Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Daenerys Has Brought Dragons

That title, of course, is a Game Of Thrones reference that I couldn't resist. Picking up where I left off, the Ice Dragon Boat Festival was part of Winterlude, and this final race of the morning got underway just as I had gotten in place for some shots.

The boats got to the finish line before I did, of course, and here they are. They were moved to the sides of the course for the lunch time break, but would be back in action in the afternoon.

The crowds were out and about, and some of them were dragon boat teams, looking quite cheerful.

The Winterlude Ice Hogs were also present among the crowd for photo ops.

Here we have a view of the course from the north side.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Grey Day On The Lake

On the second Saturday in Winterlude, I made my way to Dow's Lake, where an event was underway. This view is where the Canal widens out into the lake. The Arboretum, part of the Experimental Farm, is the wooded parkland in the background.

There are options for a treat here if you're skating, including Beavertails, which has huts at various sites in addition to its permanent location. The company, based out of Ottawa, sells fried pastry treats in the shape of a beaver's tail.

Here is the junction in the skateway's path. Going to the left will take you to the end of the skateway at the Hartwell Locks. Going to the right takes you to the north end of Dow's Lake. It was off to the right for me.

There was a crowd up ahead, with a section of the skateway blocked off for races.

It was the second year of the Ice Dragon Boat Festival. The organizers have been doing a summer version of this event for years on end (have a look at last year's event in this post from my writer's blog). Last year was their first year doing so for Winterlude, and I posted about that here. It proved successful, and so it returned again this year.

I was just arriving as the last race of the morning was due to get started, with an hour's break for lunch before afternoon races would get underway. Teams use the same five dragon boats in these heats, which are then turned over to the next set of racers. An apparatus looking rather like skates are attached beneath the boat, and instead of oars, the rowers use sticks that look like they can spike into the ice surface, propelling the boats along. The rules allow that if a boat gets stuck, up to two rowers can get out to give it a push- but they can't get back in again. I chatted with a couple of participants, who had been in races in the morning and would be again in the afternoon. They confirmed that this is harder than the summer version. During the summer races, you're feeling the effort in your core, whereas with this, the effort really plays itself out in your arms. 

I just reached the starting line in time to catch the beginning of the race. It didn't take long before all five boats were off, working their way down the surface of the ice. I have more from this event tomorrow.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Along The Skateway

I have more views of the Rideau Canal today during Winterlude. Here we start from a familiar point, looking east from on top of the Bank Street Bridge on a grey day.

Dow's Lake is further west, where the Canal widens out at this spot. The skateway comes up the length of the ice and goes back down again. Snowplows are parked around here to be deployed on the ice surface as needed. Numerous skaters will start off from here, and there is even a ramp down to the ice if you're using a stroller or a wheelchair.

These were taken less than a half hour later- a nod to how fast skies can change this time of year. The city's transit system runs free shuttles on the weekend during Winterlude, and I took one from the lake back towards the Bank Street Bridge, where I crossed the ice. This view west takes in skaters; note the two paramedics in the green jackets among them. Medics skate the length of the skateway in pairs during the skating season, toting backpacks with essential supplies (presumably even a defibilrator), responding to anyone who's in need of attention.

This view east still has blue sky, and a view of the bridge itself from the surface level.

Then I turned back and looked west again.

A few days later, I was waiting for the Winterlude shuttle below the bridge and took shots from this perspective. The eastern view gives a glimpse through the trees of the former convent that houses the Royal College Of Physicians and Surgeons up on the top of the slope. The western view that follows it has the skaters making their way through what was a snowy afternoon.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Far North

The Ottawa Public Library has a couple of bookmobiles that make their way to various sites during the week that are either in areas perhaps underserved by library branches or events like this. One of them was parked at City Hall on Sundays throughout Winterlude.

As mentioned yesterday, City Hall was the scene for various activities, which included a climbing wall for kids to try the sport out.

Parks Canada had photo displays, as well as this inflatable mascot.

The photo displays were on panels, each of them taken from places in Canada's Far North, most of them around Sirmilik National Park in Nunavut, with wildlife, beautifully rugged landscapes, and even a First Nations woman in a striking profile shot. The Parks guide I chatted with talked about the balance between bringing visitors to this part of the country versus safeguarding its ecosystem. 

This critter happens to be an Arctic fox in summer colours.

There's even history in one of these photographs. This marker is the final resting place for a member of the ill fated Franklin Expedition. The two ships of that expedition, the Erebus and the Terror, sunken in Arctic waters, are now a national historic site, overseen by Parks Canada.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

At City Hall

City Hall has been the site of some Winterlude events, here in the plaza in front of the newer wing and the provincial courthouse. That includes inflatable versions of the festival's mascots, the Ice Hogs (groundhogs, in this case).

On the day I took these shots, the Ice Hogs themselves were strolling about. There are four of them in total, escorted about by volunteers during the festival from site to site. I saw them on numerous occasions throughout the festival.

The skating rink at City Hall is popular. It opens in December and might well stay open deep into March, providing a skating place when the Canal is not available. I caught it first at night, with skaters on the surface. The new wing of City Hall and the drill hall occupying Cartier Square provide the backdrop for these shots.

During Winterlude, aside from regular skating, the rink also held events and demonstrations, like a shinny game between NHL alumni, or figure skating. These are young skaters with the Minto Skating Club in the midst of a demonstration skate.

Friday, February 23, 2018


As noted in the comments for yesterday's post, the Rideau Canal is now closed for the skating season, though I will have more shots from here before I'm done with the Winterlude series. I left off yesterday with a view at two bridges along the skateway. Turning around, this was the view in the opposite direction. The Canal is in the first part of a final curve at this place. Up ahead is the University of Ottawa; some of its buildings feature in the second shot.

On the other side of the curve, we get a view looking down the last stretch of the Canal. The bridge you see here was opened in 2006, linking the university's campus on the right with the downtown core on the left. It is the Corktown Bridge, a gracefully designed pedestrian bridge that sees a good deal of use each day. The name is a nod to the many Irish immigrants and their families, who came to work on building the Rideau Canal nearly two hundred years ago, and built a life here afterwards.

Here we have a view looking south from on the bridge itself. This bridge has become infested with those obnoxious, pointless, irritating love locks. 

This is the view looking north. In the mist and snow, the Laurier Avenue Bridge can be made out, as well as the ghostly outline of the Chateau Laurier.