On my last full day in Ottawa (Saturday, May 26), I decided to go to start the day with the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. This is another highlight of Ottawa, but one that I only had a passive interest in and wasn’t sure I was going to go. But, when Saturday hit, I wanted to fill the day with more adventures, so I decided to go for it! And I’m glad I did. It was super interesting!
This was another affordable museum. I paid about $10 USD for a college student ticket. One thing I really like about Canada is that I find a lot more college discounts than back home.
I started off with a 45-minute guided tour through some of the highlights. It was really interesting learning about aviation history through a Canadian lens. We saw the first airplane developed in Canada (around the time of the Wright brothers) as well as original fighter and training jets from WWII. Here’s a floor plan and a detailed directory of the aircraft currently on display:
Courtesy of https://ingeniumcanada.org/casm/visit
A lot of this was over my head, and I’m sure people who are more of a history buff or interested in aviation would have learned a lot more and engaged more. But, I definitely still enjoyed it, and I’m glad added it to my list!
The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada’s national natural history and natural sciences museum located in Ottawa, Ontario. This is another top site in Ottawa and one that I had passive interest in. I was looking for something fun to do on a Friday night, and I decided I didn’t want to go clubbing and spend my last full day in Ottawa hungover, so I decided for something a little more low-key. Upon doing some Internet searching of top nightlife activities and destinations in Ottawa, I found something called the Nature Nocturne. Here’s the description from the website:
When darkness falls, the Museum comes alive in the most exciting Nature Nocturne season yet. Explore galleries after hours, engage your curiosity with amazing activities and enjoy some great music and mingling. It’s Ottawa’s coolest night out—an unforgettable experience that moves the body and stimulates the mind.
This event is held once a month at the Canadian Museum of Nature, and I was surprised that the monthly event for May happened to be on the Friday that I was there! If you’re in Ottawa on June 29 or August 24, 2018, you’ll also have the opportunity to check this out (click links to buy tickets)!
I bought the ticket the day of, and it was emailed to me within 20 minutes (unlike American Airlines who still hadn’t emailed me my ticket within three hours and wouldn’t let me on the flight — #notbitter). I paid $25 CAD ($22 USD) for the night. On a normal visit, tickets are around $11 USD, so another affordable museum!
After I finished at Le Nordik Spa-Nature (see blog post here), I headed downtown to the Parliament Hill area for dinner, and then headed over to the CMN around 9:00 PM.
So I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to drink, and I finally decided to go for it, but then my credit card wouldn’t work in the ATM because I don’t have the PIN I need, so I guess the universe told me to save the wellbeing of my stomach and just chill out for the night!
I took time to look around some of the exhibits, which was nice. Some people were there in “going-out” attire and very interested in the drinking and dancing, but quite a few people were engaged in the four or five floors of exhibits! The museum has five floors with very in-depth exhibits! I paid special attention to the special brain exhibit and the solar system. I liked the option to switch between (mostly) quiet exhibits and an educational experience and then the nightlife feel of it and the dancing and music.
Photos from various exhibits:
They had two special areas set-up, one with couches and a bar and music for general socialization, and then a big dance floor with a DJ and another two bars right downstairs.
The next stop on Wednesday was the Canadian War Museum, one of Ottawa’s highlights. The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum regarding military history “from the first recorded instances of death by armed violence in Canadian history several hundred years ago to the country’s most recent involvement in conflicts” (Wikipedia). I paid $13.00 USD for the museum and spent about three hours there.
There are 3,000,000 artifacts and items in their collection and 500,000 annual visitors. The museum has its origins in 1880 where it was a collection of military artifacts. Its current location opened in 2005. “The Museum’s collections are among the finest military holdings in the world, including rare vehicles, artillery, uniforms, medals, personal memoirs” (About the Museum).
Here are a few of the artifacts that I saw that really stood out to me:
Adolf Hitler’s Car
A piece of the Berlin Wall
Weapons used by the Hutus during the Rwandan Genocide
A fragment of one of the airplanes that flew into the World Trade Center on 9/11
The Regeneration Wall was awe-inspiring. “The highest point in the museum is called Regeneration Hall. This strikingly narrow space features angled walls that tower dramatically over visitors. Rising up with a tightly framed view of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill, Regeneration Hall is a physical representation of hope for a better future” (CWM: The Regeneration Wall).
And here is another round of general pictures from around the museum:
And photos from the LeBreton Gallery, which “contains the most extensive collection of military technology in Canada” (CWM: The Lebrten Gallery).
Wednesday started with yet another attempt at a Parliament tour… I arrived at 9:10 AM, and they were booked until 5:30! I got a ticket and decided to do a few other activities on my to-do list for the day.
First, I went to the Supreme Court of Canada. They have three levels: the trial courts, the Federal Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. The SCC also offers free tours (check on the dates and times because some require a reservation) which was great. The Court was in session, so we were not able to view the chambers. The public gallery was also full, so we couldn’t watch the case directly, but we were able to watch it from the lobby. We learned a lot about the history of the SCC, its creation in 1875, and how it functions today. I will write more about social and political differences between the US and Canada later on! Stay tuned for the Parliament post, too!
After, I decided to walk aimlessly around and explore this part of the city. I found a place to have lunch, stopped into a LASIK clinic for a consultation (whoops, impulse decision anyone?), and then found myself suddenly near the Ottawa Locks! This was beautiful, and I took a few moments to just be mindful by the water before I headed to my next stop….the Canadian War Museum, one of Ottawa’s highlights!
After crossing the Ottawa River and entering Gatineau, Quebec, I took my first stop at the Canadian Museum of History. This place was huge, which makes sense as Canada’s natural history museum. The museum used to called the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and its purpose, past and present, has been to collect and study objects regarding the history of Canada and its cultural diversity.