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Discovering Ottawa: A Visit With Passion Passport

Recently we sent a talented group of Canadian photographers and storytellers — along with our friends at Passion Passport — on a day trip to Ottawa. The team toured around our nation’s capital, learning about one of Canada’s most cultural cities and snapping some unforgettable images along the way.

Although we didn’t get to go (this time), we do get to bask in their beautiful photos, listen to their story and rediscover one of our country’s greatest cities. Here then is Erik Mohn, Passion Passport team member one of the lucky people on the trip, telling us about his day:

Exploring Ottawa’s Museums

I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was about the building that intrigued me — was it the 30-foot tall sculpted spider guarding its entrance or the angular architecture? Perhaps it was the paintings, sculptures, and photographs that I knew were housed within. In any case, a trip to Ottawa’s National Gallery was first on my itinerary, and it didn’t disappoint.

I could’ve strolled the hallways of this Canadian institution for hours, ogling its extensive collection of art in every genre from Renaissance to contemporary. The visit made me appreciate the creative toil of Canadian artists, and also inspired my own creativity. If you visit the National Gallery over the next few months, keep an eye out for the upcoming Impressionist Treasures exhibit to be unveiled this summer.

The iconic spider sculpture outside the National Gallery
The iconic spider sculpture outside the National Gallery

After living for so long in a city, I felt that I’d neglected my connection to the natural world. I hadn’t watched new plants budding or touched the soil in which they grow for ages. But Ottawa is considered one of the “greenest” cities in Canada, home to its very own working farm at the heart of its metropolis – a perfect place to reconnect to the land. I ventured over to the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum to get my fill.

As I perused the exhibits of tools — some ancient and some relatively new — that once tilled the soil around Ottawa and provided food for its thriving communities, I glimpsed into the past and was reminded of the value of connecting with the natural world.

Inspired by the long legacy of farming and agriculture in this northern nation, I decided to visit the site of nearly 15 million specimens of flora and fauna. At the Canadian Museum of Nature, there are entire galleries, like tiny galaxies, devoted to fossils, mammals, water, earth, and birds. I enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to immerse myself in these unique and dizzying worlds, until my explorations were pleasantly interrupted by the laughter of delighted children embarking on a journey of their own through the exhibitions.

Parliament Hill & ByWard Market 

The view of Parliament Hill
The view of Parliament Hill

After exploring some of the city’s most beautiful museums, it was time to head outside. The sky was a clear blue, the clouds parted, and the sun shone brightly as a promise that spring was on its way. It was the perfect opportunity to explore all that Parliament Hill had to offer.

As an architecture enthusiast, it was a treat to walk through the complex, built in the Gothic revival style. The towering arches and stone buildings made me wonder what the city was like during the Parliament’s initial construction in the 1800s. What were the people like? The customs? The routines of daily life? The gargoyles, perched on their stone pedestals, were keeping their secrets.

A maple product stand at the ByWard Market
A maple product stand at the ByWard Market

While a day of exploring in solitude is always beneficial, getting to mingle with members of the local community is always the highlight of any trip. In Ottawa, the fun is to be found at ByWard market, home to over 600 unique shops and vendors.

As I strolled, I enjoyed a cider and a host of Ottawan delicacies, relishing the perfect end to a busy day and watching as the red sun set lower and lower in the sky, until it disappeared altogether.

Top image: The National Gallery

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