Storm Recovery

Six weeks later, there is still storm recovery activity ongoing in my neighbourhood. It is simply amazing, beyond words, how much damage the derecho caused in our region of Ontario. Everywhere you look there are uprooted or broken trees. A few days after the storm our two-year-old grandson walked through our neighorhood pointing out all the “broken trees.” After the first few, the novelty wore off. Obviously, he did not recognize the fact that this was not normal.

Hazeldean Woods, Post Storm

Hazeldean Woods is a portion of NCC (National Capital Commission) property we are fortunate to live near. We frequent this beautiful, wooded, parkland setting lots, especially with our grandchildren. On our first post-storm visit we were devastated by the damage; all four of the extensive trails were impassible….

Storm Recovery Efforts

We have been back there a few times since the storm. Each time we are able to navigate through more of the trails. Today’s trip was almost unrecognizable due to the recovery efforts, AKA lack of trees. I couldn’t stop snapping pictures, shocked at the changes. Although it is great the work is being done, (I did not expect it to happen this soon due to the low priority of the area) the changes made it almost surreal. The trails are now passable, but lots of work still needs to be done. Trees scheduled for future removal are all marked with a big red X. Others have been cut down, with logs neatly stacked.

Mother Nature’s Plan

When so many old trees are destroyed and removed, is this Mother Nature’s plan for renewal? The amount of sunlight currently pouring into my neighbourhood woodland trails makes me wonder if new trees will soon be growing in their ancestor’s former homes.

Winter Activities in Ottawa

winter activities

Although Ottawa can be miserably cold in the winter months, there are lots of winter activities to entice you out of hibernation during these months. Many of these fun winter activities depend on lots of snow and ice. Although I complain about the cold, I do appreciate the fact that it is necessary to create and maintain the conditions of the winter wonderland we live in here.

Skating on the Rideau Canal a Winter Favourite

Ottawa is home to the longest skating rink in the world. First created in 1970, the rink was the brainstorm of the National Capital Committee (NCC) chairman at the time. Dedicated NCC employees continue to maintain it annually.

Douglas Fullerton, NCC chair in 1970
Douglas Fullerton, NCC chair in 1970

The unique skating rink winds through the heart of the city, stretching for 7.8 kilometers or 4.5 miles of the Rideau Canal system. Opening day of the canal for skating has varied over the years from mid December to early February. This year, with the extended cold weather, the entire length of the canal skateway opened at once mid January. This is quite unusual as generally smaller stretches open as conditions change with the weather.

Ice Fishing on Ottawa River

This weekend we tried ice fishing for the first time. My eldest, almost five-year-old grandson has been bugging his parents to go, so his father (my middle son) purchased some equipment, and off they went. He researched a local ice fishing spot; Shirley’s Bay on the Ottawa River was the place to be. Grandma and Grandpa went as spectators to get our daily dose of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. What a gorgeous spot! Clear, azure blue skies and snow covered, wind-blown, frozen solid water for miles. Not that I’ve been to the moon, but trudging across the (relatively) flat surface that stretched for miles felt like walking on the moon. The horizon, dotted with buildings in the distance, as well as the sporadic huts and vehicles, brought us down to Earth.

The aforementioned NCC maintains numerous parks and related facilities throughout the Ottawa area. Cross country ski, snowmobile, snowshoe and hiking trails are plentiful and well groomed. Ski hills sporting fresh, powdered snow are just a short drive away within surrounding mountain ranges.

Without the cold weather and lots of snow, these wonderful winter activities would not be possible.

If you love winter sports, Ottawa is the place to be. Just dress warm!

Mud Lake: a Nature Lover’s Paradise

Recently I took my four year old grandson to Mud Lake, tucked in between the water filtration plant and Britannia beach in Ottawa. More of a (man made) wetland than a lake, Mud Lake is sure to delight nature lovers of any age. Also called the Britannia Conservation area, Mud Lake is maintained by the National Capital Commission (NCC)

Creatures in Their Natural Habitat

On our 3.5 km trek around the lake, we saw numerous friendly adult and baby ducks and geese, turtles, tiny frogs and tadpoles, huge bullfrogs, beaver dams (but no beavers) rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, chickadees and herons.

My grandson wanted to catch them all, but I convinced him to leave them there with their mommies and daddies.

Directions to Mud Lake

You can get there off Poulin, then Howe Street or by following Britannia Road to Cassels Street, next to the Britannia Yacht club. There are a few designated parking spots, but parking on either Howe Street on the south side or Cassels Road on the north side is easier and permitted. There are entrances to the trails around the perimeter of the lake from both sides.

NCC Rules

There are no dogs allowed and no bikes on the trails. These rules make sense as the area is supposed to be about conservation, namely the health and happiness of the wildlife that considers this area their home.

Although you are not supposed to feed the animals, the geese and ducks in particular were quite friendly, approaching us looking for food.

This aggressiveness is one reason you are not supposed to feed them. Creating dependence on humans for food is another reason to avoid feeding them our food. Ideally, they should be able to forage for any food they need to survive.

Respecting the natural beauty is an essential rule. No littering is obvious. Trails are well maintained and should be adhered to for protection of the fragile eco system.

When to Visit Mud Lake

Open year round, Mud Lake offers beauty, peacefulness and nature at its best throughout each season. Birds are predominant in the winter months, but the trails themselves are especially beautiful when snow covered.

Between Mud Lake and the yacht club, the elevated trails can be icy in the winter and spring though, so explore these carefully.

In the spring, migratory birds are abundant, in fact the area is know to bird watchers and photographers. The latest report shows 269 bird species!

In the summer months the wetlands come to life, full of all sorts of creatures. The trails are wide and easily manageable, even for seniors or baby strollers.

Favourite Moment

After our hike around the lake, we were enjoying a snack when a snake-like formation of geese approached. Mom was in the lead with at least 18 babies following along. They waddled ashore right beside us, climbed the small embankment and disappeared across the road…