A dirt cheap winter in the Outaouais
It's finally here! It took a while so let's not complain about the cold or the snow. You see, in order to enjoy winter, one has to take advantage of it. With so many inexpensive possibilities, there's absiolutely no reason not to enjoy winter in the Outaouais, or at least give it a chance. Need proof? You got it!
Winter is best enjoyed outside…
Anything more rewarding than coming back inside after playing in the snow and putting your boots by the heater, making yourself a nice warm cup of hot chocolate and crashing in front of a fire/movie/board game while watching the last rays of sun glistening on the snow through a frosted window? Quite the experience, isn't it? But in order to fully appreciate this moment, you need to have previously lived the thrill of playing outside.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
You can also enjoy the snowshoe trails at Mont-Cascades (access from the parking lot) and Mont Morissette. Speaking of Mont Morissette, the Municipality of Blue Sea has a superb ski trails network that you can enjoy, gratis!
If snowshoeing is your thing, why not use it to discover the wildlife of Gatineau Park? By registering for "Animal Tracking on Snowshoes", you get the equipment and access to the trails for free, and a guided expedition to learn more about the furry critters populating the park.
Tired of going round and round the neighbourhood rink, when it's not overtaken by the NHL (Neighbourhood Hockey League)? You're due for some serious lengths (and widths... there's enough room!) on world-class skating rinks! The Rideau Canal needs no introduction and the Ruisseau de la Brasserie (Brewery Creek) has made quite the name for itself since it reopened last winter. Not only will you unwind your legs, you'll also have many activities in which to take part. Howe'ver, before you go, please check the ice conditions. We wouldn't want anybody to give winter snorkeling a try against their will.
On Saturdays and Sundays starting January 16, Rideau Hall invites you on its legendary skating rink. It's not everyday that you get to skate in a majestic estate that's seen royalty and heads of state by the hundreds! By the way, January 16 is their annual Winter Celebration, with activities that truly represent Canadian winters.
Le Patro de Fort-Coulonge also has a 3km rink for a good skate surrounded by nature. See for yourself how beautiful the countryside is in the Pontiac in winter.
If your hair is going to be all messed up for wearing a toque all day and your nostrils are to be filled with ice, might as well make it worth it!
… but being inside can still be fun!
Understandably, you might not always feel like wearing long johns, heavy boots and gloves over gloves. Yet that doesn't mean you have to stay indoors browsing the channels a hundred times before settling for a cheesy TV movie. There are ways to be stimulated while staying warm, even during the cold season.
The region's various art galleries are opened year round and they'll make you discover talent both local and foreign.
The Museum of History, the War Museum, the Museum of Nature and the National Art Gallery are free on Thursday nights, the former two from 4pm to 8pm and the latter two from 5pm to 8pm. The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum are also free of charge from 4 to 5pm daily.
Just a reminder that the Museums of History, War, and Nature will be closed from January 4 to 8 for their annual maintenance.
Events not to be missed!
In February, the IceHogs will be in town to celbrate Winterlude. For three weeks, downtown Ottawa and Gatineau will live to winter's beat. Snowflake Kingdom, in Gatineau's Jacques-Cartier Park, becomes the continent biggest snow playground and all the family will love sliding, admiring snow sculptures, losing themselves in a snow maze ans much much more.
The City of Gatineau also offers days of free winter fun, like January 23 at Lac Beauchamp, where lumberjack competitions, folk music and sleigh rides await. A skating challenge will be held there the very next day. Also on the 23, there's an ice-fishing contest at the Aylmer marina, with all kinds of family activities.
As always, you can go to www.outaouaistourism.com for more ideas. Now turn off the computer, get these boots on and go enjoy winter!
Cover photo: Natalia Barreto