Getting Re-acquainted with Ottawa

It’s been years since I was in the nation’s capital, and the last time I visited, it was a horrendously cold January. I remember little good about the city apart from the fact that the Hudson Bay store on St. Laurent Street was conveniently located, allowing me to escape from the wind that was threatening to freeze my face off.

This time, it was early October; the fall colours just starting to show themselves, and the sun gloriously out. I was there for a day and a half of meetings, but took a week-end at the end to re-acquaint myself with this city, which truly has much to offer. Here are some highlights in pictures.

Furry friend at the Canadian Museum of Nature
Beautiful, but I’d rather see them flying around.
Canadian Museum of Nature. Who doesn’t like dinosaur bones?
I have wanted to see this very famous sculpture, done by Louise Bourgeois, for a long time. What a delight to finally experience it outside the National Art Gallery.
National Art Gallery
I love this piece by Luke Parnell of Prince Rupert. It is called “A Brief History of Northwest Coast Design”. The 11 panels tell the story of First Nations people since European contact. Looking from left to right, it depicts a rich flourishing culture, to the periods of repression, to renewal and rejuvenation.
Helen Kalvak: “My Hands” – 1982. I couldn’t help but be tickled when I saw this limited edition print by Kalvak in the gallery. Joe and I have one too! I was initially drawn to it because of the intricate detailing of the tattoos on the subject’s hands. It was only later that I learned Kalvak had Parkinson’s Disease by the time she created this, and so this image of her hands has taken on greater significance.
Art created out of plants and flowers. I love the ‘hair’ on these bison. This was part of an undertaking called “Mosaicanada 150”, located in a park in Gatineau, Quebec (an easy walk just across the river from Ottawa).
More of Mosaicanada 150.
One more…so beautiful!



My Attempt at 24 (Caches) in 24 (Hours)

Who’s up for a geocaching marathon? I thought I was, so I gave myself the goal of finding 24 caches in 24 hours.

I was perhaps a tad optimistic. One of the first caches of the day ended up being much further away than it appeared. I was not able to find four of the caches I was seeking, and spent too much valuable time on them when I should have just moved on. And then my phone/GPS app died on me, cutting my day a bit short.

All in all, I walked about 18 kilometres today, found 16 caches, and saw some beautiful parts of our city.

Geocaches come in all sizes…from tiny pill bottles…
…to containers the size of picnic coolers!
They can be hidden in hollowed-out tree stumps…
…inside equipment or pipes…
…underneath interpretive signs (magnets hold them in place)…
…or underneath fallen trees. Lots of other places too.
This takes the prize for being the cleverest one I found today. It looks like a bolt, right? I glanced at it a few times before I clued in that it was out of place. I reached under the park bench where it was located and gave it a pull. It turned out…
…the top of the bolt screwed off, allowing a tiny log book to be stored in the hollow bolt! The metal pin is there so the finder can remove the log, sign it, and carefully put it back the way they found it.
Not that I needed any reminders, but today there was lots of evidence that I share this city with wildlife. The lid of this geocache has had a good gnawing by some kind of animal. I saw deer tracks, fresh but not steaming bear scat, and…
…was carefully watched by this eagle while looking for a cache. 

Thanks to all those folks who took the time to set up these caches. You provided me with a great day of fun, with only a little frustration. As for those caches that evaded me today, I will be back!

Hiking Back in Time

What started out as driving rain turned, within a matter of about 20 minutes, into a sunny hot evening for my Wednesday night hike. The destination this time was Canyon City, an historic spot on the banks of the Yukon River near the once tumultuous rapids at Miles Canyon. During the time of the Klondike Gold Rush (1896 – 1899) the waters here were the nemesis of many gold seekers trying to reach Dawson City. About 300 rafts crashed against the rocks, and a handful of people died. Some enterprising souls set up a tramline at Canyon City to help people transport their goods around the rapids. They charged 3 cents per pound to have goods hauled on the horse-drawn cars to Whitehorse, about 8 kilometres downstream.

The rapids were tamed once a hydro dam was built near here in the late 1950s, and all that remains of the once thriving community of Canyon City are piles of tin cans and some decaying logs from old buildings. Modern additions include a replica of a tram line and some interpretive signage.

This is a family-friendly walk that should hold interest for anyone. The Yukon Conservation Society provides guided hikes here in the summer. Check their website for details.

Oh, and there is at least one geochache in the area, but I am not going to tell you where it is!

milescanyon4milescanyon2milescayon3Detail of one of the tin cans. Notice the jagged way it was opened.

An historic photo taken from one of the interpretive panels. This was Canyon City in its heyday and shows the tranway.
Replica of the tramway

Breakfast With a View

There is a reason that Whitehorse, Yukon is known as ‘the wilderness city’. I woke up early this morning itching to walk. A half hour drive and a one hour hike brought me to this spot, where I enjoyed my breakfast.



The hike took me above Fish Lake. If you are planning to walk it any time soon, know that the trail is pretty muddy right now. However it is a short hike that anyone in reasonable shape can do. There is also a geocache at the top that I found; an added bonus.


Walking the Labyrinth

A fellow pilgrim read my lament about the restlessness I have been feeling since returning home from my recent walk in Spain.  She contacted me about a labyrinth she constructed after her first Camino. I decided to seek it out today.


I was stunned by the amount of work she must have put into creating this, and was grateful for the chance to walk it. Like many people, I find contemplative walking to be strong medicine. If I have a problem I am trying to sort through, or if I am stressed or out of sorts, a walk almost always helps.

While I don’t feel at liberty to share the location of this labyrinth, my friend’s work has inspired me to look for a spot close to my home where I could create a similar one, for use by anyone who could benefit from it. A new summer project.



On the Trail of Sam McGee

It was a great day of hiking today along the Sam McGee Trail, just south of Carcross, Yukon. The trail was developed to allow for the use of a tramway, built by Sam McGee in 1905 to service a silver mine. Much of the cable and some of the ore buckets are still there.


It’s a bit of a climb (9 km. of pretty much up) but worth it to see the view over Windy Arm and the surrounding area.

I am watching you.
Still some ice on the lake.


We didn’t make it to the very top since there was still quite a bit of snow up high, but that gives us an excuse to return again later in the summer.