Winter activities in Ottawa this year

By Charlie Senack

Are you feeling the winter blues and looking to make the most out of an Ottawa winter? Here is a list of activities Westboro and Wellington West residents can take part in throughout the city over the next couple of months.

The Kichi Sibi Winter Trail

The Kichi Sibi Winter Trail (formally known as the SJAM winter trail) is a popular destination for hikers, cross country skiers, and snowshoers. The 16-kilometer trail runs along the Ottawa River and is groomed from Dominion Station in Westboro to the Canadian War Museum near Mill St. Brew Pub. 

While you’re there, take a look for Maggie Glossop’s snow bears that line the trail after a good snowfall!

Three skiers are seen close up along the SJAM trail on a sunny day surrounded by trees
A group of skiiers make their way along the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail. File Photo by Ellen Bond.

The Rideau Canal Skateway

While not in Kitchissippi, the Rideau Canal Skateway is always a popular winter 

hotspot for residents and tourists alike. 

The National Capital Commission, who operates the 7.8 kilometre UNESCO World Heritage site, is hopeful for a longer season after the canal did not open last year for the first time in history. 

Winterlude is scheduled to take place from Feb. 2. to Feb. 19 weather permitting.  Activities will primarily take place on the canal, at Lansdowne, on Sparks Street, at Parliament Hill, and Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau. For a full list of activities visit 

Outdoor rinks in Ottawa

The Rideau Canal is not the only rink where you can lace up your skates. Kitchissippi is home to many outdoor skating rinks that can be found in local parks. 

Locally, ODRs can be found at Dovercourt in Westboro, at Fisher Park off Holland Ave, Laroche Park in Mechanicsville, Champlain Park near Tunney’s Pasture, Iona near Hampton Park, and McKellar Park off Wavell Avenue. 

On the outskirts of KT territory, outdoor ice surfaces can also be found at Plouffe Park in Little Italy, at Woodroffe Park off Lockhart Ave, Regina School in Lincoln Heights, and in Britannia Beach. A full list can be found on

Children lace up their skates at an outdoor rink. Apartments are seen in the distance.
Family and youth get ready to skate on an outdoor rink in McKellar Park. Photo by Charlie Senack.

Take a stroll through Westboro and Wellington West

On warmer winter days, go for a walk down Richmond Road or Wellington St. W. The two main streets are home to many small, locally-owned, family-run businesses. 

For Ottawa-made goods, visit Wellington West’s Maker House or Flamingo Boutique located across the street. In Westboro, Copper Alley gifts, Pure Kitchen, and Flowers Talk Tivoli are some great choices. 

If you have a sweet tooth and are looking to grab some desserts, check out Sharplfe Waffle in Mechanicville, Les Moulins La Fayetteville in Wellington West, or Westboro’s Cupcake Lounge.

And if you’re looking to cap off the day with a nice dinner out, Zak’s Diner in Westboro is always a favorite among families, or Gezellig for a fancy date night. Stofa in Wellington West and Anthony’s Pizza also promise not to disappoint. 

Enjoy local theater

If you want to sit back and relax in the comfort of indoor heating, The Great Canadian Theatre Company [GCTC] is putting on performances of The Waltz from Feb. 13 to 25. The 1990s sitcom is about two Filipino Canadian teenagers — strangers to each other — who have a shared story and spend one evening with a boom box under the Saskatchewan sky.

A few blocks away at the Gladstone Theatre, It had to be You will be performed from Feb. 7 to 17.

The exterior of the Gladstone theatre.
The Gladstone Theatre near Little Italy. File photo by Charlie Senack.

According to Gladstone’s website, it’s a “delightful comedy about Theda Blau, a failed actress, health food nut, and would-be playwright who wants to find love and success in New York.” 

Then from Feb. 28 to March 9, Steel Magnolias will take center stage. Listed as “cozy as cocoa with a shot of bourbon”, the play “follows the trials and tribulations of six fierce and fabulous women as they set the world to rights in their small-town bustling beauty salon.”

Swim at Dovercourt Recreation Centre

If you’re missing some of the activities of summer, the Dovercourt Recreation Centre can act as an indoor oasis for swimming and other leisurely sports. 

Winter programming has started at the community complex, and includes indoor swimming lessons, different kinds of fitness, sports, arts, pottery, and more. For more information visit

The pool in Dovercourt with a few people swimming in the background. A dark blue water slide is also in the distance.
The Dovercourt Recreation Centre pool is one of many ways Kitchissippi residents can stay fit during the winter. File Photo by Zenith Wolfe.

Cozy up with a book

Want to get lost in another world? The Carlingwood branch of the Ottawa Public Library is a must stop for any avid reader. With three floors, the West Ottawa Location has books for all skill sets and interests. 

You can also check out one of the many free Little Libraries which have been popping up through the Westboro, Wellington West, McKellar Park and Civic Hospital neighborhoods. Boxes can be found at St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, 295 Bayswater Ave, 50 Ladouceur St, and 272 Atlantis Ave among other locations. 

If you want to purchase books, visit Spaniel’s Tale in Wellington West or the newly-opened Westboro Books on Richmond Rd.

The inside of the Carlingwood Library. Photo by Charlie Senack.

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