Ottawa: Time for the Capital

Distance from St Edwards County to Ottawa 272km

After a huge Canadian breakfast onboard, courtesy of our Picton host, we didn’t need to worry about stopping for lunch on the way. In my opinion once you’ve had one Tim Horton’s you’ve had them all. It’s like our equivalent of Greggs. Apart from its on every corner and ever few kilometres along the highway. So basically everywhere!

This was our second longest drive and took around 3 hours. Between the views and Scotts endless repertoire of car games we were there in what felt like no time!

With Ottawa being the capital of the country, I imagined the drive in would be similar to Toronto. In reality it was far more understated.

Ottawa is full of grand Victorian architecture, markets and statues. It’s beautiful!

In all honesty I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Ottawa as much as I did. From reading about it I thought, ‘Sounds pretty but probably not for me’. Wrong! I loved it!

Because we arrived about 1pm, we hit smack bang in the middle of the hottest part of the day, during the hottest day of the week. Trying to explore in over 30 degrees is more like an extreme sport in my opinion.

Armed with my trusty water bottle that I’ve had since the start of our trip (three days later and Scott has left my beloved bottle in a bar somewhere in Montreal, boo) and a DIY walking tour map we hit the streets.

National War Memorial

Even though we had a map, we obviously didn’t entirely end up where we intended. Instead of stopping at Parliament Hill first, we spotted the National War Memorial. It is an incredible dedication to all those fallen in Canadian wars. Standing in the silence looking at the figures, it does bring a tear to your eye. The next second I was jolted back to the here and now with the blast of bagpipes. Yes, it was the changing of the guard.

After ten minutes of marching around the square, the two very hot soldiers left their posts and were replaced with two slightly more refreshed looking fellows. The only visible difference was that the two new recruits had braved their stint without their army-regulation sunglasses… let’s hope someone marches right up there and gives them some.

Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill is, unsurprisingly, the home of the Canadian Parliament. Over 3 million tourists visit every year. I felt a bit sorry for it. I wish it had a bigger fan base. It’s a majestic, beautiful building and I for one am waving a big foam #1 hand for it!

Rideau Canal

In winter the Rideau Canal famously becomes the worlds largest ice rink, stretching for almost 5 miles! As we’d arrived in summer and the middle of Canada’s heatwave, there wasn’t much skating going on but it did make for a very relaxing and picturesque walk.

ByWard Market

So cool! Over 600 shops and stores all selling great food, clothing, trinkets. You name it, it’s here! It’ll be fondly remembered as the place that Scott had his first beavertail and we had the most delicious Indian. It’s all about food with me isn’t it…

Ps. A beavertail isn’t an actual beavers tail. Don’t panic. It’s more like a flat churro which you then pack fun of sinful toppings like Nutella, Reeces pieces and sugar!

Carleton County Jail

Always on the lookout for something a little different, I booked us on a ghost tour of the city’s County Jail. One of North America’s most haunted buildings.

Side note: When I booked it, I genuinely didn’t think about how much I’d freak out…

The tour takes you around the old part of the jail and tells the story of a man named Patrick Whelan who was hung, without much evidence, for the murder of a Canadian politician in 1868.

The ‘whodunit’ search seemed to end as quickly as an episode of Murder in Paradise. Although in this case, he always stated his innocence. You can understand why he haunts the jail…

Visiting the cells, death row and the gallows was made even more creepy by the true life accounts of sightings in the very spot we were standing. Heavy iron doors slamming and locking, shouts and crys coming from long-locked doors, furniture moving and ghostly figures with no faces.

As if this wasn’t terrifying enough. For those ghost hunters out there, they’ve turned half of the old jail into a hostel… They’ve renovated it to a comfortable living standard and all, but who would want to stay here? Bagsy not me.

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