Haunted Walks Ottawa - Mackenzie King Estate

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.  


HAunted Walks Ottawa Mackenzie King

Some people say that Canadian history is boring. Perhaps they have never done the Haunted Walk Experience at the Mackenzie King Estate.

Two years ago, my wife, Sandy and our son, David, did a haunted walk tour around downtown Ottawa. Haunted walk are the tour guides who wear the black capes and carry the lanterns. We enjoyed our experience as we learned a lot of history about the city and was not too scary for children. 

When I saw they also offered haunted tours at Mackenzie King estate, it was on our summer to-do list!

Haunted Walk Mackenzie King 2.jpg

We arrived at P6 parking lot well ahead of our 8:15 pm meeting time and explored a few of the trails. We were greeted by our black-cloaked tour guides who provided us with flashlights and also suggested applying a coat of bug spray. 

At 8:30 pm, we met our tour guide, Natasha, and we were off to hear ghost stories and explore the grounds of the estate. 

Haunted Walk Mackenzie King 3.jpg

Mackenzie King is one of our most well-known prime ministers. King led us through a good portion of the Great Depression and World War II. He may be equally as well-known for participating in seances and believing in spiritualism. Ripe fodder for a ghost tour. 

The estate is divided up into two distinct areas. The first is Kingswood where Mackenzie King purchased his first property in 1903. Natasha took us to the main cottage and shared a few spooky stories about the cottage. King was particularly close to his mother and was devastated when she passed away. We were allowed to explore inside the rooms with our flashlight. I felt like I was on an episode of Ghost Hunters. 

We proceeded to the second and more grandiose section of the estate, Moorside. King developed this area after he became prime minister. He would receive foreign dignitaries and heads of state at Moorside. Natasha shared more information about King and some of the strange sightings at Moorside. 

We were again allowed to explore inside the building with our flashlights. After hearing some of the stories, David succeeded in scaring me! He snuck up behind me and said, “Hello Father.” I could have sworn it was Mackenzie King himself.

Our last stop was the Abbey Ruins. This was the scariest and most spectacular area of the estate. King was interested in architecture and would save portions of buildings that were being demolished. These included the parliament hill building which had been destroyed in the 1916 fire. We were treated to a clear sky where we could see the stars and moon. Natasha shared her creepiest stories and we all gripped our flashlights a little bit tighter. And they say Canadian history is boring. 

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If you go - it is advised to bring mosquito spray as a good portion of the tour is outside in the evening so that means bugs. Also, coming to Mackenzie King Estate is not too difficult as all the parkways are open. Once the tour is done the main parkways are closed so this means taking back roads back to the highway. It may be helpful to have a GPS or a good map. As mentioned, the tour was not crazy scary and would be suitable for an older child, especially if he/she is into history. 

For more information and schedules visit, www.hauntedwalk.com

Full disclosure, Stephen’s tickets were covered by Haunted Walk, but all opinions are his own.

A Whitewater Adventure with Wilderness Tours

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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Last summer, one of our family highlights was going on the Ottawa City Rafting Tour.  Once the warm weather hit this year, we decided to relive our whitewater adventures.  We wanted to go further afield and chose Wilderness Tours which is located about an hour and twenty minutes west of Ottawa along the Ottawa River.

white water rafting Ottawa

Arriving on-site,  the first thing I was impressed by was the size of the facility.  They have a restaurant, overnight accommodations, bungee jump and basketball courts amongst numerous other features.  We signed up for the family gentle rafting day trip and were quickly processed.

Our guide, Drew,  quickly instilled confidence as he briefed all participants about the safety aspects of the trip and introduced the other guides.  He had a laid back attitude, not about the safety, but made everyone feel at home and excited about the experience.

Soon enough, we were hopped on a yellow school bus and were ferried to our drop-off point on the Ottawa River.  With lifejackets on, we met up with Drew and were heading down the river in our raft. The trip started off with a bang as we took a rapid appropriately called Initiation.   Drew called out for everyone to get into our safety positions as we hit the rapid. It was exhilarating but I never felt in danger.

Wilderness Tours Ottawa

After getting through the first rapid, what would come next was incredible.  We passed through a second smaller rapid and then saw a few people on the other rafts pointing.  We came around the bend and saw two majestic eagles. One was perched on a rocky outcrop while the other was further back in a tree.  The closest bird was only about fifteen metres or so from our raft. It is the closest I have ever felt to being in a wilderness documentary.  After about a minute, the bird flew off leaving all of us with our jaws still in the water.

It was hard to top what we had just seen but the rest of the day was amazing as well.  At a calm point along the river, everyone had a chance to get out of the raft and go for a relaxing swim.  

Swimming in the rapids

After cooling down, we were back inside the raft heading to our next big thrill. We took the Butterfly rapid at full tilt offering up a lot of excitement. Next, we headed to an area of the rapid called Caterpillar Hole where it was possible to position the raft as if we were surfing. This was David’s favourite part of the entire trip. He loved having the waves crashing into him as the guide expertly managed our raft. I was happy I was on the side furthest from the waves only getting mildly drenched.  

Before lunch, participants also had a chance to get out of the raft and take one of the rapids on their back.  I am not the strongest swimmer in the world so passed but it looked like everyone was having a good time.

Once all the raft and body surfing was done,  it was time for lunch. We landed on shore at the scenic Garvin’s Chute with huge appetites.  I’ll be honest, I was expecting perhaps warmed over hot dogs or floppy burgers as we were in the middle of the wilderness.  Instead, we got super tasty sausages and chicken burgers. It was as good as anything you would get in a restaurant.

With our hunger satisfied, it was time for the final leg of our journey.  We took a couple more smaller rapids. My family and the other people in our raft playfully teased me as I dropped down to the safety position for each rapid.  

We wrapped up the day by landing our raft on shore and being offered  a glass of water, mango juice, lemonade or craft beer which was brewed at the nearby Whitewater Brewing Company.

It was time to get back on the bus and head back to the headquarters.  Everyone looked exhausted but happy from an exhilarating day on the river.   

I would highly recommend the family rafting tour for almost any age.  There were certainly a few thrills but the guides were very safety conscious and kept us in good shape.  The day was also seamlessly organized. We never had to wait for the bus, lunch, etc. It was obvious they have been doing these tours for a long time and also know what they are doing.  

For more information, visit www.wildernesstours.com

Wilderness Tours rafts

Summer Fairs in the Ottawa Area

One thing my family looks forward to during the summer are all the community and small town fairs that happen each year in Ottawa and the surrounding areas. With that in mind here is a list of where and when you can plan on heading out for some cotton candy, demolition derbies, carousels, concerts, live entertainment, and more!

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July 13-15: Almonte Fair
Highlights include: Chili cook off, Zip-E the clown and Team T&J

July 27-29: Beachburg Fair
Demolition Derby, DJ Dancy Party, Buck-a-Roo Breakfast, and an ATV Poker Run

August 8-11: Navan Fair
Concerts with George Canyon, Chad Brownlee and more, PC Superdogs, Little Ray’s Reptiles and more!

August 8-11: Arnprior Fair
Miniature horse show, agricultural showcases, midway and more!

August 16-25: The Capital Fair
Monster Truck Show, Youth Talent search, birds of prey show, Soper Creek Wildlife

August 23-25: Chesterville Fair 
Homecrafts, Agiculture and Family Fun!

September 5-8: Russell Fair
Classic Auto & Bike Show, Craft and Merchant Market, Strongman Competition, Sheep shoes

September 19-22: Richmond Fair 
Emerson Drive concert, demolition derby, agricultural showcase

September 26-29: Carp Fair 
Superdogs “Canadogs,” agriculture shows, family circle tent, antiques area

October 3-6: Metcalfe Fair
Agriculture exhibitions, heavy horse pull, demolition derby, truck pull

 

A family night out with the Ottawa Fury

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.  

Certain summer nights are almost perfect.  We experienced one of those moments at a recent Ottawa Fury FC match.  

Ottawa Fury

The first element was the weather.  As all Ottawans know, our spring has been less than stellar. The night we attended the Fury game, there was not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was a perfect twenty-two degrees celsius.   

The second factor was the game day experience.  Our son, David, had been picked to be part of the pre-game ceremonies. We arrived at TD Place  stadium and met up with someone from the Fury staff. We were soon down on field level. David had the opportunity to watch the players practicing. He enthusiastically gave them high-fives at the end of their practice.

Ottawa Fury Game

David was given instructions for what would come next.  He was given a Fury flag along with a number of other children. I must admit to feeling chills as the players walked out accompanied by the booming voice of the stadium announcer. David got an up-close view as the players passed through the tunnel of Fury flags.

Soon enough, both national anthems were complete and it was time to make our way back to our seats. The Fury were playing against the Charlotte Independence. Both teams were evenly matched and the soccer was high quality. I liked the fact Fury fans represented all different ages and demographics. There were families enjoying an evening out along with more hardcore supporters who probably knew the history of each player.   

Ottawa Fury Player

After forty-five minutes of action, the score was 0-0. It was the perfect time to stretch our legs so we made a beeline to the family fun zone. This area features a variety of activities including inflatables, face-painting and Jenga blocks. Basically, it is the ideal place to take your younger Fury fan if they want a break from the game. David took a few shots on net and scored a goal. David was craving a hotdog so we headed to the concessions area where he ate almost all the dog leaving me a small bite-sized portion to enjoy!

It was time for the second half to begin. The major excitement for us was when the Fury promo team threw  t-shirts into the crowd. A shirt landed close to our seats but was just out of reach.  An older fan grabbed the child-sized t-shirt and did the kind thing giving it to David.

Unfortunately for the Fury, even though they carried much of the play, Charlotte scored a late goal marking a 1-0 victory. To be honest, the score did not really matter to us. We had a great night out and plan to attend at least another game this summer.  

Ottawa Fury Soccer Game

There is something of a Canadian invasion going on with the Fury lately as many of the starting players are from Canada. There are even several home-grown players from Ottawa that you can cheer. For more information about the Fury schedule and tickets, visit, www.ottawafuryfc.com

Special thanks to the Ottawa Fury for providing David with tickets for the purpose of this article; all views are his own.