Ottawa area attractions: Mont Cascades

by Amanda Our 2 year old has a new phrase these days. “Water slides. Go! Water Slides?”  We are frequent visitors to Mont Cascade. So frequent that we have purchased season passes again this year and our son recognizes when we get close because he says “Water Slides!!” Mont Cascade is located in Cantley, Quebec, approximately 25 minutes from downtown Ottawa.

Ticket prices are only $15 for adults or $35+tax for a season’s pass (2 and under are free!) making it is a very affordable option for some fun in the sun. The water being heated this year adds to even more enjoyment.  At $35 for a seasons pass we can justify only going for a few hours at a time. Sometimes with smaller children this is needed for those who still nap or just need to head home for some quiet time.

The kids area consists of a 3 smaller slides that end up in the beach like wading pool and 2 larger slides that bring you down to the bottom in their own little area. Check it out here. Our 2 year old loves going down the 3 smaller slides on his own but with the longer walk up to the top for the 2 larger slides, called Lemonade and Tangerine for their colours, he has an adult ride with him.

We have discovered that depending on what kind of bathing suit bottoms you wear will greatly impact your speed, or lack thereof.  My husband has his “water slide shorts” that offer speed! Even going on the slides with our son they catch some great speed and shoot out the bottom.  If you are wearing bathing suit bottoms that are made out of cotton you may find yourself pushing yourself down the slide more.  When we visit during the more busy times one adult generally stays at the top of the slide and the other at the bottom to do the catching as they come into the water. Our son does the small walk back up to the top by himself with us watching him. This is done more for the fact that he doesn’t understand the concept of not letting the older kids jump in front of him and to wait until the child before him is completely out of the way before it is his turn!  There is a height restriction in the childrens area but adult or older children are able to slide with the little ones at all times.

With many daycamps frequenting the park this summer I suggest trying to go on a Monday or Tuesday. Generally these are days where daycamps do not take day trips off site.  Plan to be there right for opening, 10am, or head later in the day around 3 when many people are leaving for the day to get home for dinner.  That being said we did meet some friends there on a Friday early afternoon and despite the parking lot being full the kid area was not overwhelming.

Bring a cooler and pack your lunch and snacks. There is a canteen available and a Subway restaurant. Prices can start to add up quickly. Just remember not to bring any glass bottles or containers, as they are not permitted.  If you get there early grab a picnic table with some shade and an umbrella.  There are also a few cabana’s to rent if you are going with a group but I do find them very awkwardly placed over by a smaller pool and not close to the children’s area and away from many of the main slides. This could be a draw for those with older children so the parents have a quiet place to sit but those with young children would not have easy access from the kids area to their cabana’s.

For older children there is “Splash Forest” with a few small tube slides, spraying water and buckets of fun.  We have only frequented a few of the “big slides” and have found that the line ups can get quite big in the mid day.  Expect a line up to wait for your tube or mat if they are required for your slide of choice and then a long walk up to the top of the slide. However, it would be a great way to tire out the kids for the drive home!

The lifeguard in me also feels the need to gently remind you to keep your eyes on your child at all times and to stay close.  From what I have seen over the past two years frequenting this water park is that the lifeguards are not always as vigilant as they could be.   Because they are a private waterpark and not a City pool they do not have to follow the same standards and the lifeguard to bather ratio is quite large.  We have noticed there are a few lifeguards who are fantastic with the children, encouraging high fives as they walk back up to the slides, gently reminding children to walk instead of run and responding to questions or needs of park users. Next time you want someplace to cool off why not head to Cascades? We’ll see you there!

Amanda is a mom to a 2 year old boy and 4 month old baby girl.  When she is not out having fun with the kids you can find her getting her yoga on at

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Calypso Waterpark

by Jayda

We recently moved to Ottawa. As a parting gift from colleagues at his previous job we received two generous gift cards to Calypso Waterpark. As two-time water park season pass holders at  Sandcastles in Pittsburgh, it was a guaranteed hit. Thank you! DH took the day off work so we could go as a family on a weekday, hoping the crowds would be a little more tame. Today was the day. It was perfect. Crowds were manageable, wait times were bearable and the temperature was a tolerable at 27 degrees celsius. Swim suits, towels, sunscreen, snacks and water, check, check, check check, and check. We are off! The excitement was high.

For just less than the average car payment a family of four can enter the water park. $136 for our family, plus $5 for parking and $5 for a locker. A little steep, but you soon forget how much it hurt at the ticket booth once you are racing down the Jungle Run, riding the waves in the Calypso Palace or playing chicken with your life on the Aqualoop.

Colassal is the only way to describe Calypso. It boasts more than 35 waterslides, 100 water games, Canada's largest wave pool, the highest free-standing waterslide tower in North America and a 750 meter jungle themed  river adventure, complete with sound effects.

Co·los·sal [kuh-los-uhl] extraordinarily great in size, extent, or degree; gigantic; huge

Recently, MSN Travel, branded Calypso the best waterpark in the world! MSN Travel published its top ten list of the best waterparks and put Calypso in the top spot, above Disneyworld's Typhoon Lagoon and the World Waterpark at the West Edmonton Mall. For us, the best waterpark in the world is only 40 minutes away. I suspect an annual trip.

First up, the wave pool, at the request/demand of JWS, age 5. To say that JWS loves water is an understatement. Right from the first bath he had as an infant, when he kicked and squealed in delight in the freedom of the bath water. Our little amphibious creature. The harsher the assault of the wave, the bigger the smile on his face. He couldn't get enough. On the other hand, LWS, age 3, enjoyed the waves from the safe, secure arms of Dad. He is our cautious one, when it comes to water. As I tried to keep up to JWS in the wave pool, a workout in itself, I tasted salt! All the water at Calypso is salt water. I have officially forgotten about the cost of admission.

Next the Jungle Run. This was the family favourite; the attraction we all could enjoy, equally. We relaxed as the current pushed us along, raced as the jets propelled us and anticipated the next water feature. Participants under 1.52 meters must wear a personal floatation device. No problem, Calypso offers life jackets free of charge.

On to the Zoo Lagoon. I highly recommend a one adult to one child ratio for constant surveillance. If you can recruit a second adult for an extra set of eyes, I would do it! It was a little nerve-racking keeping track of our guys. LWS had a blast at the Zoo Lagoon. This area of the park is reserved the smallest swimmers. There are levers to pull that make the giraffes, hippos and elephants spit water on the innocence bystanders. Hilarious, when you are three. The slides are slow and short, preventing terrifying our youngest sliders and allowing the older siblings to be creative on how to go down (ie. head first).

Adjacent to the Zoo Lagoon, is the Pirate's Aquaplay.  Stairs, slides, ropes, cannons, walkways, Arr Matey. Once your child is swallowed by the ship, don't be surprised if it is hours before the next sighting. And then just when you think you might have spotted your child in the depths of the ship, the giant bucket of water dumps, washing out any hope. Fingers crossed, rumbling tummies will draw them out to refuel.

Calypso is educational too. DH and JWS set there sites on the Zoomerang. A fabulously terrifying ride that takes two riders sitting in a tube, and zips them down a slide towards a horrifying drop-off and then immediately up a wall, designed much like a skateboard ramp. This ride is sure to make even the bravest souls quiver. JWS was insistent on trying it, so DH and JWS jumped into line. As the two climb the stairs, DH educates JWS with his first little physics lesson. "You see JWS, it is all about the weight/momentum relationship. So, don't worry we won't go that high because you are not heavy enough." As the slide whips them up the ramp and they approach the upper limit of the Zoomerang (higher than anybody else), DH remembers he failed physics! Friction, he forgot to factor in friction! From a bench below, LLS and I hear a high-pitched scream (from DH) then sighed a big breath of relief as gravity forces them back down to a reasonable altitude. Phew! JWS was laughing and squealing as DH tried to salvage some shred of dignity as they exited the ride.

Other noteworthy features.

  1. There was plenty of parking. Parking attendants guided vehicles into nice, neat, efficient rows.
  2. There was ample space to set up a family headquarters. Or the option to rent a private Cabana.
  3. The food options were decent. I even found a good salad.
  4. Cash free, card free transactions. We didn't use this feature but it is genius. Money at My Fingertip.

There are only two things negative things I can say about Calypso.

  1. The lack of recycling. Only recycling bins for cans were provided. What about paper and plastic?
  2. It was too much fun! Good luck convincing your children it is time to go home.

We logged six exhilarating hours at Calypso. In all fairness the admission fees are comparable to all other top ranked waterparks in the world, making the Best Waterpark in the World, Calypso, a bargain!

Jayda Siggers, PhD is a nutritionist, a coach at Clean Plate Cleanse, a master mediator living under a co-dictatorship, whole food advocate, living a little greener everyday.

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Frugal Family Water Park Fun

by Caroline Water parks are part of summer in my family. Ever since my husband and I were dating, we would hike off to one water park or another, and ride through (and on) tubes and around loops getting soaking wet and having a blast. Call it what you will, but we fell in love over swimsuit wedgies and sunburns.

One place we visited was Mont Cascades, in Cantley, Quebec.

Recently, my husband was hankering (read: Pleasepleaseplease can we go to a water park Hun? Please???) to spend some time in a water park, and agreed our son, now two, would be old enough to enjoy it as well. So, we looked at all the water parks in the Ottawa area, and decided on Mont Cascades for his introduction to the water park experience. We figured this park would not have parking fees, traffic jams, long lineups and maybe have a more relaxed atmosphere, one where we wouldn’t worry quite as much about crowds, or how many people would see me in a bathing suit. Seriously.

Mont Cascades delivered. We discovered a great, inexpensive and enjoyable outing for our family with our choice. We have been twice this season, and are very happy with the experience both times.

The best part is the price. For the park’s 20th anniversary, all entry fees have been dropped to $10 (plus tax). Kids two and under, as usual, are free. This meant, for us, that our entry for the day was $23.20! This was a much welcome alternative to $88 plus parking at other places we looked at. Parking is free at Mont Cascades, and you can bring in all your own food.

Subway is available if you don’t want to bring your own food, so at least you can have a healthy choice other than fries and burgers. I believe there is also bar that serves regular fare. We didn’t check out either, since we had all our own food with us.

The first time we arrived, we came for the afternoon, and the second time, we came in the morning and spent a good part of our day. Both times, the parking lot was quite full, and a bit helter-skelter to find a spot. Not surprisingly, most were family vehicles that had gaggles of kids and teenagers piling out, like clown cars at the circus. Who knew minivans could hold so much? No matter where you park, the walk is never that far to get to the gates.

I suggest arriving right at ten a.m., when the park opens, if you are planning a full day. Not only will you get a better parking spot, but there are several tents and areas with shade, and they fill up really quickly. If you come anytime after opening, you’ll have to do paper-rock-scissors with the family of ten taking up the last table, or sit out in the sun. Both times we were in the sun (which is just fine), but we did manage to snag a half-picnic table to stash our cooler and bags. The park suggests not bringing in valuables, of course, but we felt very safe leaving our stuff “out” in the groups of people.

The park is kept clean, and we appreciated the ability to recycle our waste from our picnic lunch. Picnic tables and structures are in good shape too. There are change rooms in the main building, and pay lockers (bring loonies) if you want, but again, if you arrive later in the day, you likely won’t get one. A suggestion is to bring a bicycle cable lock to keep your stuff attached to a picnic table leg, if you feel necessary.

I didn’t bring my wallet, and stashed my camera and phone in the car, so I have no pictures. Next time I’ll buy a waterproof instant camera and get some snaps.

Neither time was the lineup long for entry, when we arrived. Even with lots of people waiting, park staff had all their ticket windows open, and everyone was moved through quickly. You can pay by debit or credit card, but we always had cash to make it quick, and negate the need to carry our wallets.

Once you have your tickets, you go through a gate where they make sure you don’t have any glass or sharp knives (tip: pre cut veggies and cheese so you don’t need a paring knife). The gate is also where you get your massive, indelible-paint-like stamp on your hand. My son was ecstatic to get a “sticker” for his hand, and giggled like mad when the park staffer stamped him. Mine has yet to wear off, but my son’s came off right away. I suppose this means I need to moisturize more. I have lizard skin.

For us, we didn’t venture to any of the big slides in the park, as our son is just a toddler, and was relegated to the 48” and under area, called Mini-Splash. This was no sacrifice, since there are five slides in the kid’s area to play on.

Three white coloured slides are right off the main wading pool. One is a wide slide that several kids, or kids + parents can go down at once, and another is a straight, narrow slide that one child can easily slide down. There is also a twisty-turny one, but very tame. Two orange and green slides are above the main area, and exit out to a separate deck. Both quite fun, twisty-turny slides for kids. My son liked these best. I’ll admit they were right up my alley too, I’ve slowed down in my old age *creak*.

One thing we really liked was that all the slides are capable of taking a parent with a child seated firmly in your lap. You can stay with them the whole time. For smaller children, this is so important, as they learn water safety. Always within reach, is the adage, and I firmly adhere to that. The wide slide in the main area could handle my husband and me with our son between us, and he got a real kick out of all three of us sliding together, holding our hands and grinning ear to ear each time we went. Every time we would go down together, people would laugh. I suppose we made quite the sight, two adults holding a tiny boy’s hands and all screaming “WHEEEE!” at the top of our lungs.

Another plus is that you can bring in your own flotation devices for the kids, instead of having to rent the ones the park provides. We have a wee swimsuit for our son that has foam on the back and front, and fits him properly. He looks like a robin-egg blue turtle with a tiny rear-end, but he floats on his back automatically, if he gets in trouble. I believe you can also rent lifejackets, but it’s not a requirement for small kids.

There are two other pools for swimming and wading, and both are quite nice. Once is right by the main buildings, and another is up a wee hill, and has water jets spouting at various points, like a massive town centre water fountain you can actually play in. We tended to stay at the slides, as both times we went, the pools were packed with older kids splashing. But we did get some swim time in, since our son is learning to dunk his head, blow bubbles, and float.

For over 48”, but not ready for the big slides, is a place they call Splash Forest. This has one of those massive tilting water buckets, and some tube slides that come off a big play structure. There are water squirt guns, and various other attractions. We went up to see if our son might like to play in it, but he was more content to watch. The big bucket spilling over everyone was quite a fun game for him to watch, and he would jump and point in anticipation as the young boys all gathered right under the apex of where the water dropped. He thought it was hilarious as they all screamed. We didn’t take him under it in case it scared him, though. Next year, when he’s older, my guess will be we won’t be able to keep him away.

Overall, I think the value for what you pay is very high at Mont Cascades, and would recommend it to families with small kids, or even older ones who want to ride some really cool water slides like Black Magic or Mammoth River and not blow the bank. It’s close to Ottawa, very friendly, and family-oriented. But don’t take my word for it, you should go!

Directions from Ottawa: Take the MacDonald Cartier Bridge North and take the 2nd exit, Highway 50, direction East to Montreal/Gatineau. Take 1st exit, Saint-Louis, #138 and turn right (North) onto Highway 307. Drive 15 Km, turn left onto Mont Cascades Road and proceed 7 Km to Mont Cascades.

Caroline bought a Mustang, and began dating the man who sold it to her. Two years later, after a wedding and the birth of her son, she found herself with a family. The car seat fits just fine in the Mustang and her two-year old son takes great pleasure in calling it “Daddy’s car”. Caroline has stopped correcting him. He did earn a commission when he sold it, after all… You can find her blogging at and