This year marks the 150th anniversary of Canada and we were fortunate enough to pass through Ottawa on July 1st to be part of the celebration. We arrived on the morning of Canada Day and the city was alive! There was a sea of people wearing red and white, eagerly waiting to kick off the festivities. I was traveling with a few of my friends, some of whom are Americans, and it was great to show off the Capital of Canada and for them to join in the celebration. Parliament Hill was packed so we decided to observe from the Gatineau side (in the Outaouais region of Quebec).
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, we stayed at Nordik Spa-Nature just 15 minutes away from Ottawa. Known for providing a stimulating and rejuvenating experience, Nordik Spa-Nature is the largest spa in North America, with numerous outdoor baths, saunas, and an amazing infinity pool overlooking the Quebec landscape.
My favourite part of the spa is the Källa pool – it is a large floating salt-water pool containing 10 tons of Epsom salt. Nordik Spa-Nature’s Källa pool is only the second of its kind in the entire world, the other being in Switzerland. I recommend checking it out earlier in the morning when it is less busy.
The spa also has two lodges where you can stay. They both have rustic architecture, exceptional views, and refined, modern décor – the best part is that they are right next to the spa so you can just spa all day long! The onsite accommodation is perfect for family/friend gatherings where you can all enjoy the spa, and cook and eat meals together. It’s the perfect weekend getaway.
Next, we were on our way to Montebello, just over an hour east of Ottawa, towards Montreal. We stopped in for the world’s best poutine and burger at Delice Champetre! The owner, Daniel, welcomed us like we were family and he made sure we all enjoyed our delicious meals. The restaurant sources all their ingredients locally and we could definitely taste the difference!
We also stopped by to check out the local wildlife at Parc Omega. The park lets you discover the wildlife of Canada such as moose, elk, bison, wolves, and bears, all within their natural environment, and from the comfort of your car. There are also two walking trails where you can go for a nice leisurely stroll and feed carrots to deer and farm animals. Be warned though, I was totally “attacked” by the goats because they were all hungry for the carrots! 🙂
Just north of Montebello (still within the Outaouais region of Quebec) is this magical place called Kenauk. Kenauk is a 100 sq. mile, 65,000 acre protected wilderness domain originally granted by the King of France (it’s that old!). It is one of North America’s largest and longest-established private reserves with more than 70 lakes within its borders. There are only a handful of chalets that you can rent and they are mostly in very remote locations where you may have your own private lake. You will not see another person for the full duration of your stay. This year, we opted for a new chalet (Chalet Wilson). It has all the modern conveniences, but still in a rustic setting. The lake was not private but it was still very quiet and was perfect for us to kick back and relax.
This is my 8th year in a row visiting Kenauk – it has definitely become an annual tradition. We love how this is the one week a year where we reconnect with nature and for the most part – disconnect from the world. Most of the reserve has weak or no cell phone reception, so it kind of forces you to disconnect and enjoy each others company.
Many of the lakes are also filled with fish that you can catch (or at least try to), and cook. We went fishing one day and we learned we were not really good at it, but at the end of the day, we caught a few and they were delicious.
Another fun tradition was to take turns cooking delicious meals…
As always, it was hard to say goodbye to Kenauk, but we know we will be back for another adventure soon.
On our way out, we stopped by the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello for lunch. It is the world’s largest log cabin and is on a beautiful property overlooking the Ottawa River. Walking into the hotel, you are welcomed by an impressive six sided fireplace in the main lobby.
The chateau grounds are beautifully kept and it was fun just walking around to explore.
We definitely cannot wait to visit this region again! It has been amazing with lots of great memories.
Beautiful places????! I wanna go! How do I book??
Beautifully captured and well-written, Barry! These are memories that’ll last a lifetime!
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