Ottawa and Gatineau are meant for those who love the outdoors. We’re extremely lucky to have so many ways to enjoy being outside.
Many of us have large backyards. While we may not all have lots the size of those in Lakeview Terrasse or Mountain View, we’re certainly fortunate compared to those living in larger cities like Toronto or Montreal. A place to enjoy fresh air, no matter the level of lockdown, can feel priceless.
In terms of what’s on offer in our communities, sunsets at the Aylmer marina are a wonderfully picturesque way to wind down a summer evening. And of course there are very nice options for yachting and swimming.
The Gatineau park attracts people from all over the region, especially in the fall for the majestic autumn colours. And many have been rediscovering what the Gatineau park has to offer in terms of winter activities. We’re all used to skating on the canal during the coldest months, but many of us now have a renewed appreciation of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Others have enjoyed newer trends such as snow cycling with fat tires.
Regardless of the season we have a wealth of trails to choose from, both inside the park and out. Perhaps the most well-known are those that go along either side of the Ottawa river. Taking one side to go and another to come back via the Alexandra and Champlain bridges gives us the serenity of the forest combined with the beauty of the Ottawa riverbanks and inukshuks. Yet there are also less-travelled options. Crossing the plains and marshes of Ironside and listening to the chorus of birds singing with the crickets. Heading past the islands at Pointe Gatineau with just the right cloud cover so the sun’s rays peak through, making the area seem almost like a fjord. We can also explore parts of our own neighbourhoods that we’d never noticed, such as Lynn Street in Deschenes with its Victorian style homes built less than thirty years ago, or the quiet alleys of New Edinburgh. With journey options ranging from an hour to a whole day we can discover something different whenever we jog or cycle.
For children, Aylmer has playgrounds pretty much everywhere. They provide great options for getting kids away from screens, and are almost never crowded. The playground of Parc des Petits Seigneurs is perhaps the best kept secret of all, with one of Aylmer’s loveliest and grandest trees. This eastern cottonwood provides wonderful shade, a great option for a picnic area on hot summer days.
Gatineau and Ottawa are especially fortunate because we have all of these outdoor vicinities along with the services, shops and job opportunities of a larger city. Everyone has their own unique list of favourite things to do outside, but we can all certainly agree on this - we’re very fortunate to live in a place that has so many options to take in fresh air. With indoor activities in short supply, it’s a good reminder of how lucky we truly are.