Ottawa: A Tale of Two Seasons

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After years of traveling in all sorts of climates, I have come to a conclusion: the weather — whether hot, cold, or in-between — can have a huge impact on your impressions of a city or region.

On my first trip to Ottawa in January 2012, the weather was frigid and snowy. The city was covered in slush and ice and massive icicles. It was so cold that my nose and fingers would go numb after being outside for about 5 minutes.

Ottawa Winter
Brrr, look at that frozen river.

I still had a great time on my first trip to Canada's capital, don't get me wrong, but I left wondering what the city would look and feel like during the warmer months. I wondered what it would be like to explore while wearing less layers.

RELATED: The Best Things to Do in Ottawa in Winter

My question was answered last month when I returned to Ottawa for a second time. This time, it was balmy and green in Canada, and the city was filled with people — much different than the first time I visited.

In short, Ottawa had transformed.

Ottawa Spring

To illustrate this transformation, I thought I would do something fun and try to take some of the same photos in May that I had taken the year before in January. Here's the result:

The Rideau Canal

In the winter, the Rideau Canal freezes over and becomes one of the longest skating rinks in the world. In the spring, however, the canal is traversed by boats and the bike paths along its banks are always busy.

Ottawa Winter
Winter
Ottawa Spring
Spring
Ottawa Winter
Winter
Ottawa Spring
Spring

Parliament Hill

In the winter, the hill is usually snow-covered and sparsely populated with tourists. Once the weather gets nice, however, the green lawn becomes the perfect spot for a picnic or a game of frisbee.

Ottawa Winter
Winter
Ottawa Spring
Spring
Ottawa Winter
Winter
Ottawa Spring
Spring
Ottawa Winter
Winter
Ottawa Spring
Spring
Ottawa Winter
Winter
Ottawa Spring
Spring

National War Memorial

When I visited in the winter, the War Memorial was surrounded by twinkle lights and covered in a light dusting of snow. The trees sure look different in the spring!

Ottawa Winter
Winter
Ottawa Spring
Spring

Outside the National Gallery

What a difference snow and lack of green leaves makes!

Ottawa Winter
Winter
Ottawa Spring
Spring

Byward Market

In the winter, the neighborhood is slushy and rather quiet except on weekend nights. In the spring, though, the restaurants and markets spill out onto lively sidewalks.

Ottawa Winter
Winter
Ottawa Spring
Spring

And one more

Lastly, I didn't even mean to re-take this shot, but the fact that I did (while walking to Nepean Point behind the National Gallery) must mean it's a pretty good one!

Ottawa Winter
Winter
Ottawa Spring
Spring

It almost looks like a completely different city in the span of just one season, doesn't it?

Which season would YOU want to visit Ottawa during?

 

*Note: My most recent visit to Ottawa was sponsored by Ottawa Tourism and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. As always, though, all opinions are my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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32 Comments on “Ottawa: A Tale of Two Seasons

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  1. I love how you did this! I used to hate traveling in the winter but I’ve found winter travel more appealing and beautiful these days. Love the contrast in winter and spring scenes. Either way, Ottawa is beautiful.

      Thanks, Jeremy! This was a fun post to put together.

      I’m with you on winter travel – it’s definitely not all bad!

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