We took a break for a few days and visited the city of Ottawa which is about six hours north east of our home by car. Ottawa is the second coldest national capital in the world next to Moscow, Russia but it experienced a thaw last week with rain and temperatures well above freezing. Our daughters had been anticipating the annual Winterlude festival for weeks and were most disappointed with the big melt. But February thaws do not last forever, and the long weekend was marked with clear skies, sunshine and very cold temperatures. Never go to Winterlude without your long underwear!
We spent hours outdoors from morning until night taking in the Crystal Garden at Confederation Park in Ottawa and the impressive snow sculptures across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec. In the evenings a light and sound show was followed by an outdoor concert. We watched Jim Cuddy and Roch Voisin on separate nights as they performed live in sub zero temperatures to enthusiastic crowds.
And of course, the biggest attraction was the world's largest skating rink on the Rideau Canal which features 7.8 km (4.8 miles) of ice surface. My eldest daughter skated 10 km in a round trip while I walked carefully on the ice in my winter boots. Kiosks along the route offered food, drink, souvenirs and shelters while police on ATVs and many volunteers patrolled the crowds.
This slide show features more snow and ice than many people in the world will see in a lifetime. The people I saw were having just as much fun as those who travel to warm destinations in the winter. Cold winters are inevitable in Canada and we can complain or we can get out and make the best of it. My taxes were used to pay for this admission free carnival so why not take advantage and join the party?!