a peek inside the fishbowl

14 Jul, 2017

Rediscovering Gatineau (part 2)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Ottawa|travel talk

In my last post, I wrote about MosaiCanada, a free, must-see exhibition that’s going on right now in Gatineau.

After tromping around the park and admiring the sights my group continued our tour of Gatineau through the city core.* If you’re from the Ottawa-Gatineau region you already know that many government workers are employed on that side of the river. What you may not know is how much the city scene has changed over the years.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and reading about Ottawa’s history, but very little about Gatineau’s history. It is time to remedy that! One good place to start to get to know Gatineau is called the “culture trail.” This 3km walking path (just follow the red line on the sidewalk!) passes by various points of interest such as public art, exhibitions, as well as main attractions such as MosaiCanada. Included along this route are information boards with maps and handy info. (There’s a good blog post about it right here that explains more!)

At some point you’re going to get hungry. Well, there is no shortage of restaurants to visit and there is something for every taste and budget. Our itinerary had us dropping by Le Cellier, which was a bit off the beaten path, but hey, I wasn’t complaining. I was more than ready for lunch and a cool drink.

We were seated on the rooftop patio. The ambiance was picture perfect and the food was pretty good too:

Lunch at Cellier in Gatineau

Lunch at Cellier St. Jacques

Also on the agenda that afternoon: a beer sampling at a brewpub called les Brasseurs du Temps. I’ve been to BDT a few before and recommend it often.

The last time I visisted with the family I ordered a beer called Le Pommier, that had a really refreshing addition of apple but it wasn’t technically a cider. Honestly, it was one of the best beers I’ve tasted this summer. Sadly, this was not on the sampling menu on this day. Ah well. We did get to sample a diverse selection of beer, which was really interesting. Food and beverage samplings are always better when you’re with someone who has the right kind of knowledge to go with it.

Beer 101 at Les Brasseurs du Temps

(It’s my understanding that restaurant patrons can also order flights of beer, but I’m not finding that on their website at the moment.)

The BDT building itself has a long and storied history and if you go you should definitely check out the beer museum downstairs. (It’s free!)

One of the most exciting updates to this particular spot is the addition of canoe rental right there, on the Ruisseau de la Brasserie (Brewery Creek). We split our group in half, got outfitted with lifejackets and paddles, and piled into canoes (in an orderly fashion, don’t worry).

Hey, there’s Becky from Bit of Momsense in the red pants!

History of Gatineau, by canoe

This was a highlight of my day. We are in the city core, yet the sounds of the hubbub and the traffic dropped away almost as soon as the paddles hit the water. Can you imagine? It is a remarkable and unique perspective on this historical city. It was a very easy paddle too. No experience necessary. As a bonus, we got a little history lesson too. What I learned is that I have a lot to learn about Gatineau, also, it’s amazing how fast you can go with lots of people in the canoe!

A history lesson, by canoe

attempted canoe selfie

(Note: the information about Gatineau canoe rental and guided excursions on the Gatineau en Plein Air website is in French only, in case you’re looking for info. I’ve been told the people who offer this service are bilingual, so if you’re keen, call them directly at 819-208-8815 and you’ll get the whole scoop by phone. In English.)

After that, we continued to The Fondarie (211 Montcalm Street in Gatineau), a former industrial building which was repurposed and became the Centre multisport of Gatineau. I’ve been here before, when it was converted to a temporary roller rink. This summer, however, it is home to a temporary art exhibit. There are a number of different artists participating, each with a large scale artwork. Here’s one, by Graeme Patterson, called Infinity Pool:

Infinity Pool, by Graeme Patterson

There are a couple of parts in this multimedia installation. There are resin starlings perched on wires over a group of seemingly typical swimming pools. As you approach, you notice that the inside of each pool is divided into quarters, and there’s a model of a swimming pool inside each one quarter. And THAT is when you notice the water in those smaller pools is discoloured and bubbling in a weird way. Look up. The starlings have been rigged up with their own plumbing to make it seem like they’re pooping in the water. (It’s not actual bird poop though, it’s recycled rainwater and the pumps are powered by small pumps.) This action is triggered by you, the viewer, with motion sensors as you approach. If there’s more people, there’s more poop. The pools eventually reach a maximum level and then the water cycles back into the system and the whole thing begins again.

I thought it was compelling, almost as much as the conversations that resulted. (Is it art? What is art? What does this mean? What is the artist trying to say? If I need the artist to explain it to me, is it still art or is it something else because I see it differently?) LOTS TO THINK ABOUT, for sure.

We finished off the evening with a raucous night at the Casino Lac Leamy – cocktails, snacks, and a turn on the slot machines – which is always more fun as a group. I hadn’t been in years and was happy to revisit.

I’ve had some time to think about my visit since then, in fact, I’m already hatching a plan to bring my family across the river on a sunny weekend. We’ll take advantage of the free park and ride and, depending on how we feel that day, follow the Culture Trail, take in the scenery and hit up all the attractions we’ve scoped out online beforehand OR bike and grab the free STO Shuttle so we can hop on and off wherever we like. That’s exactly the kind of family adventure I like.

Because of the posts I write here, I am often asked about things to do in Ottawa with kids. If you feel like you’ve done everything there is to do in Ottawa, I do recommend looking across the river at Gatineau if you haven’t already. There is really so much to discover there too.

* Transparency alert: I was not paid for this post but as is typical for media tours, my lunch, evening snacks, and any incidentals (e.g. bus fare) were covered by Tourism Outaouais.


2 Responses to "Rediscovering Gatineau (part 2)"

2 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Dinner in the sky (a.k.a. Sky Lounge, the Ottawa edition) - a peek inside the fishbowl

July 23rd, 2017 at 11:03 am

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[…] History Hall, attended the Picnic on the Bridge, poked around Gatineau (you can read part one and two here), and I can’t even remember what else. What’s left on my list: Kontinuum and La […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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