Ottawa’s marketing gets a gold star

12 Nov

Our lovely award statuette. We're told that it's made from one solid piece of diamond.

Heading to Deerhurst Resort is its own reward. The absolutely stunning Muskoka surroundings make for a great venue for the annual Ontario Tourism Summit. After a number of great speakers covering off topics including areas like digital marketing, accessibility, and cooperation between Ontario’s many tourism destinations, we couldn’t be feeling much better, considering a glance outside filled the eyes with a serenely beautiful view of Peninsula Lake.

What really put a feather in our cap was taking home two trophies at that evening’s OTMPC Awards Gala, hosted by Toronto’s always-charming Kevin Frankish.  The award for Best Tourism Advertising encompassed our efforts over 2009, including print, radio, television and online.  You can see one of the winning spots below.

Next came the Culinary Tourism Leadership Award, honouring Savour Ottawa’s efforts in turning Ottawa into a legitimate culinary destination.

Our enormous thanks go to all the partners who make Ottawa the fantastic destination it is for tourists! If you don’t mind, we’re going to go bite down on our award statuettes now–we’re told they’re made of pure 24K gold.

Do you speak Ottawan?

2 Nov

If you’re a visitor to Ottawa, you might not recognize everything that comes out of a local’s mouth. Here’s a guide to some unique-to-Ottawa expressions that you might find useful!

That's "The Château" (centre) and "DND" (right) in the background of this photo of skating on "The Canal." Read the text for a translation!


Some of the expressions are geographical in nature. You should know, for instance, that “The Hill” refers to Parliament Hill, home of the House of Commons and Senate and the core of Canadian democracy.

The Market” refers to the ByWard Market – not just a building, or a one- or two-day-a-week farmers’ market, but a whole neighbourhood. Bounded roughly by Susssex Drive, Murray Street, Dalhousie Street and George Street, “the Market” is home to a 363-day-a-year outdoor market; shops and boutiques; 120+ bars, restaurants and other places to eat and drink; and a thriving residential district.

If you listen to a traffic report, you’ll hear mention of “The Queensway” but they’re really referring to the main east-west thoroughfare–Highway 417. “The Split” refers to the segment in the east end where Highway 174 splits off to head to the neighbourhood of  Orléans while the 417 continues through eastern Ontario and the Québec border.

The Château” (often pronounced more like “shadow”) refers to the Fairmont Château Laurier. “The Canal” can only refer to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal. And “ LeBreton Flats” is the area just outside the Canadian War Museum that is also hosts the fabulous  Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest each July.

Before 2003, the downtown area across the Ottawa River from downtown Ottawa was the City of “ Hull“. But following an amalgamation of several Québec municipalities, the correct name is now Gatineau, though many still refer to Hull (or at least the “Hull sector” of Gatineau).

Ottawa went through a similar amalgamation of 11 municipalities to create a new, larger City of Ottawa in 2001. You’ll still hear people refer to Kanata,” “Nepean,” “Vanier,” and “Rockcliffe Park,” among others, that used to be separate municipalities.


As the capital, Ottawa hosts most of the federal bureaucracy and with that comes a love of acronyms that knows no bounds. You’ll hear talk of “DFAIT” (pronounced DEE-fate), “DND,” “PWGSC,” “PSAC,” “the GG,” “PMO” and more. (For those who are paying attention, that’s the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Department of National Defence, Public Works and Government Services Canada, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Governor General, and the Prime Minister’s Office.)

You might hear those acronyms if you’re hobnobbing in an establishment such as Hy’s Steakhouse or among cabinet ministers’ staffers at D’Arcy McGee’s Pub on Sparks Street, or enjoying your $1 oysters at “Hill Hour” (not Happy Hour) at Métropolitain Brasserie.


Welcome to the Sens Mile, aka Elgin Street.

Ahh, the Ottawa Senators, our local National Hockey League franchise! They’re “the Sens“ and they play at “the Bank” (Scotiabank Place) and you can cheer them on at an establishment on Elgin Street, also known as the “Sens Mile.” If you do, you’ll become part of the “Sens Army.” Some still refer to Scotiabank Place as the “Corel Centre” or even the “Palladium“–both former names of the building. Oh, and “Alfie” is Daniel Alfredsson, the beloved team captain.

Among the university and college teams, cheers on the “Ravens” at Carleton University, the “Thunder” at Algonquin College and, um, the “Gee-Gees” at the University of Ottawa. I’m an alumna, so I can tell you what the heck a gee-gee is: it’s the lead horse in a race.


BeaverTail, anyone? It's not what you might think!

What’s a “chip truck,” you ask? It’s a (usually mobile) truck or cart on the street that serves fast food — usually hot dogs, burgers, fries and “poutine” (French fries, gravy and cheese curds).

Ottawans’ favourite sweet treat is a “BeaverTail” and no, it does not have much to do with the iconic Canadian animal (except that its shape is reminscent of the posterior appendage of the rodent). It’s a hot wholewheat pastry treat topped with a variety of toppings — the most popular of which is cinnamon and sugar.


Ottawa’s “Chinatown” is found on Somerset Street West between Preston Street and Bay Street and “Little Italy is along Preston Street. The French Quarter” is the name given to the former (mostly francophone) municipality of Vanier and “The Village” is the name given to a burgeoning LGBT area of town, along Bank Street (between Nepean and James Streets).

So how ’bout it, Ottawans? Have I missed anything? And for all you visitors out there, are there any terms you’ve heard that haven’t made sense to you? Let us know and we’ll try to help!

Winterlude packages now available!

28 Oct

I know, I know — you don’t necessarily want to think about snow and ice while it’s still October. However, for those of you who plan far in advance, or who know they’re going to be in Ottawa for business or pleasure in February… you should know that our Winterlude packages are now available.

Winterlude is a fun, mostly free festival celebrating winter in Canada’s capital region. Most programming happens on weekends between February 4 to 21 (Family Day), 2011. Skating on the 7.8 km (4.8 miles) of the Rideau Canal Skateway (weather permitting) is a key activity, but so are outdoor performances, snow and ice slides, ice sculptures, restaurant promotions and more!

The Winterlude Family Getaway is aimed at, well, families and includes accommodation at your choice of hotel and a Rideau Centre Savings Directory (for some great downtown shopping!). In addition, you can add on a family visit to your favourite museum: whether it’s the Crazy Kitchen at the Canada Science & Technology Museum or the creepy critters of the Animalium exhibit at the newly renovated Canadian Museum of Nature.

This could be you (or maybe you in the background!) skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway next February.

Meanwhile, the Winterlude Rendezvous for Two also includes accommodations and the Rideau Centre Savings Directory, plus the chance to add on a museum visit (maybe the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Canada, or the poignant stories of the Canadian War Museum) or maybe you’d prefer a $50 gift certificate for Holtz Spa, tickets to an Ottawa Senators games, a meal at Le Cordon Bleu Bistro @ Signatures, or a performance at the National Arts Centre. You choose what works for you!

Hope to see you in Ottawa this winter!

Trick or treat (at 24 Sussex and Rideau Hall!)

22 Oct

Trick or treating at the gates of Rideau Hall

I’m wondering if anyone’s yet told Canada’s new Governor General David Johnston about what’s expected from him in Ottawa for Hallowe’en? He was only sworn in as GG on October 1, and there are certainly a lot of files to cover, but still — he should know!

Every year on October 31, “trick or treaters” of all ages are welcome to visit Rideau Hall – the home and workplace of every Governor General since Confederation — and are greeted by staff (and, in past years, the Governor General herself!) with various goodies! I’ve heard full-size chocolate bars are often the treat of choice.

Former Governor General Michaëlle Jean (with blue wig) and her daughter Marie-Eden as a fairy giving out candy, Hallowe’en 2007.

In fact, just across the street at 24 Sussex Drive, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his family usually distribute candy as well.

Happy Hallowe’en!


Fall colours on display, Hallowe’en around the corner!

13 Oct

I love the autumn! Crisp clear days, great produce at local farmers’ markets and beautiful fall colours!

Fall colours in Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood.

I happened to be walking in the Glebe neighbourhood this morning on my way to a meeting. I was amazed at the orange, red and yellow colours shown in a group of three trees hanging over a residential street — gorgeous! The photo from my BlackBerry really doesn’t do it justice.

Of course, October also means Hallowe’en and nobody does Hallowe’en better than Saunders Farm. This family-friendly farm is located southwest of Ottawa in the small town of…  (wait for it!)… Munster!

There's still lots to see at Saunders Farm if the Barn of Terror is too scary for you!

The farm offers a variety of experiences, from daytime fun that includes hedge mazes, wagon rides through the pumpkin patch, farm animals, a playful pirate ship and a delicious bakery.

At night, though, Saunders really comes to life (or is it life after death???). Not recommended for kids under 10 (or those with a weak constitution!), you can explore the Barn of Terror, take a Haunted Hayride or cheer on the Gathering of the Ghouls!

It’s easy to spend a few hours strolling the grounds. You never know what you might encounter.

And check out Thursday Fright Nights at the Canadian Museum of Nature throughout October! Take a Haunted Tour of the 100-year-old museum building with Haunted Walk of Ottawa (which have a whole series of creepy tours planned throughout the year — with a special focus on October!), and catch a screening of The Shining in the museum’s high-definition theatre! There’s even live music at the on-site Nature Café!

Happy hauntings!

Win a 3-night getaway to Ottawa!

1 Oct

Scotiabank Place, home of the Ottawa Senators. The winner will receive two tickets to attend a game! (Credit: Ottawa Senators Hockey Club)

Feelin’ lucky? Test your skill with the fun new online matching game on Ottawa Tourism’s website.

Find the 10 sets of matching Ottawa photos before the time runs out and then submit your name and contact info to be eligible to win a three-night getaway for two to Ottawa.

And what a getaway!

The trip includes 3 nights at the Novotel Ottawa Hotel (including breakfast), two $100 gift cards courtesy of Rideau Centre, an Ottawa Shopping Magazine, a Rideau Centre Savings Directory, couples Flaming Hot Oil Massage courtesy of Holtz Spa, 2 tickets to an Ottawa Senators hockey game, dinner for 2 (exclusive of alcohol / taxes / gratuities) courtesy of Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa, $50 in slot machines promotional credits, courtesy of Casino du Lac-Leamy, and complimentary admission for two to the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian War Museum. The approximate retail value of the package is $1,500.

Contest closes November 15 — good luck!

Ottawa Gets its Festivals Badge

27 Sep

In Ottawa, we love our Festivals.  Whatever the season, Ottawans are always willing to break the routine and head out to celebrate — and that won’t ever change.

But it’s always nice to get noticed.

So you can imagine how tickled we were when The International Festivals and Event Association (IFEA) decided to pin a very nice badge to our lapel: recognition as a 2010 IFEA World Festival and Event City.

Specifically, the award honours Ottawa’s continued commitment to fostering an extremely positive environment in which unique and creative events can blossom.  IFEA president Steven Wood Schmader explains it best, in the following quote, courtesy of the IFEA official site:

“The IFEA is pleased to recognize and fly the flag of those cities and markets who have worked, through concerted efforts, to provide an environment conducive to successful festivals and events,” said IFEA president Steven Wood Schmader during the presentations. “Through this award, the IFEA hopes to create a dialogue between events and cities around the world, at a time when each needs to be supporting the other more than ever. The quality of all the entries paints a bright picture for our industry and those cities recognized with this award are helping to build a strong foundation and example that we hope all cities, globally, will work to emulate.”

When do the leaves turn colour in Ottawa?

24 Sep

Our Visitor Services people at Ottawa Tourism often get asked this question.

It’s fair to say that usually the peak of fall colours in our area usually comes around Thanskgiving weekend — that’s CANADIAN Thanksgiving (for our American readers!), which is the second Monday of October — however, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate!

The Arboretum at the Central Experimental Farm (located near the Canada Agriculture Museum and Dows Lake) is a riot of colour each fall in Ottawa.

So here are a few tools you can use to keep up-to-date on the progress of the fabulous fall colours:

Ontario Parks maintains a website that shows how the leaves are doing in the various provincial parks throughout Ontario. Click on the Ottawa area on the map in the upper left of the page and you’ll get a listing of various parks in eastern Ontario with an estimate of the percentage of leaves that have already changed.

For Gatineau Park (just 15 minutes north of downtown Ottawa, in the province of Québec), there’s great information on the National Capital Commission’s website, including a handy colour meter.

There are activities planned over the first three October weekends in Gatineau Park as part of the Fall Rhapsody program, that are certain to please.

Now get out there and enjoy the leaves!

Flashmobs – An Ottawa Tradition?

21 Sep

This past Saturday afternoon, folks out for a stroll or sipping an afternoon beer on the ByWard Market’s picturesque William St. were treated to the following impromptu performance of the pivotal final dance number from Napoleon Dynamite, set to Jamiroquai’s Canned Heat:

The flashmob, organized by a collection of both trained and novice dancers, took place outside the market’s popular Sugar Mountain candy store, and as you can see in the video below, drew a sizable crowd of spectators.  But if you think this kind of thing is new in Ottawa, you may be surprised to know that after a bit of searching on Youtube, I discovered that the Capital is developing quite a burgeoning pedigree when it comes to spur-of-the-moment public group numbers. For history’s sake, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a few of the YouTube examples I found kicking around.

This one left more than a few bypassers tightening up their coat collars for warmth. Jump to around 1:16 to get a bit of a laugh from a young witness:

And our popular Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest was home to a impromptu staff-organized performance to AC/DC:

Sure, we may just be getting our feet wet when compared to until we’re quite ready to compete with video below, but I know that the good people of Ottawa are up for a challenge. Keep ‘em coming!

Savour Ottawa Chef/Media Farm Tour #1 a hit!

15 Sep

On Monday, September 13, a couple dozen chefs and media representatives took a ride through Ottawa’s countryside to visit three Savour Ottawa member farms: Acorn Creek Garden Farm, Senior Farm and the Elk Ranch.

Participants met the farmers, took short tours of the operations and learned much more about the local foods movement that is Savour Ottawa. They were also provided with a delicious lunch — using ingredients sourced from the farms on the tour — prepared by Chef Bruce Enloe, owner of The Branch Restaurant.

A second tour is planned for Monday, September 27 heading to farms in the south end of the city. Tours are for Savour Ottawa members and members of the media (unfortunately not for the general public). If you’re interested in attending the September 27 tour, please contact Jantine at media [at] ottawatourism [dot] ca as soon as possible, as spaces are limited.

Enjoy the video: