Family Travel: Dynamic Earth, Sudbury, Ontario

I grew up in Sudbury, Ontario, and although I didn't appreciate it as much at the time, it is a beautiful city with lots of things to do for families. A five-hour drive from Ottawa's west end, Sudbury offers families a plethora of beaches including Moonlight Beach, Bell Park, and Windy Lake and makes for a great long weekend destination.

FAMILY TRAVEL Sudbury Ontario.png

I now visit Sudbury twice a year, every spring and fall, to spend time with my grandfather. My most recent trip up was with my mom and my ten-year-old daughter. We all thought spring is the perfect time of year to check out one of Sudbury’s most popular tourist destinations, Dynamic Earth.

Of course, there is also Science North, which is known for its Bed of Nails, resident beaver and porcupine, flying squirrels, as well as many other interactive nature and science-related exhibitions. I hope to explore Science North again more when I return in the fall!

In the meantime, if you have never heard of the Bed of Nails before, check out this fun promotional video from Science North:

Dynamic Earth

This trip, we decided to visit Dynamic Earth. I hadn't been "down in the mines" since I was a kid and I was excited to share the Underground Tour experience with my daughter. When you arrive at Dynamic Earth, you are assigned a start time, which is typically every hour on the half hour. We got there 45 minutes before our underground tour started, so we took advantage of the additional exhibitions that are included with admission.

It was a beautiful day so we, of course, took the opportunity to snap pictures of the infamous Big Nickel that stands on the top of the hill at Dynamic Earth. The Big Nickel is a replica of the 1951 Canadian nickel and has been a selfie hotspot since before selfies were a thing! According to the Dynamic Earth website it, “symbolizes the wealth that Sudbury has contributed to the Canadian economy through nickel production.” I love that access to the nickel is barrier-free, which means anyone can walk or use a wheelchair to get up close with the Big Nickel. You may have heard that there were once other large coin monuments that shared space with the Big Nickel… you can learn what happened to them by visiting the Big Nickel, but I still believe the rumour that they rolled away. ;)

The always accessible Big Nickel

The always accessible Big Nickel

After visiting the Big Nickel, my daughter explored the Outdoor Science Park. This park is unlike any other! It features science and mining themed play structures, vehicles and slides safe and fun for kids of all ages. My daughter lived sliding down the “molten slag” slide towards a real slag pot and climbing the net climbing structure.

When we finally ventured back inside, we spent time learning about colour minerals on the mineral wall and playing in the mine training centre downstairs that featured virtual operating equipment such as a rock breaker, excavator and mining drone.  

Dynamic Earth Sudbury Activities.jpg

Of course, the real attraction was the underground tour. The tour starts by taking a big glass-windowed elevator down seven storeys. The guided group tour takes you through their demonstration mines through the ages. During the approximately hour-long underground tour, you learn the evolution of mining in the Sudbury region from the turn of the century to modern mining and also includes a mock-dynamite explosion. It's unlike any other tour I have been on, and I found it very interesting to learn about what went on under the ground all those years of living there. Also, you can purchase a postcard at the gift shop before heading down and mail it in their underground mailbox – a fun way to let others know how much fun you’re having! It’s a very realistic experience and makes you appreciate the dark and damp conditions miners continue to work in every day!

Dynamic Earth Underground Tour.jpg

If you’re planning a family trip to Sudbury, Ontario make sure to include Dynamic Earth! Here are some tips to make the most out of your time there: 

  • Pick up your underground tour pass for the next available tour time as soon as you arrive (you may be tempted to visit the Big Nickel first, but depending on when you arrive there will be plenty of time to do that!).

  • The temperature underground is approximately 13C (55F), so make sure you are dressed for cool and damp conditions by bringing a jacket and wearing running shoes.

  • I recommend the underground tour for children aged three and up, but there are strollers available underground!

  • It is dark when you first get in the elevator and when you first arrive underground. Make sure little ones are prepared by letting them know it will be dark, but also that there will be lights and that they are safe.

  • There are flashing lights.

  • There is a café on site if you want a quick bite to eat as well as numerous bathrooms.

  • Dynamic Earth is typically closed from October to March each year.

  • The Big Nickel is free to visit any time of the year!

For more information on Dynamic Earth, visit: https://sciencenorth.ca/dynamic-earth/.


Disclaimer: I received passes to Dynamic Earth for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are my own.

Skateboarding & Scooter Camps with Evolve Camps In Ottawa

Sports camps come in many varieties from the general all-sports camp offered for all ages to intense training for a specific sport. We get it - choosing the right summer camp for your child is not easy. Evolve Camps operates action sports programs for children across Canada including here in the Capital.

Evolve Camps In Ottawa


Some Great Questions Ask Your Child

Many times parents like yourself think to themselves “I found the best program, I can’t wait to register my child for this they are going to love it!”, but they do not consult their child before signing them up. In most cases, the parent just ends up with an unhappy camper because the child was put into a program they were not excited about.

Before choosing a program - whether it is with Evolve Camps or not - make sure you ask some of these questions to your child:

  • What do you want to do this summer?

  • Do you want to skateboard or scooter every day?

  • Do you want to learn how to ski or snowboard this winter?

  • Would you have fun at a sleep-away overnight camp?

  • Do you want to just hang out at home?

  • What are some of your friends doing this summer/winter?

  • Do any of your friends want to try skateboard/scooter/ski/snowboard with you?

  • I found this program called [Evolve Camps]. Here is what they do; how does it sound?

  • Out of the camp options that [Evolve Camps] offers, which would you prefer?

Skateboarding & Scooter Camps with Evolve Camps  In Ottawa

About Our Skateboarding & Scooter Summer Camp Sessions In Ottawa

Drop off Summer Camps vs. Bussed Summer Camps

Summer camps also offer a variety of services to help you have easier mornings and even easier afternoons. Generally speaking drop off summer camps are cheaper. These type of summer camp options are great for parents or guardians who work from home or have a flexible schedule a camp.

Evolve Camps like many other programs offers a pick-up and drop off service in various areas throughout Ottawa. The beauty of Evolve’s program is that the kids visit different skateboard parks throughout Ottawa. Campers get picked up in the morning between 7:45AM and 8:30AM and drop off back at the same spot between 3:45PM and 4:30PM.

Some of the pick up locations include:

Earl of March Secondary School, Merivale High School, Hopewell Public School, Lester B. Pearson Catholic High School and Broadview Avenue Public School. Full Details HERE.

Read Online Reviews

We could spend all day telling you about all the amazing things that your child will experience as a camper with Evolve Camps in Ottawa. Rather than hearing it from us, you can read for yourself from our many reviews on Facebook and Google that were written by parents of other children that had a great experience with Evolve Camps. We encourage you to hear first-hand from these parents about the positive growth and benefits that they have seen in their child since attending one of our programs. We also recommend to do the same for any other camp you are considering.

Kids In The Capital Discount

If Evolve Camps skateboarding and scooter camp in Ottawa sounds like a good fit for your child use the following code to SAVE $25 of any session. At check out use KIDSINTHECAPITAL.

Register here: https://www.evolvecamps.com/scooter/ottawa-scooter-camp/?dp=OTTAWA

Follow Evolve Camps online:
Evolve Camps: http://www.evolvecamps.com
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/evolvecamps @evolvecamps
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/evolvecamp


Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Evolve Camps.

Father’s Day in Ottawa 2019

On Sunday, June 16th celebrate fatherhood, paternal bonds, and all the father figures in your life with quality dad time. To help you plan ahead here is a list of things to do and see in Ottawa on Father's Day.

What to do in Ottawa for Father’s Day.png

Billings Estate National Historic Site - Vintage Car Show

Cast your vote for the fan favourite antique car at the Vintage Car Show! The Billings’ 1959  Cadillac Sedan de Ville will also be available to view. In addition to  the vintage cars, visitors can enjoy a tour of the museum, and check out the icehouse. Families with younger children can also participate in an interactive scavenger hunt. Cash BBQ will be available. Live music by the Grumpy Old Men band (11 am to 2  pm). Cost is $17.50 per family (2 adults + children) or $6.75 per person.

Cumberland Heritage Museum: Father’s Day Heritage Workshops

Father’s Day heritage Workshop themes include woodworking, letterpress printing, gardening, and acrylic painting. Bring the whole family to the museum and enjoy fun and games on the grounds while Dad learns the ins and outs of his new trade. Workshop fee includes required supplies as well as a beverage (non-alcoholic) and light snack for the participant. Regular admission fees apply for visitors who are not participating in a workshop (museum will be open during normal operating hours for regular visitors: 10 am to 5 pm).

Pinhey’s Point: Father's Day Challenge - Interactive experience with Live History

Travel back in time to the era of the March Township Gentry and interact with costumed actors to complete a series of challenges before time runs out and you alter the course of history. Will your group be able to complete the challenge in time and save the day? The event takes approximately 60 minutes to complete and will run at regular intervals throughout the day. Final admission is at 3 pm. Cost is $6.75 a person.

Father’s Day Builder’s Event at the Nepean Museum

Work together as a family to complete three different building challenges! First build a modern structure, then give constructing an early settler log home a try, and finally explore the themes in our latest exhibition, Water: A Journey to the Source, by engineering a pipe line. Explore tools, building materials, and more! Snacks will be available for cash purchase. From 10 am to 4 pm. Cost: $17.50 per family (2 adults + children) or $6.75 per person. No registration is required.

Nokia Sunday Bike Days 

Take your dad cycling from 9 am to 1 pm along Ottawa’s parkways and experience the beauty of Canada’s Capital Region in a fun and environmentally friendly way.

Ottawa Fringe Festival

On from June 13th to the 23rd is Ottawa's Fringe Festival - a unique festival that brings artists and the audiences together. Find out if this is something your dad might enjoy here: http://ottawafringe.com

2018 FCA Ottawa Ferrari Festival

This annual festival takes place over Father's Day weekend and is a must for any Ferrari fan! Take a look at 1.3 km concourse of rare automobiles, fine dining, and fun for the entire family!

Italian Week Festival

Father's Day lands on one of the last days of Ottawa's Italian Week. Head down to Preston Street and Little Italy for celebrations, great food and more!

Canada Day 2019 in Ottawa

Canada Day 2019 in Ottawa.png
photo courtesy of connie paris

photo courtesy of connie paris

It's #Canada152 this year and we have everything you need to know to plan a memorable Canada Day with your family. 

Parliament Hill

Programming on Parliament Hill starts at 8 a.m. and includes an Algonquin blessing of the grounds, a Carillion Concert. The noon and evening Shows featuring various artists such as the NAC Orchestra, K’Naan, T. Thomason, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, Karim Ouellet, Shawnee, William Prince, Coeur de Pirate, Marie Mai and Brett Kissel.

New this year: the main entrance to access Parliament Hill for Canada Day programming will be located in front of the Supreme Court of Canada at the intersection of Wellington and Kent streets. The entrance for people with special needs will be at the Parliament Hill pedestrian entrance at the intersection of Bank and Wellington streets.

For additional details on access points, the security process and any restrictions to consider, please visit the official Canada Day website.

Major’s Hill Park

Major’s Hill Park is the hubbub of family-friendly Canada Day activities in Ottawa’s downtown core. Visit the park for face painting, live musical and cultural performances, pop up shops, exhibitions, and so much more. This year the Tim Horton's stage will feature performances by CHANCES, Iskwé, Medhi Cayenne, Salebarbes and Said the Whale. At the end of the day, this is a great spot to watch the spectacular display of Canada Day fireworks over the Ottawa River.

Photo courtesy of Jenn Beyak

Photo courtesy of Jenn Beyak

photo courtesy of cynthia mar

photo courtesy of cynthia mar

Bank of Canada Museum

Drop into the Bank of Canada Museum (located at 30 Bank Street (corner of Wellington Street)) for family activities, trivia, crafts, photobooth and giveaways. There’s plenty to keep the kids busy and you can learn a thing or two taking our trivia challenge. Dry, cool and FREE! Open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. See our tent on the Plaza. Click here for more information. 

The National Arts Centre

The National Arts Centre (NAC) opens its doors on Canada Day offering various FREE activities for the whole family, rain or shine! Activities include outdoor Yoga on the NAC Wood Terrace, Storytelling & Yoga for the little ones with Luana and Surya, a Ukrainian Dance Workshop with the Ottawa School of Ukrainian Dance, a House Dance Workshop with Capital Sessions featuring Rise Ashen, and a
Powwow work-out with Amanda Fox ! For more information, click here.

Jazz Festival – Confederation Park

Photo courtesy of jenn beyak

Photo courtesy of jenn beyak

Located right across from City Hall, Confederation Park on Canada Day is home to food trucks, activities and is your ticket to some of the world's most recognized jazz artists, presented by the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival. If your family enjoys good music, Confederation Park is a must-stop on Canada Day and the entire weekend!

Mackenzie-King Estate

Mackenzie-King Estate is in the heart of Gatineau Park and makes for great photos any time of year. If your family loves the outdoors, take a walk through the wooded paths or gardens, visit historical ruins from the early 1900s or enjoy a cup of tea at the Mackenzie King Café and Tearoom. 

Photo courtesy of Olivia Lamarre.

Photo courtesy of Olivia Lamarre.

Ottawa Champions Baseball Game

Take your kids to a ball game! The Ottawa Champions have a game at 1:30 p.m. on Canada Day against the Shikoku Islanders (from Japan). Enjoy ball game food, cheer on the local team and sing with the mascot! Seats prices are economical and it’s fun for the entire family, regardless of age (or whether or not they like baseball).

Scotiabank Canada Day Road Races

If you and your family love to run join Run Ottawa for the Scotiabank Canada Day Road Races at Walter Baker Park as part of the official Kanata Canada Day celebrations. There will be fun and friendly running events, including 5K, 10K, 1.5K Fun Run for kids aged 5 to 11 and a 100 Meter Tow Trot for kids ages 4 and under. A fun and healthy way to start Canada Day!

Visit a Museum!

Most museums in Ottawa have free admission to their general exhibitions all day July 1st and many have special events taking place just for Canada Day! This includes the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian War Museum, the Canada Space and Aviation museum, as well as the following museums:

Photo courtesy of Lida Wellman.

Photo courtesy of Lida Wellman.

Canada Aviation and Science Museum

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum has a jam-packed schedule of thrilling performances, including skydiving demos, rocket launches, and a fly by from NAV Canada’s CRJ. Just minutes from the crowds of downtown Ottawa, the museum is an ideal destination for those seeking a family-friendly day filled with entertaining, educational and interactive activities to do    regardless of the weather. Stroll through our world-class aviation collection, speak with pilots, and visit more than 20 partner organizations from the aerospace industry! Admission is free (donations are welcome).

Bytown Museum

Located on the Lower Locks of the Rideau Canal, the Bytown Museum is a great little museum that also has ice cream, freshly squeezed lemonade, souvenirs, and more available in their café and boutique. Admission is free on Canada Day.

Canada Science and Technology Museum

Rain or shine, kids and adults alike will have fun exploring the newly renovated Canada Science and Technology Museum. Free admission to visit the museum (parking fees and ticket fees to Leonardo Da Vinci-500 years of Genius exhibition still apply)

Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

In addition to the animal barns and incredible play structure, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is highlighting Canada’s birthday with lots of exciting activities for the whole family. Our special demonstrations will offer visitors the chance to learn about Canadian agriculture and learn about different Canadian breeds of livestock. There will be games, a craft, ice cream making and tasting, as well a chance to sample a Canadian classic: butter tarts!

Canadian Museum of Nature

If you haven’t been to the Canadian Museum of Nature in awhile, Canada Day is the perfect chance to do so for free. Visit dinosaurs, mammals, minerals and sea life, the Canada Good Arctic Gallery and their new special exhibition Pterosaur: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs.

Photo courtesy of Lida Wellman.

Photo courtesy of Lida Wellman.

photo courtesy of cynthia mar

photo courtesy of cynthia mar

Osgoode

Celebrate Canada Day in Osgoode Village at the Osgoode Community Centre starting at 2 pm on July 1st. Events include a parade, entertainment, kids activities, and fireworks! For information: http://www.osgoodevillage.com/?page_id=743

Riverside South

Join the community of Riverside South at Claudette Cain Park as they celebrate Canada Day with family-friendly activities for all ages and of course, a fireworks show to finish off the day! Stay tuned to the website for information: http://riversidesouth.org/calendar/canada-day/

Celebrate Canada Day in Your Community!

If you are looking to avoid the huge crowds of Canadians in downtown Ottawa, but still want to celebrate Canada Day with others, there are plenty of community events across Ottawa, including:

Barrhaven

Sponsored by Mattamy Homes, join your Barrhaven neighbours at Clarke Fields, 93 Houlahan for a midway, food trucks, live music, amazing fireworks and much, much more! For more information: http://www.canadadaybarrhaven.ca/

Carp

Celebrate Canada Day at the Diefenbunker from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.!  They’ll have family-friendly activities, a Canada themed scavenger hunt through the entire four story underground Bunker, an obstacle course, and more! Entry times must be booked ahead of time. Entry cannot be guaranteed without a pre-booked ticket. For more information: https://diefenbunker.ca/events/event/canadaday/

Kanata

Canada Day in Kanata take place at Walter Baker Park in Kanata and includes live entertainment, a large family fun zone, live bands and more. Crowds of over 30,000 are known to attend this popular west Ottawa Canada Day celebration! Fireworks start around 10 p.m. For more information visit: http://www.canadadayinkanata.com/

Orleans

Orleans residents fully expected Canada Day at Petrie Island to be cancelled this year due to flooding, but it appears from the website that the event will be running! Shuttle services are offered on and off the island, and the day is full of musical entertainment (School of Rock Orleans will be there) and fireworks in the evening. For more information visit: http://www.ocanadaorleans.ca/index.html

Stittsville

Hosted on the grounds of Sttitsville’s Sacred Heart Highschool, Stittville’s family-friendly Canada Day celebration starts at 1 pm and gets bigger and better every year with activities and fun for the whole family including fireworks at 9:45 pm sharp! For more information: http://www.stittsvilleva.com/canadaday/

How to get around on Canada Day

PHOTO COURTESY OF ALISON JETTE

PHOTO COURTESY OF ALISON JETTE

Regardless of where or how you decide to celebrate Canada Day in Ottawa, OC Transpo offers free transit all day long and after the fireworks. STO offers free transit after 10 p.m. Check out their website for more information and remember to leave lots of time for travel and to have fun – Canada Day with kids make for some great memories.

How does your family traditionally celebrate Canada Day? Leave a comment and let us know!

Family Travel: Chaffey’s Lock

KITC would like to welcome back guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival. During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  



It was the first truly nice day of June. It was also a PD day for our son, David and I had the day off. The perfect combination for a road trip.

We decided to go check out Chaffey’s Lock. Located about 1.5 hours south of Ottawa on the Rideau Canal system, Chaffeys Lock is perhaps most well-known for having a lock station.

Family Travel_ Chaffey's Lock.png

We arrived late morning and were lucky enough to see the lock station in action. A pleasure cruiser arrived and the Parks Canada staff manually cranked the locks to move the bridge. It felt like stepping back in time. The same process would have been used a hundred years ago.

David was interested to see the process but when I had told him that Chaffey’s Lock was prime snake habitat, that was his primary focus. David has loved snakes since he saw a Little Ray’s Reptile presentation when he was three. We have been all over Ontario looking for snakes.

I have learned when searching for snakes, it can be very hit or miss. We got an insider tip from the Parks Canada staff and headed to the end of the point at the locks. At first, we did not find anything, and then I saw something slithering towards me. It was a Northern Water Snake. David jumped into action and took multiple photos with our smart phone.

Chaffey's Lock Water Snake

David is always very respectful when viewing nature and let the snake go on his way. We lingered around the area for awhile longer. This time, David spotted something in the water and it was another Northern Water Snake. I was afraid that David might jump in the water to go swimming with it but thankfully, my wife Sandy, is always able to steer the ship with some common sense.

We had satiated our desire to see snakes so it was time to check out Chaffey’s Lock. While not an overwhelming metropolis. There were still many cool things to see and do. We first headed to Opinicon Resort. I had visited Opinicon about fifteen years ago. Frankly, at the time, it looked a bit tired. The resort was bought a few years ago and I was happy to see all the improvements.

The first order of the day was to visit the ice cream parlour. There were multiple flavours and a single scoop was the size of most double scoops at other ice cream shops. We took our ice cream outside and David discovered the playground. The coolest feature was a zip line built for kids. The playground had a nature theme which fit in with the beauty of the location.

Caffey's Lock zip line

Opinicon has a pub and restaurant for fine dining. There are also cottage style accommodations for an overnight visit. I could imagine us making a return trip to the Opinicon.

It was now time for the main reason we had visited Chaffey’s Lock. I had read very good reviews online about Rideau Tours. They offer up kayak, canoe, paddleboard and bike rentals along with boat cruises. We opted for the more relaxed activity and chose the three lake loop boat tour.

We met our friendly, tour guide and boat operator, Captain Luc and were underway. The pontoon boat was very comfortable and had a cover shielding us from the hot mid-afternoon sun. The conversation with Captain Luc was as if you were seeing an old friend again and not a total stranger. It was obvious he was very well acquainted with the area and knew the history well.

Caffey's Lock Boat Tour

Our first big sighting was seeing a group of turtles basking on some rocks enjoying the sun. As our boat approached, the turtles slowly made their way into the water. David identified the turtles as painted and snapper turtles. Captain Luc kept a respectful distance as we watched the turtles swim by.

Captain Luc then showed us Richardson island where Agnes Etherington set up a hospital called Fettercairn for her brother and other veterans suffering from shell shock who had served in World War I. She found they responded well to the tranquility of nature.

Our next destination was the Newboro Lock. We gently cruised along Indian, Clear and Newboro Lake. I could feel the stress of the work week slipping away as we enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

Chaffey's Lock scenery

We arrived at Newboro Lock and took a break to stretch our legs. I started to think I could get used to this boat cruising lifestyle. It was interesting to read the historical panels at Newboro Lock. We did not find any more snakes but enjoyed the visit.

On the way back, we saw more stunning lakeside scenery. Captain Luc showed us his favourite swimming hole. The water was still too cold to swim since it was only early June but we made a vow to return. We also covered every topic under the sun from the Montreal Canadians to classic rock.

Soon enough, we were once again back at Chaffey’s Lock. We had an unexpected surprise. Captain Luc’s partner, Anne Marie, had prepared a gourmet picnic for us. It consisted of locally produced artisan sausage, cheese, organic heirloom vegetables and homemade lemonade. Relaxing over good food and conversation was the perfect way to wrap up our visit to Chaffey’s Lock and with Rideau Tours.

Chaffey's Lock Tour Picnic

Rideau Tours offers many different tours and packages including overnight stays. The picnic meal is also available on many of the activities. For full information about all the various options visit, www.rideautours.ca

During the summer months there are plenty of other things to see and do around Chaffey’s Lock including the Chaffey’s Mill Art Gallery which features works of local artisans and the Chaffey’s Lockmaster’s Museum. Check out www.chaffeyslock.ca for all the info. For the outdoor enthusiasts the Cataraqui Trail (an old rail line now part of the TransCanada Trail) offers 100 km of hiking that also links to the Rideau Trail. If fishing is of interest head over to Brown’s Marina for all your supplies. They are located right in Chaffey’s Lock and if you chat with the locals they may just share some “Fish Tales” that are best told sitting on the “Liar’s Bench” at the Opinicon Resort.

Disclaimer: For the purpose of this review, Stephen was compensated for the boat tour and meal but all views are his own.