5 Best Photo Opportunities in Ottawa
As Canada's capital, Ottawa is home to national landmarks galore: Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, and many others worth a photograph or two. But you'll also find charming corners that have nothing to do with the city's political status. Here are some of our favourite photo spots.
Classic Ottawa Photo Opportunity: Centre Block, Parliament Hill
Almost every visitor to Ottawa ends up at Parliament Hill-and with good reason. In addition to being the seat of Canada's government, it's one of the city's most beautiful architectural sites. Highlights inside the Centre Block include the arched rotunda and the Senate chamber with its crimson-upholstered chairs. Bring a zoom lens to capture the stained-glass windows in the House of Commons chamber. And save enough room on your memory chip for the Centre Block's crowning glory, the two-storey, circular Library of Parliament, with its intricately-carved white pine panelling, arched Gothic windows and marble statue of a young Queen Victoria.
Hours: Mon-Sun 9AM-3:20PM from September 7-May 15; Mon-Fri 9AM-7:20PM, Sat-Sun 9AM-4:20PM from May 16-September 5. (Hours are more limited on weekdays when Parliament is in session.)
Notes: There is no parking on site. Visitors must take a guided tour, which is free. From mid-May to early September, get your tour ticket at the Info-Tent between the Centre Block and the West Block. During the rest of the year, go to the Visitor Welcome Centre at the Centre Block's public entrance.
Parliament of Canada
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A9
Scenic Ottawa Photo Opportunity: The Rideau Canal
During the Canadian Tulip Festival each May, the Rideau Canal is lined with beds of tulips and lively with events like a flotilla of decorated boats. On Canada Day (July 1), it's the perfect foreground for the fireworks show on Parliament Hill. In winter, you can photograph crowds of skaters. (Extra bonus: In December and early January, nearby trees are festooned with Christmas lights.) One of the best vantage points is looking north from the Laurier Avenue bridge (between Elgin and Nicholas streets), where your view will include Parliament Hill, the National Arts Centre and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Bring a tripod and a cable release to get lovely long exposures at night.
Rideau Canal National Historic Site
34 Beckwith Street South
Smiths Falls, ON K7A 2A8
Quirky Ottawa Photo Opportunity: Newport Restaurant
If Elvis lives, this is where he would come to get his pepperoni fix. It isn't fancy, but the pizza is great. Owner Moe Attalah is an unabashed fan of the King, and every spare inch is cluttered with Elvis memorabilia. The restaurant is also the headquarters of the Elvis Sighting Society, a tongue-in-cheek group that raises money for charity. Don't miss the city-installed street sign on the little alley behind the restaurant: Elvis Lives Lane.
Hours: Mon-Fri 7AM-11PM; hours vary on weekends.
334 Richmond Road
Ottawa, ON K1Z 6X6
Food Lovers' Ottawa Photo Opportunity: Byward Market
From early spring through late fall, the Byward Market is a riot of colour, motion and life. You'll find farmers unloading fresh veggies and flowers from trucks, shoppers haggling over strawberries and spinach, and tie-dyed craft vendors hawking woven Guatemalan purses. Even in December, there are piles of pine wreaths and stacks of fresh Christmas trees. And that's just the farmers' market section; the wider neighbourhood is home to countless shops, bars and restaurants, which makes for great people-watching any time of the day or night.
Hours: Mon-Sun, 7AM-6PM (produce vendors, May-October); Mon-Sun, 9AM-8PM (craft vendors, mid-May to mid-September). The outdoor market is open year round every day but Christmas and New Year's, but activity is limited in winter. Store, restaurant and bar hours vary.
ByWard Market Business Improvement Area
55 ByWard Market Square
Ottawa, ON K1N 9C3
Historic Ottawa Photo Opportunity: Mackenzie King Estate
On his country estate in Quebec, now part of Gatineau Park, wartime prime minister Mackenzie King assembled a collection of "ruins"-bits of demolished buildings that he collected and rebuilt in a pretty outdoor setting. The most unusual piece is a remnant of the Palace of Westminster, which was bombed during the Second World War. Astonishingly, King asked a Canadian diplomat in London-future prime minister Lester Pearson-to ship a few bits of the shattered British landmark back to Canada via submarine. Pearson, even more astonishingly, complied.
Hours: Mon-Sun 11AM-5PM, May 15-September 6; Mon-Fri 11AM-5PM, Sat-Sun and statutory holidays, 10AM-5PM, September 7-October 17.
Mackenzie King Estate
Champlain Parkway, Gatineau Park