Archive for May, 2011

Beautiful, sunny, hot days like this are something to be treasured. To truly appreciate this gift, I headed over to the Britannia Village neighbourhood.

My destination was the forest and wetlands of Mud Lake Conservation Area. It’s a prime birding area and is also home to turtles, frogs, ducks, foxes and racoons.

The combination of amazing weather and bodies of water are highly alluring so I then followed the Ottawa River Bike Path to Britannia Beach. Sailboats, sunbathers, cyclists – what a glorious day!

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Crab apple blossoms

Prince of Wales is one of the Ottawa streets that I quite like. The trees are in bloom and the area is infused with lovely spring growth and colour. It’s major downfall is the constant procession of traffic! The Canadian Agriculture Museum, Ornamental Gardens and Arboretum, which are part of the Central Experimental Farm, and the Fletcher Wildlife Centre are situated in the Dow’s Lake area. I wandered around this area today for the first time… and along the the Rideau Canal path.

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Single digit temperatures … rain and more rain. I hope this isn’t typical of Ottawa.

At least Sunday was dry … cool but dry. I walked around Commissioners Park enjoying the tulips and the promise of warmer weather … so did a lot of other people. It’s the halfway point of the tulip festival.

I was enchanted with the whimsical Mona Lisa tulips. Bending, swooping and reaching … they  seem energetic and carefree. More like birds than plants! I’d like to be in a field of them … on a warm, sunny day! Dancing and tiptoeing in the breeze.

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The Canadian Tulip Festival continues and what a difference a few days makes in the life of a plant. Bold, strong, sculptural. The beds at Major’s Hill Park are a wonderful explosion of colour. Quite irresistable after a long, cold, grey winter.

Back in the 1630s, during the economic bubble known as tulipmania, a single tulip bulb fetched prices greater than a craftsman’s annual salary, or, approximately 30-50K in today’s dollar! Fortunately, that bubble busted and the bulbuous plant can be enjoyed by all.

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The Canadian Tulip Festival runs May 6-23, 2011. According to the festival’s website, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands gave Ottawa 100,000 tulip bulbs in appreciation for safe haven during World War II.

There are now over 1 million tulips in the National Capital Region and the largest concentration is in Commissioner’s Park at Dow’s Lake.

I visited this venue today. Many of the plants are not yet in bloom; nonetheless, I enjoyed the explosion of colour as I feasted my eyes on those that were.

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This past weekend was the annual Jane’s Walk and I checked out two of the walks/talks here in Ottawa.

Saturday I ventured over to the Hidden Bronson: Bicycles, cafés, and violins walk, led by Carl Stieren and Caroline Brown. Bronson is a noisy unappealing street and not what you think of as a liveable, pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood, although, I was pleasantly surprised by the neighbourhood feel of the side streets. As soon as I stepped off the bus I noticed a group of people preparing the soil for a community garden. We started by the True Loaf Bread Company on Gladstone. This “strip” mall is home to a few food businesses including an Ethiopian restaurant which I can’t recall the name of; however, the owner graciously provided us with a free, absolutely delicious, snack to start our walk. I haven’t had Ethiopian food in a while and truly enjoyed it! This is a low rent area and the walk highlighted the small business community economic development initiatives in this area.

Sunday I headed downtown for a walk and talk about Ottawa’s Building and Monument Stones, led by Quentin Gall. Quentin is a university lecturer, author, and member of the Ottawa-Gatineau Geoheritage Committee. Large public buildings and monuments seem far removed from the essence of a Jane Jacob’s neighbourhood; nonetheless, this is a highly interesting part of town and the tour was fascinating. From the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill to City Hall, we heard about minerals, fossils, geological periods and the diversity of the sandstone, limestone, granite, etc. that was used in the construction of these amazing buildings, monuments and the canal.

It was an opportunity to learn about and explore more aspects of my new city. I was a little disappointed that the actual walking didn’t cover as much ground as the walks I went on last year in Guelph. The Ottawa walks had higher attendance and more traffic to contend with, although, I don’t know whether this was a planning factor.

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