Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fabulous Family-Friendly Bike Activities

The below list of bike activities which will keep you and your children pedaling through the summer.

1. Sunday Bike Days run every Sunday from 9 - 12 on the Ottawa River Parkway. I like to take one or both of the older boys. Sometimes, I admit we do a ride and then head up to the Harvest Loaf on Wellington for a croissant and coffee (well, coffee for me, anyway).  This weekend we plan to bike down to the Ottawa Children's Festival at Lebreton Flats.

2. Capital Velofest
All the details can be found at but essentially it's two days of bike rodeo featuring games, product demos, bike safety and fun! On Saturday it will be held at City Hall from 11 am to 5 pm and on Sunday from 10-1 at Brantwood Park and at 6:00 in Kitchissippi (see item 3, below).  There is also a Tour de Nuit on Saturday from 5-11 pm. Your bicycle must have both a bell and a light to participate in Tour de Nuit.

3. Kitchissippi Rides to the Inukshuks at Remic Rapids, Sunday June 3, 6 p.m.
In connection with Capital VeloFest, the Cycling Champions are hosting a community biking event. We are encouraging riders of all abilities to bike to the Inukshuks at Remic Rapids. Feel free to bring your own nut-free picnic. John Ceprano, stone sculptor extraordinaire, will host a stone balance workshop for all interested participants. This is organized by Hintonburg Bike Champion Kathleen Wilker who you should read or follow for all neighbourhood things that are bike related. She can be found on twitter at @kathleenwilker and also writes a family blogpost at Momentum Magazine. Her many blog posts about family biking can be found at:

4. Broadview Bike Rodeo - June 15, 4-7 pm, rain or shine

The first edition of this bike rodeo was held last year and featured sessions on helmet fitting, bike care and rules of the road. It also allowed participants to test their bike handling skills on a number of challenges. The kids loved it. This year the events may expand to include things such as skills demonstrations / competitions, a 'bike gallery', bike decorating and/or a parade.  No promises though - this is still in the development stage!

Concepts to be taught at the bike rodeo will be taken from

Doors Open Ottawa - Kitchissippi Style (with Kids of Course!)

If you’re doing Doors Open Ottawa with kids (which I highly recommend!) remember that their attention spans are shorter than yours (likely, anyway!), that they may be in-and-out of buildings quickly, that they may be surprisingly interested in things you did not expect and that they need playtime in between.

The locations below are all in the Kitchissippi neighbourhood, listed roughly from west to east and are a great opportunity to check out our neighbourhood. Locations are open on Saturday, June 2md and Sunday July 3rd between 10am and 4pm unless otherwise indicated.

We have a great neighbourhood with lots of history – have a good time learning about it and sharing it with your children!

The Keg Manor - Thompson House and Maplelawn Gardens- 529 Richmond Road (building open Sunday only) listed separately in the guide but you won’t do one without the other. It's a lovely example of Georgian architecture and the garden (now in full bloom!) is one of the very few walled gardens remaining in the City.  A little further west on Richmond there is another 1840's stone building (now condominiums) that is worth looking at though it's not part of Doors Open.

Westboro Masonic Hall, 430 Churchill Ave., corner of Byron - (open both days but only from 2-4). There's a banquet hall on the main floor and then a more formal room upstairs for meetings of the Masons. If your kids need a play, drop into the Churchill School playground nextdoor. 

The Ottawa Mosque - 251 Northwestern Avenue off Scott Street - We've found the tour here really interesting. Neither I nor the kids had ever been in a mosque. It was informal (there were lots of kids around - both Mosque members and visitors - and the hosts served coffee and Timbits!) and it felt completely appropriate for slightly older children (mine were 7 and 9 at the time). The dome and minaret, which is used to call practising Muslims to prayer, are defining features of the building.

The Protection of the Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Church - 99 Stonehurst Avenue, also off Scott Street and just a little further east than the Mosque (open Saturday only) - This church has beautiful golden onion domes and was built with funds from Russian Orthodox congregations around the world.  It is next door to Laroche Park which has a Splash Pad (!) - and don’t be discouraged - the splash pad is on - you just have to hit the sensors in the right way!

The Parkdale Food Centre, 89 Stonehurst Avenue, (open Saturday only) right beside the Russian Orthodox Church (between it and Laroche Park)  (though google maps seems to suggest it's around the corner near where Stonehurst meets Carruthers). - This Food Bank is celebrating it's 25th anniversary so drop in and wish them a year of success in their endeavours to keep people in the neighbourhood well fed. The Food Bank serves people between Bayswater and Island Park and between Carling and the Ottawa River.  Continue to think of it for donations when you have a little extra on hand to spare. (Note : this photo courtesy of the City of Ottawa).

St. Francois D’Assise Church 20 Fairmont Avenue, corner of Wellington in Hintonburg - we visited this Hintonburg landmark two year's ago and the absolute hi-lite was that they let us play, and then they played for us (beautifully, I might add), the pipe organ. See this blog post for photos!  If you and your kids need a run-around check out Hintonburg Park behind the Hintonburg Community Centre. Like Laroche Park it has a splash pad!

Enriched Bread Artists; the Standard Bread Building, 949, 951 Gladstone Avenue - again these have two separate listings but are in the same building. They are the home of the Standard Bread Company, initially run by Cecil G. Morrison, also known as the Happy Baker. The horses and buggies that delivered the bread throughout Ottawa were stabled in the rear and it was the first place with an automatic bread slicer in Ottawa. The building now houses various artists studios so have a look at the Gladstone Clayworks and the Artistic Bread Artists and what they have to show.

Traffic Operations, Public WorksTraffic Operations - Public Works - 175 Loretta Avenue North - (this is virtually right across from the Standard Bread Building) and is the nerve centre for traffic control in much of Ottawa.  This is the only other one that I haven't visited before but I am hoping to get there this year. I think the boys will find it cool! (Note: this photo courtesy of the City of Ottawa).

Need a play structure at some point for a break? Pay a quick visit to Devonshire Public School at 100 Breezehill Avenue just a block west of Loretta and a block north of Gladstone.

A list of "kid-friendly" Door Open locations throughout Ottawa is available at:  but use your judgment as I’ve certainly found others to be kid-friendly as well.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ottawa to Halifax..with a van

For the past 11 years we have been driving to Halifax at various times with kid (and then kids) in tow.  While we sometimes fly more often we choose the more economical mode of travel.  We have three boys - now 10, eight and two, and as you can imagine entertainment and physical activity en route is critical to each trip's success. 

A few days ago, I scrawled out a quick list for a colleague embarking on his first Ottawa-Halifax drive this summer. I've done that countless times before. So this time I thought I would write them here.  I'm not going to elaborate to much on the various stops but if you have questions feel free to ask!

In order, west to east:
  • Montreal's Biodome or Botanical Gardens; Both of these are excellent. If you want to be outside, try the botanical gardens - the Chinese and Japanese gardens are particularly beautiful in my view. On a rainy day, or if your kids love unique animals, definitely choose the Biodome. Make sure you (and the kids) don't get too tired before you reach the penquins at the end as they are super cute.
  • Old Quebec City
  • Quebec City Aquarium;
  • La Pocatiere rest stop - this is just a rest stop, but more than a rest stop. It has an absolutely beautiful view of the Lower Saint Lawrence river. There is a Tim Horton's on the other side of the highway so you can grab a lunch and have it outside. If the tide is out your kids may want to walk closer to the water - just be careful as puddles can be much deeper (and muddier!) than they look. In case of an "incident" the visitor centre keeps an outdoor hose on hand that you can use to wash yourselves down before getting back in the car.
  • New Brunswick Botanical Gardens (with camping and a pool nextdoor); Beautiful and includes a butterfly room. Great way for kids to run around and be outside in the fresh air.
  • King's Landing - A historical village. If it's very hot I don't recommend it as there is a fair bit of walking between buildings but if it's cooler it's nice.
  • Covered Bridge Chip Factory - this I have always wanted to do but never have. Let me know if you go there!
  • Fredericton - downtown park with awesome huge wading pool that is always open and lots of play structures. As a treat, I also recommend staying at the Delta Fredericton as it is right on the river, has an indoor and outdoor pool and outdoor restaurant. The boy got their first taste of poolside service there last year and were quite impressed that someone would bring them chicken finger while they swam! 'tis a good life. They will also tend to have popsicles available at their outdoor bar/patio.
  • Moncton - Crystal Palace indoor amusement park Sometimes you may need this to get your kids through the drive.
  • Shubenacadie Wildlife Park (off the highway between Truro and Halifax) My kids love this place as there are LOTS of animals to see. Try to go when it's not too hot so the animals are livelier. They sell corn there to feed the ducks/deer etc.
Always travel with a bucket, some clean-up cloths, and water just in case (we also use gravol but our kids are prone to car sickness).

Virtually every town has a school and virtually every school has a play structure when you really need to get those sillies out.

Choose the time of day you travel - what's best for adults may not work with kids. We, for example, do not drive in the morning. We find all the "puppies" need to be exercised before they go in a car : )

Don't always listen to what the kids want to do.  My older boys complained about the botanical gardens and then loved both (there were frogs in the NB one!).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Elmdale School - May 12th - 3 in 1 Spring Event

Elmdale Public School invites you to its exciting new 3-in-1 spring event, Saturday, May 13th from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (cash only) in the school gym, 49 Iona Street (Use Java Street entrance).

1. Clothing, Toy and Equipment Sale: From sunhats to strollers, jeans to tricycles… This sale includes quality, gently-used children's clothes, shoes, outerwear, puzzles, games, strollers, bikes, baby gear, and more. Contact us for more details and to find out about being a vendor at
2. Plant Sale:Just in time for Mother’s Day, pick up a beautiful hanging basket from Richmond Nurseries, plus EcoClub seedlings and cuttings grown by Elmdale students.
3. Electronics Recycling: Bring in your old unwanted electronic equipment (TVs, laptops, printers, phones, stereos, etc.) for recycling. Check the website for items accepted: