How to Love an Ottawa Winter

“There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing,” is a Scandinavian proverb that perfectly summarizes the Nordic approach to their long, cold, and dark winters.

Rather than letting the season get them down, many people there embrace it, enjoying the fresh air, outdoor activities, and warm get-togethers that make winter not just tolerable — but something people look forward to.

Our Ottawa winters aren’t quite as long or dark as those of our friends in higher latitudes, but our months of low temperatures and abundant snow bring lots of unique opportunities for skating, skiing, tobogganing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and endless other activities that we can’t enjoy any other time of year. Thanks to Winterlude, our city is world-famous as a destination for winter fun.

Family day is soon approaching - why not try any of the following outdoor activities, no matter what Mother Nature has in store for us?: 

Skating: In classic Ottawa fashion, plan to skate on the Rideau Canal Skateway and bring some money for a delectable beaver tail. Alternatively, try out the Lansdowne Park Skating Court if a rink is more your style. And, for a more rustic experience, try a skating trail like RiverOak - just be sure to reserve a time slot early as spots fill up fast!

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Tobogganing: Whether you have kids or not, tobogganing is sure to offer you a thrill like no other. Better yet, it’s free if you have a sled already, and hills are accessible throughout the city. Just be sure to exercise caution and to wear the appropriate safety gear so that everyone is still smiling when you’re done for the day.

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Build a snowman or ice fort: With enough snow on the ground, the possibilities are endless. In fact, check out this colourful ice block masterpiece where the Pattemore family has been channeling their creative energy.

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Feed the birds: Channel your inner Disney prince/princess by packing some seeds and going for a leisurely hike along the Mer Bleue or Jack Pine trails (among others in the city).

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Go on a miniature gnome hunt: You read that right. Miniature gnomes have been hidden throughout the city - anywhere from Kanata to Orléans, and in Barrhaven and Stittsville. Hints on their locations are posted to the following Instagram account: @findinggnomey. If you find one, you get to keep it!

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On the flip side, having less sunshine and heat also increases your energy use, from the electricity decorating your porch or lighting up your backyard hockey rink, to watching a movie by the fireplace, and heating your hot tub to chase away the chill.  Thankfully, there are many ways you can add more energy conservation and safety to your enjoyment of Ottawa’s winter:

  • Install outdoor lights on a sensor or timer, so that they are only on when needed
  • Unplug decorative lighting when you’re not at home or during the night
  • Use LED floodlights, flashlights, and other outdoor lights whenever possible (they use far less power than incandescent or halogen bulbs)
  • Be mindful of proper installation and maintenance of outdoor wiring, especially around the moisture created by melting ice and snow (not to mention that hot tub!)
  • Open up your curtains to take advantage of the light and warmth that these shorter days have to offer
  • Have a wood-burning fireplace? Be sure to close the flue damper after the fire is completely out in order to prevent heat from escaping your home

You can learn more about winter safety tips at our Outside The Home page. For conservation ideas, visit the Save Energy section of our website.

We hope these activities (and energy tips) bring some much needed joy and respite to you and your family members’ hearts as we fare through the remainder of this winter season. 



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