Family Friendly Hockey with the Ottawa 67's!

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.  


The playoffs are always my favourite time to watch hockey. The Ottawa 67’s have had a record breaking year and it looks like they could go deep into the playoffs.  Sandy, David and I decided to check out a game between the Ottawa 67’s and Hamilton Bulldogs.  

Family Friendly Hockey with the Ottawa 67s!

One aspect I like about attending a 67’s game are all the activities taking place inside and outside the arena. We arrived early and had time to check out the Ottawa Farmers Market. We also wandered around the restaurants and shops enjoying the colour and passion of the Ottawa 67’s fans.   

Once inside the arena,  we still had a few minutes before game time started.  The 67’s have done a great job at creating a family-friendly atmosphere.  There was a bouncy castle, face-painting and Jenga blocks to keep the young ones entertained.  At ten years old, David felt he was too old to partake in those activities but was excited to watch the hockey game.

The first period started and the 67’s quickly jumped out to an early lead with a short-handed goal.  The Bulldogs responded by playing aggressively but the 67’s answered with another goal. By the end of the first period, it was 2-0 for the good guys.

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In keeping with the family-friendly entertainment theme,  the first period intermission featured a contest between uncle and nephew to see who could get the most pucks in the net.  I am not sure if the uncle was just being nice but the nephew won by a wide margin.

The second period started with physical play on both sides. Hamilton started with a power play goal but the 67’s came storming back with two quick goals before the second period ended.

The second period intermission featured a game of musical chairs on the ice.  The highlight was seeing a young participant out-jumping the 67’s mascot to grab one of the remaining chairs.  I think that kid might have a future in sports!

For the third period,  the 67’s held on to their lead earning a 5-2 win.  The atmosphere for the entire game was great with most of the crowd only looking at their phones to take photos of the 67’s goals.

If all goes according to plan, there will be many playoff games in the 67’s immediate future.  For all the details and schedule, www.ottawa67s.com

Disclaimer: Stephen and his family received free tickets for this Ottawa 67s game but all views and excitement are his own.

Maple Syrup Season in Ottawa - Temple's Sugar Bush

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.  


When I first moved to Ottawa from Saskatchewan nineteen years ago,  one of the things I loved about Ottawa was visiting a sugar bush every March and April to load up on pancakes and maple syrup.   Saskatchewan grows and produces many great things but maple syrup is not one of them.

Visiting a sugar bush has now become a tradition for our family.   This year, we decided to check out Temple’s Sugar Bush, located on Lanark County Road 15 - Ferguson Falls Road.

The first thing that had made me want to visit the sugar bush was the post and beam timber frame construction of the main building.  Built in 2007, the construction style does not use steel and girders with the giant pine beams held in place by hand whittled wood dowels.  Entering the main building, I was not disappointed. It felt like I had stepped into the Chateau Montebello or an elegant wood frame construction from a hundred years ago.   

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Our son,  David, also liked the architecture but was more interested in the buffet.   We were seated at communal tables that allowed for easy conversation. The buffet was expansive and delicious.   There were the items you would expect like pancakes, sausages, beans and eggs. Other less obvious items included salad, breakfast biscuits  and yogurt giving variety to the traditional buffet Of course, the most important feature was the maple syrup which is made on-site.

The best part of the buffet was the taste! Nothing was from a can and tasted homemade. You didn’t see shrivelled up sausages that had been under a heat lamp for hours.  The chef brought out fresh items regularly keeping everyone happy.

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I also appreciated the friendly and prompt service.   Even though there was a large crowd, there were enough staff on hand to make sure everyone’s coffee cups were full.  

One other aspect I enjoyed was that there was not loud music being played or over the loudspeakers allowing for conversation without having to yell.  My dad was visiting us from Saskatchewan so having an animated conversation together with David and my wife, Sandy is a memory I will treasure.

After our hearty meal,  we had a chance to meet Charles Temple who shared with us his story.  “I had dropped out of the University of Toronto and wasn’t sure what to do with my life,” offered Temple.  “I remembered fond childhood memories of making maple syrup at my mother’s family farm. I decided I wanted to set up my own sugar camp.  I started off modestly and eventually had my own farm with a sugar bush. Things evolved and we eventually purchased our current property with a vow to open a restaurant.  That has brought us to today with our restaurant.”

Mr. Temple or as he preferred to be called, Charlie, was also kind enough to show us where the sap from the maple trees was boiled and the process to turn it into maple syrup.   

We wrapped our time at Temple’s by walking the nature trail to try and burn off some of the calories we had gained at the buffet.  We walked long enough to probably justify two pancakes and one sausage. Oh well, that will mean just one more bike ride in the spring.

If you go - Temple’s Sugar Bush restaurant is typically open from March 1 -  end of April. The rest of the year, the facility serves as a popular wedding venue. The buffet is served weekends and holidays with the menu being offered Wednesday - Friday.  Expect larger crowds on the weekend but when we went, there wasn’t a lineup and people were served promptly. There is also a small store on-site selling maple products.

If you want to extend your trip, there is a cheese store and Amish furniture store in nearby Balderson.  The historic town of Perth is about a twenty minute drive from Temple’s.


Disclaimer: Stephen and his family were comped for their meal at Temple’s Sugar Bush, but all opinions are his own.

A Weekend in Montreal for Nuphilex and Nuit Blanche

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.  

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Our son, David,  has always had eclectic interests.  He went through the dinosaur and reptile phase and has also included researching our family history and meeting seniors over a hundred as his passions.   As parents, Sandy and I have always tried to be supportive and nurture his hobbies. His latest interest, coin-collecting, took us on a road trip to Montreal to check out one of the largest coin shows in Canada, Nuphilex.

We arrived at Nuphilex early afternoon on Saturday.   David was concerned that perhaps all of the good coins had already been purchased.  Upon entering the hall, he found that was not the case. There were over forty dealers with an incredible selection of Canadian and world coins.   

Nuphilex

Having relatively little knowledge about coin-collecting, I am always concerned we may not be getting a fair price. Luckily, David has grown with his hobby researching what coins he needs to add to his collection and what is a reasonable price.   We found the dealers at Nuphilex were all very helpful and explained some of the finer points of coin-collecting. We were also offered a decent price on all the coins.

After a few hours of numismatic (fancy word for coin-collecting)  hunting, David, Sandy and I were ready to relax. Our past few trips to Montreal,  we have chosen to stay at the Residence Inn Downtown.  We love the hotel because it is only a two minute walk to the Peel Metro station and the rooms are always impeccably clean and spacious with in-suite kitchens.  

We took an hour catnap and were ready to go exploring again.  I had reserved tickets for the 7:00 pm performance of Aura at the Notre Dame Basilica.  It is hard to put Aura into words.  The first part of the experience allows you to explore the Basilica discovering a series of multimedia installations that highlight the artwork of the church.  

Notre Dame Basilica - Aura performance

The second part can best be described as rock concert meets religious experience.   The music tends to be classical with the light show being equal to any Pink Floyd concert or techno rave.   The overall effect is mind-blowing. The Basilica lit up with lasers and lights coming from all different directions.  I have been fortunate to travel to a number of different places and have seen many shows but have never seen anything like Aura.  My favourite was seeing the massive pipes of the organ illuminated by lasers.

After seeing Aura,  I would be very interested to take a tour of the Basilica to find out more of the history of the building.

Once we were done at the show, our party was just beginning.   The day we were in Montreal, Nuit Blanche (white night) was taking place as part of the Montreal en Lumiere festival.  Nuit Blanche features activities with an artistic bent.  It also takes place until the wee hours of the morning.

Montreal en Lumiere festival - Nuit Blanche

We stumbled upon the epicentre of Nuit Blanche in the Quartier des Spectacles near the Place-des-Arts metro.   The area was a cacophony of sound and lights.  There were activities for every age including a DJ stage,  illuminated toboggan run and ferris wheel. Our favourite were the outdoor fire pits where you could roast marshmallows and sausages.  It gave the feel of camping in the middle of the city surrounded by thousands of other revellers. The crowd was equally people under thirty and families.  Everyone mixed together just having a great time.

Illuminated toboggan un Montreal Nuit Blanche

David would have stayed up till the break of dawn.  Unfortunately for him, Sandy and my party days are well behind us so we turned in before 11 pm.  

The next day, we started off with a delicious buffet breakfast in the hotel.  I loaded up on the sausages and eggs while David and Sandy loved the waffles.

Once we had checked out the hotel, David wanted to make one more visit to Nuphilex.  As it was the last day, the crowds were smaller giving the vendors more time to talk with David.  Of course, we did not leave empty-handed. David added ten coins to add to his growing collection.   I am sure Nuphilex will become an annual tradition for our family.

If you go -  The best place to keep up-to-date about all activities in Montreal is www.mtl.org.  I would also recommend Nuphilex for non-coin collectors.  It is fascinating to see the currency from around the world and provides a good lesson about world history and geography.  


Disclaimer: Stephen and his family were comped for the hotel and Aura show as part of this review, but views are his own.



We're Off To See The Wizard: with a Live Orchestra

I often catch myself humming, “We’re off to see the Wizard…” and now I can hum it along with hundreds of others at the NAC this March! Celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Academy Award-winning classic, the Wizard of Oz, by setting out on an adventure with Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man as they dance down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz. This NAC Orchestra Pops presentation lets you experience this brilliant technicolour movie classic on the big screen live with the NAC Orchestra, conducted by Jack Everly. 

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The brilliant music of Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg combined with Judy Garland’s iconic Dorothy will have everyone in your family singing along to favourites like We’re off to see the Wizard and Over the Rainbow. Marvel at the whimsically colourful world: from the ghoulishly green Wicked Witch of the West to the glittering Glinda the Good Witch and resplendent ruby red slippers. 

Whether you’re introducing your kids to this beloved classic or reliving your own childhood memories, this production of the Wizard of Oz is not to be missed!

The Wizard of Oz with Live Orchestra is only playing March 28 to 30th, 2019 at the National Arts Centre. Tickets start at $29 - making it affordable fun for the whole family!

For more information or to purchase tickets visit the NAC website.

High Tea at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier

When I think of high tea, I think of the small triangular sandwiches, scones and squares my grandmother would serve my mother and I when I was a child and we would go over to her house for afternoon tea.

My grandmother passed away many years ago and with her went the tradition of afternoon tea in fancy tea cups served with bite-sized delicacies. I longed to recreate those memories with my own daughter, and although I had heard of high tea at the Chateau Laurier, I found myself waiting for the perfect excuse to indulge in the experience.

Every afternoon, High Tea (also known as Afternoon Tea) is served at Zoe’s Lounge, located in the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Zoe’s recently underwent a beautiful renovation maintaining its unique architectural element, including the gorgeous chandeliers, antique crown moldings and impressive marble bar. The lounge is bright, cheerful and the staff are very welcoming.

My daughter was not only impressed by the lounge’s big windows overlooking the street (prime seating if you’re lucky enough to get a seat there), but also by the tall ceilings.

High Tea at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier

My daughter didn’t know what to expect at High Tea, but was in awe of the three-tiered serving tray filled with scones, desserts and dainty sandwiches. Not a tea lover, she was very impressed with their hot chocolate as well.

Although the menu changes seasonally, the menu generally features unique gourmet pastries, open and closed-faced sandwiches and delicious English scones served with homemade Fairmont Chateau Laurier jam. And of course, there is also a wide variety of tea to choose from. You can view the current menu here.

What I loved about our day was the attention to detail our server gave us. He asked if we were celebrating anything special, which we were - my mom’s birthday. He wished her a happy birthday, which I thought that was very nice, but he then surprised her at the end of our tea by singing “Happy Birthday” and brought her a special birthday plate with extra treats. Needless to say, my mom loved it!

Celebrating a birthday at high tea Chateau Laurier

Zoe’s Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier makes afternoon tea everything I remember it to be and more. Classy, delicious and all about spending time sipping tea (or sparkling wine or champagne - or hot chocolate!) surrounded by those you love. I look forward to recreating the same afternoon again this year for my own birthday.

High Tea at the Chateau Laurier

Hours:  Monday to Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m

Cost:  $52 per person * 62 on holidays and 1:00 pm weekend seatings. Children’s (or little Prince & Princess) tea, $28.  Reserve at least 24 hours ahead (sooner during the summer and holidays).  613-241-1414.

Kid Friendly? Absolutely! Their menu even has a kid’s section, but they can easily just pick off your tray depending how hungry you are.

Location: 1 Rideau Street, inside the Château Laurier