Tourist attractions are plentiful in the capital city; the problem is fitting them all in.
First time visitors will want to allow several days for exploring the many museums and historical sites. Make sure to save time for a skate on the Rideau Canal.
ABOVE: The stunning glass structure of the National Gallery of Canada is most easily identified by the ‘Maman’ spider statue in front.
1. The National Gallery of Canada and The Canadian Mint are just northwest of the bustling restaurant and shopping district known as Byward Market. The gallery focuses on Canadian art featuring works by the Group of Seven, Emily Carr and Alex Colville, but also showcases an impressive display of American and European pieces. Pick up a newly minted or treasured souvenir after a tour at the Royal Canadian Mint.
2. It’s hard to miss the castle-like structure that houses the Canadian Museum of Nature. Kids of every age will enjoy the natural disasters exhibits.
3. New skate chalets, found at varying intervals, make changing and resting much easier on the 7.8 km outdoor skating rink known as the Rideau Canal. After a brisk workout on the ice you’ll be able to enjoy (practically guilt free) an iconic Canadian pastry known as the beavertail. Best enjoyed with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
4. Rideau Hall is home to the Governor General of Canada and, in turn, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II when she’s in town. It’s the only official residence open to the public and it’s worth a visit, especially if you’re prone to royal fever.
5. On the edge of the Rideau Canal, in the downtown core, the National Arts Centre attracts prominent theatre including Broadway productions and notable performances in a variety of mediums. Annual tickets to shows like The Nutcracker or Handel’s Messiah are a family tradition for many local residents.
“Subtly sophisticated is the best way to describe Ottawa’s unique mix of gothic architecture, slick condos and trendy neighbourhoods,” says Mary Taggart, the editor of Ottawa at Home magazine.
The design scene is equally eclectic. Shoppers can expect an intimate experience while perusing the city’s best boutiques for seasonal accessories and furniture finds.
1. Details Home Apparel offers complete design services in addition to showcasing an excellent selection of custom furnishings, carpets and wallpaper. During the holiday season shop for decorative tableware and seasonally inspired décor items.
2. You’ll find Mikaza Home’s flagship store just across the Ottawa River in neighbouring Quebec. They also have a smaller shop on Bank St. in Old Ottawa South. For moderately priced contemporary furniture and a good selection of trendy accessories, check out Suede Contemporary Interiors, in the chic village of Westboro.
3. Shoppers with sophisticated tastes will love Champagne dit Lambert in Old Ottawa South. The owners have a refined vision for silverware and high quality furnishings. If vintage finds inspire you then head over to Architectural Antique Warehouse in the Lebreton Flats area. You’re likely to find a silver brush and comb set alongside of a neon bar sign. The goods range from modern to retro-quirky.
ABOVE: Ottawa at Home magazine editor Mary Taggart does some early shopping at Westboro Village Tivoli Florists.
4. Tivoli Florists is an ideal stop en route to dinner with friends. This popular boutique takes holiday décor very seriously. Further down the road, in the village of Wellington West, find Thyme & Again Creative Catering. With a reputation for high-end Indus Catering and gourmet take-out their storefront is a festive mix of delights.
5. In the east end of town you’ll find Jacobsons, the perfect spot for a hostess gift. It’s also the ultimate drop-in for foodies. Warning: you may have trouble leaving without making at least a couple purchases.
For a small city Ottawa features an abundance of first class dining options, though many are a well-kept secret as far as the locals are concerned.
Follow Dabble’s picks for a memorable week of meals in the capital city.
1. The Wellington Gastropub has an infectious vibe that makes it one of the most sought-after places to book a table. Busy every night of the week with success that can be attributed to dedicated owners Chris Deraiche and Shane Waldron and their attention to an ever-changing menu.
2. A lively neighbourhood hotspot Fraser Café is on the edge of upscale Rockcliffe Park. Brothers Ross and Simon Fraser offer fresh, local food served simply in a casual setting. Their brunch menu has earned them a solid reputation with the weekend crowd.
3. Town owners, Marc Doiron and Lori Wojcik, are a married couple that combine their passion for art and food beautifully in a bustling, atmospheric restaurant in the Golden Triangle neighbourhood. Featuring locally grown food, the commitment to fresh deliciousness is evident in every dish served.
4. Perhaps the most sophisticated of the top five spots, Beckta makes Ottawa proud. A world-class sommelier owner Stephen Beckta and his partner, award winning executive chef Michael Moffatt, can take on Manhattan. In typical Ottawa style there are no pretensions just haute cuisine served in elegant simplicity.
5. Atelier’s celebrated owner/chef Marc Lepine artfully creates food worth savouring in an atmosphere that encourages lingering. The innovative tasting menu at Atelier is considered molecular. Diners come for an experience and are never disappointed in a restaurant known as one of Canada’s finest.
In Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, politics play a leading role. The parliament buildings take centre stage downtown while the Prime Minister and Governor Generals’ residences face off on Sussex Drive. For a small city, architecture makes a big statement and yet, it’s the capital’s natural setting that leaves a lasting impression on visitors.
With four season offerings for the outdoor enthusiast Ottawa is a year-round destination. But none can deny the magical charms of winter in the capital. Christmas lights emblazen the downtown core as temperatures drop, turning the lively Rideau Canal into the world’s longest outdoor skating rink.
A large family demands a big makeover. Fortunately, Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting has the talent and muscle to satisfy such a tall order. When the CEO of one of Toronto’s largest and leading luxury condominium developers approached cofounders Tania Richardson and Melandro Quillatan, he was looking for an update as well as a strategy for developing a home that supports the needs of his wife and three teens.
The first floor of this century-old, 3,500 square foot home in Lawrence Park, Toronto is much improved these days owing to its recent renovation which resulted in an improved aesthetic and functionality. The initial lack of architectural interest and weak flow was transformed, resulting in what is now a more current and transitional design.
“Select a neutral palette to provide longevity. Decorative lighting, art and accessories arethe elegant finishing touches.”
Original floors were replaced with wide hardwood planks throughout the main level. In the 375 square foot living room, Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting created several conversation areas, with key furnishings linking them together for larger events.
The living room’s soft colours are reflected in the mirrored coffee table from Cocoon Furnishings in Oakville. The large patterned area carpet from Elte Carpet and Home provides a geometric anchor to the light coloured furnishings. Layers of lighting—potlights, sconces and table lamps—are sourced from suppliers Sescolite, Casalife and Royal Lighting.
The addition of the banquette within the bay window amplifies usable space and provides additional seating, which comes in handy when entertaining.
When choosing furniture and accessories, select hues and undertones that pair well, creating cohesive flow throughout the home.
“To ensure consistency from room to room,” says Melandro, “use a single wall colour, place furniture strategically to achieve comfortable flow, keep wall paneling and any trim consistent.”
This century-old home has never looked better thanks to its much-needed update.
Photography by Larry Arnal
Did you know?
• Québec City was founded in 1608. In 2008, it celebrated its 400th birthday—and she’s more beautiful than ever.
• Kébec is an Algonquin word meaning, “where the river narrows.”
• Québec City originated as a fur trading post.
• The United States of America tried unsuccessfully to capture Québec City in 1775.
• Poutine originated in Quebec in the late 1950s and is now a staple dish across Canada.
Large Scale Intimacy
Interior designer Eric McClelland of Fleur-de-Lis Design Inc. was eager to maintain the retro-modern edge of this urban Toronto home. With his client’s wishes for minimal colour firmly established, he set out to improve the functionality of the main rooms while respecting the home’s inherent architecture.
Ask anyone in a small condo if they’d like more space and the answer is likely a resounding ‘yes’. But extra large rooms have their own challenges.
“By dividing the long family room into two distinct seating areas,” says Eric, “we were able to create a more intimate scale for family gatherings and conversation.”
An extreme change of ceiling height (from 9 to 18 feet) provided another challenge, easily solved by strategically positioning nine hanging mirrored orbs to create a visual balance between the adjacent areas.
Using a simple palette of smoky taupe on the large upholstered pieces provides warmth and comfort without distracting from the room’s best commodity, an impressive art collection. Bright fuchsia toss cushions are a single nod to the client’s favourite colour.
To create more usable space, appliances were relocated within the renovated kitchen and desk space was allocated to an underutilized adjoining hallway. The Lagos Blue limestone anchors the setting by providing a warm contrast to the all-white kitchen.
“Previously, the lighting was comprised of giant pot lights, making a Swiss cheese effect on the ceiling.” says Eric. “To modernize the lighting plan, we introduced multiple MR 16 store fixtures and recessed pot lights into simple architectural coves.”
- Group AR bulbs in a series of three or four to create a single architectural fixture, avoiding a sea of pot lights.
- Drop a ceiling when necessary to add cove lighting, which tucks up into ceilings.
- Light sources with rotating heads offer flexibility, allowing you to put the focus on artwork or noteworthy collections.
“I am a firm believer in the psychology of great design.” ~Jennifer
Jennifer’s challenge was to create a 240 square foot office / showroom / living room to be shared by children and a busy working mom and her staff.
Located in Markham, Ontario, Jennifer Brouwer Designs is a showroom office where clients are invited to visualize the endless possibilities of a design project. Though Jennifer selected a palette her three children love, the Burberry inspired focal wall and fire engine red accessories are all her.
Through a full scale renovation, Jennifer wanted to show staff and clients that starting with great bones and good furniture gives you the freedom to transform spaces with paint and accessories. Jennifer says, “Once Valentine’s Day passes, I can swap the large heart painting by Una Johnstone with something more fitting for spring.”
Jennifer hired Barbara Rocha from Paint a Lifestyle to create the large scale Burberry inspired striped wall using Black Iron (2120-20), Exotic Red (2086-10) and Litchfield Gray (HC-78) from Benjamin Moore. The pattern is applied on one wall while the others (including the ceiling) are painted black; allowing decorative elements to pop. When using bold patterns and colours, says the designer, less is more. “What you omit from a room is as important as the things you include.”
Photography by Donna Griffith