Kids Ski Free this Weekend at Mont Ste Marie for National Ski Day

Mont Ste Marie

Mont Ste Marie

Mont Ste Marie is offering free skiing this weekend to celebrate National Ski Day, which lands on Saturday January 14th!

From MSM:

Snow Report (Kids Ski FREE)
It is National Ski Day this Saturday January 14th and to celebrate and get you out skiing we are offering free skiing all weekend (Saturday and Sunday) to all kids 12 and under.

Ski and snow conditions have never been better. Get a Priveledge Card and save. Look below for the money saving deal for you and your family. Mont Ste-Marie is Ottawa’s biggest and best ski resort. Twice the height of any other ski resort with high-speed lifts means more skiing and no lift lines. Tell your friends.

Snowshoeing at the Arboretum with Kids

Snowshoeing a the Arbs with my Daughter

Snowshoeing a the Arbs with my Daughter

I’ve always loved the Arboretum. It’s another great example of Ottawa’s fantastic downtown green space. But the other other day, it was all white.

After another big dump of snow, the Arboretum was the perfect place to test out the snowshoes that we had picked up at Play it Again Sports.

At 4yrs old, I am mindful of keeping Elsa’s sports experiences short and sweet. Making sure she wants to do it again is top priority. So no, this was not going to be a nice half day trek in the brilliant sunshine and glittering snow. What it was, was about an hour and a half of fun exploring through the trees, checking out the great view at the top of the hill, and just enough of a tease to remember to bring our sleds next time!

Elsa did great. We made our way down one side of the hill, in some fresh powder, comparing how it feels to blaze new trail versus the ease of walking in someones path.

When we went back up to the top of the hill, we breaked for some hot chocolate and a smartie cookie. Once we had refuelled, back down the hill we went, through some brush, with Elsa leading part of the way. We came around the bend to the bottom of the main lookout, and had fun checking out the dozens of sledders having a great time. It really was the perfect day to be outside enjoying the winter. LOVE that winter sun!

After climbing the hill once again, dodging some sledders this time, we meandered through the tall snow covered evergreens. We had fun shaking the snow from the branches to watch them bounce back up after being relieved of all that weight, all of us getting snowed on in the process.

And Elsa was still all smiles once we got back to the parking lot.

Victory :)

Flashback to the Ottawa River and Gatineau Park in the 1940s

I silently lament that many Ottawans don’t consider Ottawa a “river city” or “on the water”. Ottawa essentially grew from the junction of three fairly mighty rivers and surrounded by dozens and dozens of lakes of all sizes.

A friend posted this video on Facebook last week: Ottawa On The River, 1941, and I was really struck by how much of a role the Ottawa, Gatineau, and Rideau river played, not only the industrial sector, but also the the recreational side.

Even cooler was the footage of skiers and trails in Gatineau Park, including an early Camp Fortune.

It’s a bit dated, but what a great flashback to an older version of outdoor Ottawa:


Pricey Rideau Canal Shelters Win Fancy Architectural Award

Rideau Canal Skateway shelters

Rideau Canal Skateway shelters

Yesterday’s controversy is today’s pride, as the NCC’s $750,000-a-piece shelters on the Rideau Canal Skateway won the bronze award for specialized sports, leisure and recreation facilities from the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities and the International Olympic Committee

That’s a mouthful of a title with a heavy emphasis on sports, leisure and recreation facilities, and they believe the NCC and CSV Architects, the architectural firm behind the design, were right on the mark:

“These removable changing and washroom facilities impressed the jury with their design simplicity and attractiveness,” the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities and the International Olympic Committee said. “They show perfectly that even in sensitive environments it is possible to find solutions that make leisure activities more attractive.”

“The jury congratulates the NCC and the city of Ottawa for realizing this project (and) creating a place of healthy living. This example invites other cities around the world to follow this path of enhancing seasonal recreational activities in dense urban environments.”

From the Ottawa Citizen article:

The NCC installed the chalets at the cost of $5.24 million – or about $750,000 for each shelter — four years ago to replace the dilapidated wood structures that had been used since the 1970s.

At the time there was some controversy about the price, with some objecting that the money, which came from the Conservative government’s infrastructure stimulus fund, could have been better spent elsewhere.

The NCC, however, defended the spending, saying that the structures, with their four change rooms and three washrooms, would last 35 years and require lower maintenance costs.

At six-metres wide and 18-metres long, the glass-walled, curved-roof shelters were certainly roomier than the old ones. More than 40 people could sit on the benches inside to put on skates or to defrost. The open porches outside provide seating for another dozen skaters.

Energy-efficient design features included radiant heating panels in the ceilings, fluorescent and LED lighting, and suction system toilets such as those on planes and trains that use minimal amounts of water.

Veteran canal skaters, while nostalgic about the old shacks, appreciated the new shelters, finding them warm, spacious as well as attractive.


Learn to Camp with Ontario Parks

Grizzly Bear Campsite Fun

Grizzly Bear Campsite Fun

If you’re reading this site, chances are you’ve got a yearning for the outdoors. But after years and years of trying to pry some of my friends out camping, I get that the idea of relying on your city-grown wits to navigate a weekend of tenting, lighting a fire, cooking on a camp stove, etc., can seem daunting to the uninitiated. Forget enjoying it – surviving it would be success by many people’s standards.

Well, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way, and Ontario Parks aims to provide that knowledge through their Learn to Camp program. I originally wrote about this program back in 2011 when they first introduced it, and I noticed the other day that they’ve now introduced a “graduate program”, that teaches more advanced camping techniques.

The original 1- or 2- night Overnight Camping Experience, aimed at the 25% of Ontarians who have never spent a night in the woods, provides:

  • All the equipment required to camp (participants are responsible for food, sleeping bag, and personal items)
  • A campsite for up to 6 participants, including children
  • Scheduled learning sessions and family-friendly activities led by experienced staff
  • Access to flush toilets, hot showers and safe drinking water
  • Campfire treats
  • Near Ottawa the course is available at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park, plus: Emily Provincial Park, which is just west of Peterborough.
  • 1 night / 2 day program: $86.00 +HST
  • 2 night / 3 day program: $130.75 +HST

This is a great way for newbies to get started!

And now they can augment their skills further through Ontario Parks by trying the Independent Camping Experience.

The independent camping experience is offered only at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, a solid 5½ hour drive from Ottawa, past North Bay. A long drive maybe, but this experience is your opportunity to practice a camping trip on your own while still having access to all the equipment you need.

They give you the same gear and let you try camping anywhere from 1 to 7 whole nights, but you’ve still got to bring your own food, sleeping bag, and this time firewood and ice, too.

I love this initiative from Ontario Parks to get more people out camping, even though I know it means more crowded campsites – a major pet peeve of mine!

What do you think about this plan? Know someone who should sign up?


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