a peek inside the fishbowl

08 Sep, 2015

A very Ottawa weekend to cap off summer holidays

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa

The girls are back at school today and I am happy to return to regular routines again.

I love this time of year. Love it. I always feel like September is a chance to start again with a blank slate – refreshed, reinvigorated – ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. I am just waiting for the nights to get a little cooler so I can start wearing sweaters again.

It was crazy hot this past weekend. It felt like I had been suddenly transported to some sticky tropical jungle that was on the verge of being destroyed by a hurricane.

On Sunday the girls and I spent a huge chunk of the day at Bayshore doing the prerequisite back to school shopping. It’s crazy to have left it to the last minute, but it had to be done. Fortunately we were there right when the mall opened, so navigating the Nine Circles of Hell (a.k.a the Parking Lot) was nearly painless.

Yesterday was Mark’s birthday, as well as the last official day of summer holidays, so we felt like we had to unglue ourselves from our air-conditioned environs and do something. Last year on this day we spent the day in Gatineau, this year was Ottawa’s turn. On the agenda: lunch at the King Eddy, the Colville exhibition at the National Gallery, and the Rideau Falls, which, amazingly, we have never laid eyes upon before.

Lunch was fab. I ordered the Big Eric and was not disappointed. (In fact, I am drooling as I type this.) Then we walked to the National Gallery, where, thanks to our membership, we were able to completely bypass the giant line of people waiting to purchase a ticket.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew some of Colville’s art, but had no idea about his life and the stories behind his various works. Well, the NCG delivered in spades. It was so insightful, and I walked away with a much richer appreciation for his art. I can now say I am a fan. I am so glad we went.

Colville at the National Gallery

Also at the gallery is an exhibition by Mary Pratt. Related: I had a great conversation with local artist Barbara Zuchowicz as part of a highly-condensed Q&A for the newspaper about the upcoming West End Studio Tour. One of Barbara’s favourite subjects are jelly jars, and what she said about them stayed with me. She said she paints homemade jams and jellies because the art of preserving is not something we have to do, but it’s something we do out of love. This is what I was reminded of when I saw this painting by Mary Pratt:

Mary Pratt at the National Gallery

It looks like a photo, until you lean in really close.

You’d be mistaken if you thought you were looking at a jar of jam. It’s sunshine and time and love and family. Lovely.

We tooled around for a few hours and then continued our journey to the Rideau Falls. We parked next to the French Embassy on Sussex Drive and walked past the sadly abandoned Canada and World Pavilion. Wouldn’t you love to see this place restored and used for something really interesting? I’m sure we could come up with something, you and I:

Canada and World Pavilion. Now closed.

Personally, I’m thinking it would make a great location for a Canadian photography museum.

The falls are pretty neat, not quite as spectacular as Hog’s Back, but seeing them helps one understand why the Rideau Falls were called the Rideau Falls. Rideau, in French, means curtain. And that’s totally what’s going on here:

Rideau Falls4

This is where the Rideau River empties into the Ottawa River, which is something I haven’t even thought much about, even though the Rideau Canal features so prominently in everything we do here. Doh.

The spray of the water was more than welcome on such a hot day. I think we found the coolest (outdoor) place downtown:

View of the Rideau Falls

Rideau Falls, Ottawa

And then it was time to collapse into the car, crank up the AC, and make our way home to double-check those back to school lists.

2 Responses to "A very Ottawa weekend to cap off summer holidays"

1 | peter

September 9th, 2015 at 8:33 am


Amen to the clean slate of September!

2 | Lynn

September 10th, 2015 at 6:49 pm


I also loved both the Coville and Mary Pratt exhibits – both made me fans of their art and I learned so much. Good job, art gallery!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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