Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Canadian Author Spotlight: Linda Poitevin Talks About Ottawa + a Giveaway!

Today it's my pleasure to introduce author Linda Poitevin, who is here to celebrate Canada with us! I think it's really fantastic that so many of my guests this month have chosen to talk about Canadian cities. Author Leah Bobet talked about Toronto, author Melanie Cusick-Jones (who's a Brit, by the way) talked about the awesomeness that is Canada in general, blogger Chrystal from Snowdrop Dreams of Books talked about Kingston, and I did my own little post about my favourite Canadian cities. Today Linda's going to talk about another of my favourite cities: Ottawa. She also has an awesome giveaway for you guys!


Top 10 FREE Things to do in Ottawa
A guest post by Linda Poitevin 

Canada’s capital truly is a place of bounty with a thriving cultural community, trendy boutiques, world-class museums, an incredibly rich history, and accessibility to nature all rolled into one (relatively) compact package. The best part? Many of its offerings can be sampled for free. Here are my ten favourite freebie activities: 

1. Rideau Hall – Home to the governor general of Canada, Rideau Hall is a stately, sprawling residence with a fascinating history and beautifully groomed grounds. During the summer, 45-minute tours of the residence are offered in both French and English, providing an anecdotal side to Canada’s past that is both entertaining and informative. Before and/or after your tour, you can roam a goodly portion of the extensive grounds at will. Interesting side note: If the Canadian flag is flying above the residence, the Governor General is away; if the blue flag with the lion on it is there, he is at home. 

2. Parliament Hill – Everyone visiting Ottawa should take advantage of an up-close look at the seat of Canada’s government. Tours of both the East and Central Blocks are offered (each lasting between 20 minutes and an hour, depending on Parliamentary activity that day), along with an outdoor grounds tour. Each is rich with a history that seems far more interesting in person than it ever did in a text book. Indoor tour hours are subject to change without notice, so do check the website before you head over. If you prefer not to do a formal tour, you can still visit the grounds (including the feral cat community), admire the buildings and many statues, visit the Centennial Flame and Peace Tower, watch the changing of the guard (daily at 10:00 a.m.), and snap photos of a scarlet-clad Mountie astride one of the RCMP’s world-famous black mounts. 

Canadian Parliament Buildings {Source}
3. Museums – If you’re a museum buff, three of Ottawa’s best (The Canadian War Museum, The Canadian Museum of Nature, and The Canadian Museum of Civilization) offer free admission on Thursday evenings between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. Whichever one you choose to visit, try to arrive at 5:00 so you can take advantage of the full three hours there…you’ll need it. 

4. National Gallery of Canada – If you’re into art, a trip to the National Gallery is a must. The building itself is an architectural jaw-dropper, and its contents are fabulous. Like the above-noted museums, the Gallery offers free admission on Thursday evenings from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. (And yes, the infamous Voice of Fire is still hanging there.) 

5. Central Canada Experimental Farm – Canada is the only country in the world with a working farm at the heart of its capital city. That alone would make the Farm worth a visit, so add in its many attractions and you have a true gem of a place where you can spend an entire day meandering. Established in 1886 as a research facility, the Farm has extensive ornamental gardens, a 26-hectare arboretum, a wildlife garden, and an enormous greenhouse complex, all of which are open to the public at no cost. (The Agricultural Museum and animal exhibits, however, do cost.) 

6. Rideau Canal – At 202 kilometers (125 miles) long, the Rideau Canal connects Lake Ontario (at Kingston) to the Ottawa River…and runs right through the very centre of Ottawa on its way. Constructed between 1827 and 1832, the canal has 27 manually operated locks and is the oldest continuously operated canal in North America. The locks are still manually operated and make a delightful place to spend an hour or two watching the boats come and go during summer months. Three of the lock groups (Hogs Back, Hartwell, and Ottawa) lie within Ottawa itself. An added bonus? A ten-kilometer bike path runs along the canal the entire way. 

Rideau Canal {Source}
7. Mosaika Sound and Light Show – Running 30 minutes long, Mosaika is the story of Canada presented through music, lighting effects, and images projected onto the Centre Block on Parliament Hill. It runs during the evenings (at dark) all summer long and is a wonderful way to wind down a busy day. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy! 

8. National Capital Greenbelt – Often called Ottawa’s emerald necklace, the National Capital Greenbelt encircles the city from east to west (the Ottawa River forms the northern boundary) and is a nature-lover’s paradise. Trails for walking, cycling, and even horseback riding abound throughout the belt , and several conservation areas (including Mer Bleu Bog, Stony Swamp, Pinhey Forest, Green’s Creek, Pine Grove, and Shirley’s Bay) highlight particularly interesting ecosystems. 

9. RCMP Musical Ride Centre – The official stables for the RCMP Musical Ride are open to the public from May to October. Even when the Ride is away on tour, you can still visit the facility. There are usually some horses on hand that you can meet, along with riders to answer your questions. 

10. Gatineau Park – While not strictly a part of Ottawa, Gatineau Park is just a few minutes away from the city and definitely ranks on my top-10 list. The park covers an area of 361 square kilometres (141 square miles) and abounds with things to do, places to see, and people to meet. Whether you’re a hard-core cycling enthusiast, a casual hiker, or a beach lounger, the park will almost certainly exceed your expectations. One caveat: while most access to the park is free, there is a vehicle access fee for some of the more popular spots such as beaches ($10.00) and Mackenzie King Estate ($8.00). 

And there you have it…ten amazing things to do for nothing the next time you’re in Ottawa. I hope you enjoy—and let me know if you’re planning to visit! :-)

About Linda: Linda Poitevin lives just outside Canada’s capital, Ottawa, with her husband, the youngest of three daughters, one very large husky/shepherd/Great Dane-cross dog, a cats, two rabbits, and a bearded dragon lizard. Turned down in her pursuit of a police career after a faulty height measurement, Linda vicariously lives out her dream of being a cop through her characters. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found in her garden in the summer, hugging the fireplace in the winter, or walking her dog along the river in any season.

Find Linda online:

Sins of the Angels {GoodReads || Amazon || Book Depository}
Sins of the Son {GoodReads || Amazon || Book Depository}

Thank you so much for this awesome post, Linda! Ottawa is such a beautiful city, and I have many fond memories there - family trips to museums with my parents and brother, trips with my two best high school friends to Winterlude and Stars on Ice, a couple of overnight girls' trips, and a trip to see U2 in concert. There's so much to see and do all year round.

Linda has very generously donated a signed copy of Sins of the Son to one lucky international reader!

When homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis sees a photo of Seth Benjamin on a police bulletin, she knows that Heaven's plan to halt Armageddon has gone terribly wrong. As the only mortal who knows of Seth's true nature, only she can save him. Aramael was a hunter of Fallen Angels until a traitor forced him into earthly exile. Now, with no powers and only a faint memory of Alex, his mortal soulmate, he will stop at nothing to redeem himself-even if it means destroying Seth in the name of the Creator...

Giveaway Guidelines:
*Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. There’s one free entry where all you have to do is click Enter - the rest are optional and get you extra entries.
*This giveaway will end August 3rd at 11:59 PM. Winner will be contacted and will have 48 hours to respond before I pick another winner. 
*Open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post has been part of the Canadian Spotlight Month. Click the graphic below to check out the schedule and all things Canadian here at Ramblings of a Daydreamer. 


  1. I think I need to make a trip to Ottawa and check out a few of the places on this list. I don't live too far, so perhaps a day trip in the near future.

    Thanks Linda for the great list and the chance to win a signed copy of your second book! :)

  2. So, I've been to Ottawa a few times - my family used to go on March breaks and my dad and brother would go see an Ottawa Senators hockey game while us girls shopped - but I've never visited the sites... and I really want to, especially after reading this list! I'd love to visit Rideau Hall and Parliament as I have an interest in politics. I've never heard of the Experimental Farm, but it sounds cool! I should take my mom one day, she loves gardening :)

  3. A day-trip is a great idea, Chrystal -- though more that one may be in order because there's so much to see here! Hubby and I are heading to Kingston for a day soon, too. We love it there!

    Rachel, your mom would love the Farm...the ornamental gardens are gorgeous, the greenhouses are HUGE, and the arboretum is the loveliest place for a walk and a picnic. And I highly recommend Rideau Hall, too...just discovered that one myself after living here for 26 years! :)


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