlines out of several U.S. cities make Ottawa a right-now attractive summertime vacation destination for a weekend or longer.
What’s interesting right now for the summer traveler in this picturesque city that’s bisected by the Rideau Canal?
The Ottawa Chamberfest is one of the world’s largest chamber music festivals, and its events and musical styles are on the city’s calendar from July 26 through August 9. On calendar is an array from string to Creole sounds, with many city churches providing the platforms.
Through September 3, the magnificent Canadian Museum of Civilization offers the “God(s) A User’s Guide, an exhibition from Europe that explores the diversity and similarities among mankind’s contemporary religious practices.
Also in this museum is St. Onuphrius Church, a Ukranian church originally from Alberta province. It was constructed during the era of 1830 until about 1930 when many Eastern Europeans immigrated to Canadian prairielands. The church was donated by the congregation and reassembled, complete with ritual objects, décor and furnishings.
While you’re in the museum, be sure to see the First Nations totem poles, prehistoric weapons, textiles and tools of 16th-century New France, otherwise known today as Quebec and other North American areas France colonized in the 16th-18th centuries.
Ottawa’s don’t-miss anytime stops for faith travelers include the Rideau Street Convent Chapel inside the National Gallery of Canada The chapel was part of a teaching convent, and was saved in 1972 from demolition and reconstructed in the gallery. Dating to 1887, its marbled cast-iron columns, altars, balcony, windows and soaring fan vaults are a unique example of Canadian ecclesiastical architecture. Through August 26, Janet Cardiff’s 40 voices of recorded choir music in the space sets a spiritual mood.
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica is Ottawa’s oldest standing and largest church. Located across the street from the National Gallery, its early 19th century construction took 40 years. The interior was completed later, and though it resembles marble, it’s actually painted wood. This church is one of five in Ottawa which display the award-winning creativity of stained glass master artist Guido Nicheri, who was honored by Pope Pius XI in 1933 for his work.
Elsewhere on the culture grid, Ottawa visitors stroll the grounds of Parliament Hill and watch the morning Changing of the Guard. One of Canada’s oldest food stops is ByWard Market. It’s been running since 1826, and its 260 stalls serve up a variety of meat, seafood, and prepared foods. It contains over 80 restaurants, pubs, and dessert stops.
For outdoors activities any time of year, there’s the Rideau Canal. Summertime brings tour boats with guides who narrate the city’s heritage and features, while cyclists cover nearly 100 miles of trail bordering the canal. In the cold months, the frozen canal becomes an ice rink for both recreation and transport.
For trip planning, go to OttawaTourism.