If you’re done with cabin fever, this summer in Ottawa you can do so much more than just get out of the house. With what Ottawa Tourism has in store, prepare to be inspired!
Inspiration can come from many different places, and for many in the capital it starts with the city’s national museums – the history, the culture, the chance to wonder what Monet or a historical figure was thinking in the midst of their world.
But after all the ups and downs of the pandemic, Ottawa Tourism thought you might need a little extra. That’s why they offer a second dose of culture and inspiration after your visit to the brick and mortar museum is over.
Ottawa’s “unofficial museums” are a collection of 76 local businesses that together weave the tapestry of Ottawa’s rich local culture. Whether you’re a foodie, a music lover, or just like to meet the locals when you travel, there’s something for everyone around every corner.
“We call it cultural refueling,” said Christine Rozak, Ottawa Tourism’s assistant marketing manager.
And no one is more enthusiastic about bringing culture to Ottawa visitors than the museums themselves – official and unofficial. “Ottawa is a museum city,” said John Swettenham, Co-Chair and Interim CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “There are seven national museums in the city which are so well known that they attract more visitors than the Parliament.”
Each museum is paired with an “unofficial” museum to extend the visitor experience beyond the building and showcase the hidden – and not-so-hidden – gems that Ottawa has to offer.
For the Canadian Museum of Nature, Gatineau Park (the unofficial museum of reconnecting with nature) and Interzip Rogers (the unofficial Cree museum) were a natural choice. “Our scientists have been very busy with research that helps understand and preserve the Ottawa River,” Swettenham said. “Interzip Rogers connects visitors with an exciting ‘flight’, just across the river.”
Perhaps one of the most quintessentially Canadian unofficial museums is First Bite Treats, the unofficial museum in Croffles. Their company name was inspired by the moment Elias Ali and Abdallah Jama knew they had found their Croffle recipe – a cross between a waffle and a croissant.
These two do-it-yourself engineers had planned to open a donut shop, but a few delays caused them to think more about the desserts they had tasted on their travels through Asia, and Croffle was born. What could be more Canadian than a dessert inspired by cultures from around the world?
“Croffle is crispy on the outside and soft/flaky on the inside,” Ali said. “Croffles are always made fresh to order and best eaten right away.” (The Croffle guys are also fans of our national museums, Ali preferring the Canadian Museum of Nature and Jama’s favorite being the Canadian Museum of History).
“This year we’re working with small businesses, new businesses, and pitching them nationally,” said Courtney Merchand, Assistant Director of Marketing at Ottawa Tourism. “The goal is to make Ottawa a cultural centre.
Ultimately, it’s about bringing people together. “We all crave that connection, that joy that cultural activities give us,” Rozak said. “It transcends age, gender and language. It’s universal.