Giver’s 150 Canada-themed playground at Mooney’s Bay

My daughter has watched playgrounds all over Ontario be built thanks to the Sinking Ship Entertainment show Giver, a program that regularly airs on TVO Kids. The show involves children ages 6 to 12 in the design and building of local neighbourhood playgrounds.

This spring TVO will start airing episodes about building one of the largest playgrounds in Canada located at Mooney’s Bay in Ottawa – and if you look at it from a bird’s eye view, it’s even shaped like Canada.

Can you guess what part of Canada this section of the playground is?

Can you guess what part of Canada this section of the playground is?

My eight year old daughter and her friends recently visited the new Canada-themed playground at Mooney’s Bay and had the time of their lives! When asked what they enjoyed the most about the playground they said it was searching for different facts on Canada (this after discovering a fact on the bottom of a saucer swing), as well as climbing the monkey bars that symbolized an igloo in Canada’s north.

Fact from the "Alberta" section of the playground

Fact from the "Alberta" section of the playground

Among many other things, Canada’s playground at Mooney's Bay features a lighthouse slide, orca shaped monkey bars, a ship that rocks back and forth as you move, a log cabin, a canoe-shaped teeter totter as well as a multitude of play structures, each symbolizing something that kids can identify with for each area of Canada. There are also swings for younger children and older children, as well as an accessible swing seat, and a raised sandbox.

Local parent Carmela wrote in to share that it was important to the builders of this park to make it accessible to all ages and all abilities: 

There are metal slides for deaf/hard of hearing children because plastic slides may cause the processor of a cochlear implant (CI) to malfunction, which then needs to be reset at CHEO with an Audiologist. If kids with CI’s take off their implants you have to have them remember to take it off and not leave it/forget it or risk it getting broken, etc. Also, means the child is in total silence and not able to hear their friends calling them, laughing or any sounds, etc. So, with metal slides there is no static, so no risk to the processor. This request came from a mom in Ottawa who has a young child with Usher’s Syndrome. 
Also, the boats are wheelchair accessible and the mulch is accessible for wheel chairs and strollers etc. Grateful for a playground for all abilities and ages! 

The Giver Canada-themed playground will not disappoint. Not only is it right next to Mooney’s Bay Beach with a big hill perfect for rolling down, but it is also a short walk away from Hog’s Back Falls. It is a great one-stop spot to spend a nice day outside with the family to swim, play and picnic!

Big hill near park - ideal for rolling down.

Big hill near park - ideal for rolling down.

There was some controversy surrounding the building of this park because nearby residents were not consulted prior to construction. But given how busy it was on the early spring day we visited, I think the finished project is being well received by residents. It's a beautiful park with lots to see and do for children of all ages.

Canada themed playground Ottawa

Although the landscaping immediately surrounding the playground is not complete, and the area is lacking benches, there are still plenty of raised areas where parents can sit or they can bring a picnic blanket and find some shade under one of the big trees nearby.

If our schedules had allowed, my daughter and her friends would have loved to help build the Canada-themed playground. But instead they now marvel in its size, its uniqueness and in the fact that is Canada-themed. She and her friends can hardly wait to return to Mooney’s Bay to give the Canada playground merry-go-round another spin and play hide and seek in the “wild, wild west.”

My daughter and her friend's favourite climbing structure at the park

My daughter and her friend's favourite climbing structure at the park

Keep your eyes out on TVO for 13 episodes about the building of Ottawa’s Canada-themed park and watch for the official opening on Canada Day, July 1, 2017!

Have you been to the Giver Canada-themed playground at Mooney’s Bay yet? What did you think? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

Ottawa Parks: Barnabe and Cardinal Farms

Every day on our way to daycare, I drive my daughter by two parks on Des Epinettes in Orleans: Cardinal Farms Park and Barnabe Park. She can see the play structures from the car, and asks the same question: "when can we go THERE, mama?"

I finally had some time the other morning to drive over that way (walking to the parks from our house would be too long for both of my girls!) 

Both parks are within walking distance from each other, which makes it an extra special outing for the little ones. We started at Cardinal Farms Park, which is super shaded, and includes a small soccer field and track. The park borders on our local ravine, so you could also explore the "woods" if you had time. Sadly I forgot to take pictures of this park, but there is a bigger structure for the older kids, and then a fenced structure and swings for the younger kids. 

Once they'd had enough of Cardinal Farms, it was a quick 5 minute walk down the street to Barnabe Park. Barnabe stretches long and wide between des Epinettes and Jeanne D'Arc. 

There were two awesome things about this park:

1) It's a short walk across Jeanne D'Arc until you reach Bridgehead at the corner of Jeanne D'Arc and Innes. This is a major bonus for tired parents.

2) There is an old-fashioned water pump at this park! I have never seen anything like it - the kids get to pump water up and down through some plastic tubs. Although this is not the same as cooling off in a splash pad, the kiddos spent lots of time splashing around in there (and "watering" the pavement)

So if you're looking for a different park to check out, try these two in combination one morning. And make sure not to miss your coffee ;)

Ottawa's Best Splash Pads

As I write this, the City of Ottawa is in another heat wave and public health has issued a heath warning, reminding people to keep cool, stay hydrated and avoid strenuous physical activity outdoors.

Staying cool while still keeping kids occupied can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, but luckily with all of the public pools, libraries and splash pads around town, keeping cool is possible. One of my daughter’s favourite ways to cool off is at a local splash pad with her friends and luckily Ottawa has many splash pads, with more being built every year!

If you’re headed to a splash pad this summer, here is a list of some of Ottawa’s best!

Brewer Park Splash Pad

Now that renovations are complete, Brewer Park splash pad has everything from tipping buckets to a water slide! Lots of shade can be found under nearby trees and there is the playground is close by too.

Citiplace Splash Pad, 285 Citiplace Drive

This splash pad includes a windmill and spraying loop and also has a covered sitting area for parents to supervise in the shade!

Centrepointe Splash Pad, 260 Centrepointe Drive.

This splash pad has a tipping bucket, a spraying loop, a bird that showers water and much more. There are some shady spots under trees and lots of room for kids to play in the grass while they dry off.

Fisher Park Splash Pad, 250 Holland Avenue

Although the park that houses this splash pad is older, the splash pad is newer and there are plenty of mature trees to give parents shade.

Lansdowne Water Plaza, 1015 Bank Street

Not a lot of bells and whistles here, but children and adults are welcome to hop in and out of the 55 gentle water jets to cool off, which is fun for all ages!

Millennium Park Splash Pad, Trim Road

Millennium Park Splash Pad

Millennium Park Splash Pad

This pirate themed splash pad has a gazebo to give parents some shade as they get wet under the tipping bucket or sprayed by a dragon.

Plant Splash Pad, 930 Somerset West

A spraying fire hydrant, a showering rainbow and several fountains make this splash pad a lot of fun for children of all ages!

Walden Park Splash Pad, 130 Walden Drive

Located in Kanata North, the Walden Park Splash Pad has ample parking as well as lots of areas for parents to sit along the rocks (and if you’re lucky enough you’ll get a little wet too!). There are spraying circles and tall showers to cool off kids of all ages.

Walter Baker Splash Pad, 100 Charlie Rogers Place

Walter Baker Park Splash Pad

Walter Baker Park Splash Pad

With a tall dome, a water cannon and fountains combined with mature trees for shade make this park a great place for parents too. This splash pad isn't overly big, but it is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

City of Ottawa splash pads are open from May until September (weather permitting). For more information on splash pad locations within the City of Ottawa, visit their website at: http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/parks-and-recreation/drop-activities/splash-pads

Do you have a great splash pad to add to the list? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

The New Millennium Park

I visited Milleninum Park (on Trim Road in Orleans) a couple of years ago, when the giant slide structure had gone up, and baby trees lined the playground. It was HOT. Although the kids loved the play structures, I found myself choosing different parks with more shade.

Fast forward to the present, and the City of Ottawa has made major upgrades to the park, including an awesome new splash pad. My husband and kids visited the other weekend for the grand opening.

The multi-million dollar expansion makes it the biggest build and expansion for a park, besides the development of Lansdowne Park. The roads got an upgrade, new parking and sports field, and of course - the new splash pad. 

The splash pad was designed by architectural engineers, and all the water drains into to a rocky riverbed and then into the sewer (the environmentalist in me is cringing slightly - water recovery systems cost about $100,000, but that's around what the City will be paying for all the water that gets used here!!)

Of course, the two main play structures are still a big hit, and the trees are growing slowly to create some shade. A brand new shelter helps, as well as the ability to run to the water for a cool down - perfect for these scorching summer days.

Wondering about bathrooms? There are public washrooms right across the road, and a port-a-potty right beside the park for those brave souls ;) 

Our girls love pretending to be pirates and princesses atop the pirate ship, and a replica of the Parliment buildings has a giant slide and plenty of room for both parents and kids to climb. The twirly big top is also a hit (although watch out...they will get dizzy!!)  

All in all, we will definitely be back to Millennium again!

Have you visited Millennium Park? What do you love about it?

50 things to do with kids in Ottawa

Ottawa has so many amazing things to see and do with kids! We wanted to put together the ultimate list, so that you can grab loads of ideas from one spot!

From museums, indoor activities, outdoor activities and parks - there's always something to do in Ottawa, no matter the season!

50 things to do with kids in ottawa

 

MUSEUMS

Having lived in other cities in Canada, I think the best thing about Ottawa is our amazing museums. There are many options that will please young and old!

Billings estate

Visit the historic estate of one of Ottawa's founding families and spend the day enjoying one of their special events (including awesome themed teas!) or kid-friendly programs.  

Bytown museum

The Bytown Museum offers plenty of interactive activities for our young and young at heart visitors!

Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum

Snuggly animals, food demonstrations, and special events - the agriculture museum has it all!

Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

Aviation is the third museum, along with Agriculture and Science and Tech (which is currently being rebuilt!), that makes up a great 3-in-1 membership for families. This museum is perfect for the little ones that love planes, space and so much more. There are daily kids activities, camps and a special play area for the kiddos!

Canada Science and Technology Museum

We’re so excited to finally be adding this one back into our “50 things” post! Completely renovated, this museum offers SO much for all ages. The best part for little ones (under 8) is the new Zoom exhibit!!

Canadian War museum 

When you think "kids," you may not think the war museum - but the little ones still get a kick out of looking at all the exhibits. And if you have older children, you may all get lost in there reading and exploring!

Children's museum

My kiddos LOVE this museum, and we make it a special treat. Their main attraction changes every few months or so, but the regular exhibits are a huge hit. And don't forget to try to check out a movie at the Imax theatre!

Cumberland Heritage Village Museum

My daughter's Sparks group recently spent the day at the Cumberland Museum, and we had SO much fun! What a fantastic way to teach our children about the past, with many activities and displays scheduled throughout the day. Also check out their special events, including the Village of Lights in the winter!

Diefenbunker

Check out Lara's trip to the Diefenbunker with her kids! This giant underground bunker was built during the cold war to house government officials in the event of nuclear war. It's sure to be a fun place for kids to explore.

Museum of Nature

The first time I visited the museum, I didn't allocate enough time. Floors of amazing exhibits, activities for kids young and old, and an Imax theatre. The special exhibits that arrive every six months or so are always a big hit!

National gallery

You wouldn't think an art gallery, with really beautiful, expensive art, would be a great place for kids, but if you follow some tips, it can still be a fun outing. Check out their Family Sundays, or take a walk around with your baby.

Vanier museopark

What's better than a park and sugar bush smack in the middle of an urban neighbourhood? A great place to walk your dog too!

 

ATTRACTIONS

Governor General estate

THE NAC has so many amazing children focused events

THE NAC has so many amazing children focused events

Whatever season, Rideau Hall is a beautiful place for a visit. Special events are often held there, and winter is great for a skate or celebration!

NAC children's events

The National Arts Centre has some fantastic children's programming, and you can read about French Youth Theatre here! 

High tea at the Chateau Laurier

Your kids will love you forever if you take them for high tea at the superb Chateau Laurier. Who doesn't love tiny sandwiches?

The Mint

Call ahead to book a tour at the Mint! Our experience has been that tours are great for children ages 5 and up, although most kids will get a kick out of the facility that produces Canada's investment and collector coins. 

Parliament Hill

The free sound and lights show on Parliament is SPECTACULAR, and a must-see if your kids are able to stay up until 10pm in July, 9:30pm in August and 9pm in September. Check out our blog post from the Mosaika show, and stay tuned to read all about the new show in 2017! 

Changing of the guard

Not for the wee ones, the changing of the guard would be great for your tweens and teens who have the patience and interest to sit for the show. If you have little ones they may still enjoy watching a few minutes! 


FESTIVALS

Children’s Festival

Winterlude!

Winterlude!

Award-winning programming from Canada and across the world! Check out one of our reader's past experience at the festival.

Ottawa International Buskerfest

The ultimate live performance event, Buskerfest is a huge crowd pleaser! 

Winterlude

This festival is an essential part of Ottawan life, even if you're not too fussy about snow and ice! Whether you're snow tubing, skating, or maybe just enjoying a beaver tail, there is much to see and do! Check out our tips for heading down to the festival.

The Tulip Festival

The Tulip Festival is one of many great things to enjoy about Spring in Ottawa. There's nothing better than seeing the tulip bulbs pop up when the snow has melted!

 

INDOOR PLAY

Cosmic Adventures

Flying squirrel trampoline park

Flying squirrel trampoline park

Kids of all ages can have a blast at Cosmic, an indoor play place in Gloucester (east end of Ottawa.) There are slides, climbing structures, ball pits and a smaller area for the wee ones. A place to go on really cold, hot or rainy days!

Funhaven

Perfect for those in the West end (or even if you're willing to make the drive!) The number of things you can do indoors at Funhaven is astounding - games, jungle gym, toddler play, laser tag, mini bowling, and so much more!

SkyZone

My children are quite distraught that I have still not taken them to SkyZone, the indoor trampoline park. I'll get there at some point soon, but our Kids in the Capital contributors have so many great things to say about it!

Worth a Visit: SkyZone
SkyZone Trampoline Park
Toddler Time at SkyZone 

Flying Squirrel

Another great indoor trampoline park in the East end!

Altitude climbing gym

Lara got a chance to check out Altitude gym last summer, and her three kids really enjoyed the indoor climbing walls. 

Public swimming / wave pools / wading pools

There is nothing better than heading out for a swim when you're stuck for something to do with the kids. In the summer it's great to check out the outdoor pools and wading pools, but in the winter, sometimes we just want to imagine we're on the beach, getting hit by a huge wave. Happy swimming! 

Public skates

There are some great outdoor skating rinks to enjoy in the winter (including the free one at Lansdowne,) but it can be a fun summer activity to cool off on a sweltering day. Check out the City of Ottawa for public skating schedules, or maybe you have a local pond to discover when everything freezes over!


OUTDOOR PLAY

Parc omega

Calypso Water Park

Calypso Water Park

We visited Parc Omega for the first time last summer, and I was really impressed by the experience. The property is SO huge, but there are options to take nature walks and picnics if you don't feel like sitting in your car.

Mont cascades

A lovely, small water park, nestled in the Gatineau hills. And you really can't beat the price when taking the whole family!

Eco odysee

A water maze adventure in the Outaouais region!

Calypso

A water park that invented the saying "go big or go home." This is the ultimate water park experience for your family, and just a quick jaunt just outside Ottawa!

Gatineau Park

THE best place in the Ottawa region to see the Fall leaves, head out for a nighttime snowshoe (yup, kids would enjoy this too!) or spend a bit of time there with both winter and summer camping. There are also great hikes for the older kids, and a short walk around Pink Lake for the younger ones.

Rideau canal boating or skating

Boating in the summer, or skating in the winter - everyone can enjoy this beautiful heritage site in the heart of Ottawa! 

Rideau canal Locks

Don't want to boat OR skate on the canal? Just head down with the kids in the summer to see a boat make its' way through the locks!

Kayaking

Yup, kids can definitely kayak, and it's easier than you think! Check out Lara's post on kayaking and SUPing (Stand Up Paddle Boarding) with her kids.

Pirate adventures

Take an imaginary pirate adventure along the Rideau Canal, and have a barrel of laughs! Arrrrr! 

Feeding the ducks near billings 

There are so many activities in Ottawa that don't cost an arm and a leg, and kids will have so much fun - feeding cute ducks is definitely one of those activities to file away for the days when your kids are whining "I'm bored!!" 

Geo caching

Who knew there were secret treasures hiding all around this city? And people are on the hunt to find them

Saunders farm

Boasting one of the best mazes in the city, along with fantastic activities all summer long (and check out their spooky Halloween activities!) this is a place you'll want to visit again and again. 

Valleyview Little Animal farm

A farm with a tiny train to ride and animals to pet, located in Southwest Ottawa. A great alternative to the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum if you feel like switching things up!

Proulx Farm

We love this farm out in the East end, with their horse-drawn wagon rides, pancake breakfasts, pumpkin patch, strawberry picking and so much more! Proulx Farm is also a staple at some of the farmer's markets around the city.

Mer Bleue Boardwalk

The perfect walk for little ones, with ample snow and ski trails in the winter. Don't forget to bring the bird seed to feed the chickadees!

Mooney's Bay

The perfect place to cool off in the summer, check out Ottawa's Dragonboat Festival, or take a picnic to the park!

Sunday bike days

Each year from mid-May to early September you can cycle along some car-free roads in Ottawa every Sunday. Don’t forget your yearly bike tune-up! 

Petrie Island

In the East end, this beach is great in many seasons, with summer fun and beautiful Fall colours. For the avid naturalist, it's also a great place to spot turtles and participate in Nature Camps!

Ottawa Farmers' Markets

My kids LOVE the Ottawa Farmer's Market. There are locations all over the city, and we usually visit the Orleans location or the big Landsdowne location. My girls enjoy the free samples, picking out fruit and vegetables, and the occasional special events like face painting or balloon animals. 

 

PARKS

Canada-Themed playground at Mooney’s Bay

Canada-Themed playground at Mooney’s Bay

We have so many awesome parks in the city, and when we surveyed YOU, our lovely readers, you told us that these four were your favourites:

Canada-themed playground at Mooney's Bay

Brewer Park

Walter Baker Park

Andrew Haydon Park

Millenium Park

And that's a wrap on our 50 things to do with kids in Ottawa - what's YOUR favourite things to do?