I just went on my first international business trip! I had a training in Gatineau, which is just across the river from Ottawa. Gatineau is part of the Quebec province, while Ottawa is part of Ontario. Despite one side being francophone and the other side being anglophone, you will find both French and English speakers on either side!
November is not the most ideal time to visit this area, because all the summer/fall attractions have closed but the winter attractions like skating in the canal don’t begin until December. Already in the first week of November, the weather was FRIGID! It’s nice to walk around and explore Ottawa, however, I was quickly looking for excuses to go indoors to warm up. This meant stopping for food/drinks, shopping in the Rideau Center, or visiting local attractions. Here are my three favorite indoor attractions in Ottawa.
Ottawa is the capital of Canada and therefore home to the gorgeous Parliament Hill! The Parliament is currently undergoing extensive rehabilitation. However, the temporary sites for the Senate and House of Commons have free tours! If booking tours at both locations, ensure you allow enough time in between the tours – they are a significant distance if traveling by foot!
I toured the House of Commons and it was fascinating! The House of Commons is temporarily housed in a former outdoor courtyard. They built a beautiful glass roof over the courtyard to enclose it. There is a drastic contrast between modern and traditional architecture. The tour guide explained that you can also visit while Parliament is in session!
Musée des Beaux-Arts
The Musée des Beaux-Arts or the National Gallery of Canada is an absolute must-visit! I happened to visit on the opening night of their new exhibit Àbadakone. The museum celebrated opening night with music and performances from the contemporary indigenous artists that are featured in this exhibit. The exhibit is available until April, and I highly recommend it!
In addition to the amazing exhibits, the museum has a huge permanent collection with over 93,000 works!!! The museum has the largest collection of Canadian art, but they also feature artists from Europe and Asia.
Canadian Museum of History
The Canadian Museum of History is in Gatineau, across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill! This is the national museum of human history. The building has a really interesting style of architecture, and features huge windows looking right over the river to Parliament.
Until January, there is a really interesting exhibit about Neanderthals and the misconceptions of this human species.
One of my favorite sections of this museum was the First People’s Hall which celebrates the history of the Métis and Inuit peoples. This hall features over 2,000 historical and contemporary objects depicting Aboriginal culture.
I look forward to coming back to Ottawa during summer months so I can enjoy the Gatineau Park and take a boat tour through Ottawa River!