Category Archives: Parks

McLaurin Bay

by Annie

Last summer, the kids and I stopped briefly at the the playground at Parc Martin Larouche in Gatineau (rue Notre Dame at rue Joseph Roy). Julian was 5 and Emma was 2. We didn’t stay for very long because it really was a “big kids” park and Emma wasn’t able to climb up to go down the slides. We noticed that there was a nature trail starting at the playground, but there were too many mosquitoes to venture into the marshy woods at that time of year.

With all of the rain we’ve been getting lately, we were anxious to get out and enjoy the outdoors this weekend. Since Emma is a year older and the mosquito season is over, we thought it would be fun to check out this park and trail again. So we packed a picnic lunch and headed out.

When we arrived, the kids checked out the playground. There are large rock climbing walls that you have to scale to get to the top to access the big windy slides. There are also lots of things to hang from (like monkey bars) and balance on, making it a great park for kids to test their abilities. There are a few swings too (two baby swings, two regular swings), but the highlight really is the play structure.

Once the kids had played for a while, we decided to check out the trail. The trail is 1.6km one-way or 3.2km round trip. It starts from the playground and goes through the woods and across wetlands of McLaurin Bay (Baie McLaurin) before coming out at the Ottawa River. At the start of the trail, there is a sign indicating the number of different species of flora and fauna that can be found along the trail. There are hundreds of different species of birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, insects and plants. As I read off the statistics to the kids, they became a little bit anxious that we might run into lots of scary animals along the trail.

The first part of the trail winds through the woods and the colours were brilliant. The next segment is a bridge across the marsh at the edge of McLaurin Bay. The bridge is a series of floating docks with railings held together by a cable, so the bridge moves up and down in the water as you step from one piece of the bridge onto the next. The next part of the trail goes by several lookouts. One of them is a deck overlooking an area populated by beavers (no lodges/dams to be seen today) and the other is a tower with a view of the whole bay. The final segment goes through the woods again and comes out between a few homes in a residential area by the Ottawa River.

I had briefly considered taking our picnic lunch with us on the trail and eating it when we got to the Ottawa River. I’m glad we didn’t though, because the end of the trail at the Ottawa River is all private property except for the very narrow exit of the trail onto the river-side road (Boul. Hurtubise), so there isn’t really anywhere to sit and have a picnic.

All along the trail there is signage indicating the types of birds, fish, trees, and other things that you can find in the nature reserve. The kids enjoyed looking at the pictures and also pointing out the things they spotted along the trail, including different types of squirrels, a dead mouse, a fuzzy caterpillar, interesting mushrooms growing in a tree and plenty of red “Canada” leaves.

Once we got back to the playground, we took out our picnic lunch and ate at one of the picnic tables right next to the play structure. The kids came and went from the table, taking a few bites and then heading off to go down the slide again, and then coming back for more.

The one downside, and perhaps the reason we didn’t stay any longer, is that there are no washrooms at the park. So when nature called, we went on our way…

Annie is an Ottawa-area mom of 2 kids. She blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.

My Kids Funky Closet
Sunday October 17th 10am- 3pm
The Glebe Community Center
175 Third Ave @ Lyon St in The Glebe


Filed under Activities for kids, Free, Out of town ideas, Outings, Parks

Adventures at Mud Lake

by Krista

I am a city girl that was raised with a cottage, so I appreciate the beauty of leaving the city and heading to the lake/woods. I have not been able to go to my family cottage that much this year, and have been really missing the peace and quiet that comes with being away from it all. It was only when I found myself at loose ends with my almost two-year-old this weekend that I remembered that there is a wonderful spot close by that brings me to the lake, without having to leave the city – MUD LAKE. Located in the Britannia Conservation Area, it is a small wooded lake surrounded by a hiking trail.

We parked on Cassels Street, where the opening to the path is pretty obvious when you are looking for it. Goose was pretty excited by the nature show that she was given, stepping out of the car to see some neat looking caterpillars, fuzzy and multicoloured, nothing like the boring brown and green ones we have at home. We headed down the path and checked out the first little lookout on the water’s edge. We had been there all of three seconds when a duck swam up and walked right up to where we were crouched.

Goose was beyond excited. After many squeals (which somehow did not scare the duck away) I managed to get her back on the path, where we wandered to the next little lookout and saw a couple more ducks and a chipmunk, also a hit. As we continued deeper into the woods, the path wound away from the water. I feared that this might be our undoing, as the lake was the big attraction, but nature won out. There were plenty of bugs, plants, neat looking trees, and birds to keep us both in awe.

After about ten more minutes of walking, we hit a fork in the path. After a little bit of indecision

we headed left and found ourselves on one of several wooden viewing platforms. We were lucky, as there was a Great Blue Heron in the water in front of us. We watched for about ten minutes. We got to see him catch a fish, which delighted Goose, who squealed and startled him.

After he flew away, we turned around and headed home, happy with all we had seen.

Throughout our walk we bumped into a fair number of people, mostly runners, birders or photographers, but it was not at all crowded, even though it was a weekend. A few of the more serious nature lovers were dislodged by the noisy toddler, but they were all good-natured about it. Before we set out I couldn’t recall if the trail was safe for toddlers or suitable for strollers. I decided to chance it and leave the stroller at home and am glad we walked. The trail is certainly suitable for strollers. It is crushed gravel, fairly well packed, and about three feet wide in most sections.

We were there for about one hour, but did not walk the entire trail. It is over 3KM long, too long for the little legs. A cautionary note – there are no fences on the trail, nor at any of the lookouts. I did not feel that it was dangerous, but you do have to keep a close eye on your little ones if they tend to be “adventurous” like mine.

Krista is married to Willy and mom to a 3 year old son, Woo, and 1.5 year old daughter Goose. You can find her at Life in the Hutch or on Twitter @kgraydonald


Filed under Activities for kids, Free, Outings, Parks

Splish Splash

by Erin

We just got a brand new splash pad in my neighbourhood!! It was added to an existing park with a play structure and swings.

Did you know that the City of Ottawa has almost 100 splash pads?

You can find a map of all the locations here.

Miss K has been a little…ummm…”weary” of the water this summer. I believe it might have something to do with an unfortunate incident during out spring visit to Newfoundland where Mommy sat her on a large rock on the beach as the tide was coming in. I did get some awesome photos until she realized that there was water pooling up around her and fell off said rock in an escape attempt. (Note: I was within arms reach, and the water was very calm and shallow. I am a good parent, I promise.)

I had hoped that by taking her to some of the Ottawa’s awesome splash pads I might get her reacquainted with the water and boost her confidence. Luckily, my plan worked.

If you haven’t already spent some of your summer hanging out at a Splash Pad, I highly recommend that you plan a visit or two before September comes. I have seen children of all ages, from babies to tweens, having a blast playing in the water. Even if you don’t currently have one in your neighbourhood, the is bound to be one within a short driving distance.

Don’t forget your sunscreen!

Erin is mom to 2 (almost 3) year old “Miss K” and 6 month old “Mister J”. You can read her blog at My Suburban Adventure


Filed under Free, Parks

Playgroups are for playing, and community

by Krista

We love mondays in our house. Mondays mean playgroup in the park day. Our park is Kingsmere park, in the neighbourhood of Glabar park.  It is one of the reasons why we bought our house, before we even had children.  It has all the bits you need – sand, a play structure, swings, a wading pool, lots of room to run around, big trees for shade, and benches for mom and dad when we get a minute to sit.  The community playgroup makes it all that much more perfect.

Most weeks we arrive at the park a little after 10:00 am.  There are a good number of wee ones and their moms or dads by that time, usually at the swings or in the sandy/playstructure area.  Most of the children in the group are under the age of four, but that changes in the summer and the older children come as well.  The parents tend to gather in little groups in the shade when not joining in the fun.  We talk over coffee about the week that has passed, the new things our little ones are up to, about the struggles we face, and life in general.  This was especially important when my little people were much younger and I NEEDED to talk to adults, about adult things.  Now I can offer that to the newest moms and dads in the group.

The older children tend to roam farther as the morning progresses, so the parents break up in small groups that follow. They don’t often follow their own children, just the children that seem to need help at the time.  It’s great that I can help out another parent and push their child on the swing, knowing that someone else pitches in with my children and plays with them on the slides.

Snack time is a free for all, with all the little monkeys dipping in to each other’s snacks.  I know that it is safe for my peanut allergic son, as there are several moms who have allergies in their own homes, and we all look out for each other.  My guys love it, as they often find the snacks of others to be tastier than their own.  Even if we offer the same!! As an added bonus, it teaches them to share, and they love to do it.

Playgroup is free, and open to anyone, not just those living in our neighbourhood.  We meet as early in the spring as weather permits, and keep going until the snow flies.  We have met a local gym in previous winters, but when that is not available, we try to meet at people’s houses. This isn’t as successful, and makes us appreciate the times in the park all that much more.  For more information, or to get added to the mailing list, see the Community Alliance’s website.

We are always sad when our friends start to drift home for lunch, but we know that we will see them the following monday, if not on one of our other visits to the park in the course of the week.

I think that the best part of the playgroup is that you get to know your neighbours, and build relationships in the community.  We are meeting the families that live in all corners of our community, regularly enough that we really know who they are. We are all building friendships that will hopefully last for a long time, as our children grow together.

Krista is married to Willy and mom to a 3 year old son, Woo, and 1.5 year old daughter Goose.  You can find her on twitter @kgraydonald


Filed under Free, Parks, Playgroups

Brewer Park

by Sara

Despite several nearby parks, we regularly make the trek from Orleans to Old Ottawa South to take the boys to Brewer Park.  Its located across the street from Carleton University, tucked away behind the City of Ottawa Brewer Complex.  There is a large parking lot off Bronson Avenue but you can also park on the many shaded side streets off Sunnyside Avenue, which are right beside the park.  If you use the parking lot, you need to walk across two soccer fields to access the park.

Brewer Park is divided into five areas:

1) A  fenced-in (but not impervious to adventurous toddlers) area with two play structures suitable for the littlest members of the family.  The fire truck play structure is a big hit with my two boys.

2) A play structure on rubber mats for preschool children

3) A multi-level splash pad (there is a large ramp and bridge to access the upper level and water slide)

4) A larger play structure for elementary aged children

5) A sandy area with wheel-chair accessible sand tables, activity walls, and swings.

There are also several shady spots to set-up blankets for snack time and picnics as well as one large covered picnic area in the middle of the park.  The only disadvantage is that the play structure for older children is separated from the rest of the park (by the splash pad), which makes it hard to supervisor children of different ages.  One last important detail: there are (clean) washroom’s located next to the toddler area.

What I love most about Brewer Park is the variety.  Both my boys have very different interests and Brewer is one of the few parks where they are easily occupied, entertained, and safe.  Their play structures have fewer death-defying drops and are generally safer for small kids, which is one of the drawbacks of our neighbourhood parks.  My 2-year-old can explore and climb without me hovering right behind him.  While my four-year old love splash pads, my 2-year old hates spraying water; however, at Brewer there is a splash pad and water slide, which means they’re both happy to play in the water.

Unlike a lot of parks in new suburban areas, the play structures at Brewer are protected by shade (depending on the time of day), which makes it a great place to visit on really hot and humid days.  It’s often busy because camps and daycare’s frequent the park so be prepared to keep a close eye on your kids, as its easy to lose them in the melee of swim-suited bodies running around.

Sara is mom to a 4-year-old firefighter and 2-year-old monkey.  You can find her at her blog, My Points of View


Filed under Free, Parks

Kids in the Capital weekly playdates

Thank you to everyone who filled out our recent survey (it’s not too late to give us your feedback if you haven’t done so yet!)

We asked about what kind of get togethers people were interested in and the most popular answers was for weekday playdates.
36 : 365

A few of us have been having informal twitter playdates on Tuesday mornings and we’d like to formalize them into official Kids in the Capital playdates. (more information to be added for times as we closer, but timing should remain relatively the same)

15 : 365 The wanderer

Here is the schedule for the rest of the summer.  No need to officially rsvp but we’d love to know if you plan to come so we can look for you! We hope to see you there!

Tuesday July 20 – Children’s Garden, 9:30 am – noon

Tuesday July 27 – Brewer Park, 9:30 – noon

Tuesday August 3 –Brantwood Park LOCATION CHANGE DUE TO RAIN! Museum of Nature at 9:30am

Tuesday August 10 – Strathcona Park

Tuesday August 17 – NEW LOCATION St.Luke’s Park at Elgin and Frank from 9:30 to noon

Tuesday August 24 – Andrew Hayden Park

Rain date locations : Mini Port at Place d’Orleans, Kid Kaf, Cosmic (kind of expensive, but fun, and more central?), any other ideas? We will update this page if we decide to have a rain date location.  Following us on twitter is also a great way to know what’s going on. @kidsinthecapital @capitalmom @glidinglara


Filed under Events, Free, Meetups, Parks

Playtime at the Park

by Brie

Last summer we stumbled upon the Centretown Community Health Centre’s (CCHC) free Summer Park program. I was very glad we did. And I am glad to say that they are back again this summer!

Mondays in the month of July and August will find the CCHC team out in force at two downtown Ottawa parks. With them comes craft supplies, sand toys, balls, bubbles and books. It is a great discovery if you are planning to be at the park anyway, but it is even worth going out of your way for. My one and a half-year old and three and a half-year old both had a great time exploring all the new treasures to play with, but I think this is particularly entertaining for older kids that are looking for something different to do.

The summer park programs rotates between St.Luke’s Park (Elgin and Gladstone) and Dundonald Park (Somerset and Lyon). More information is available here.

Brie is the mom of a 3.5 year old daughter “the girl” and eighteen month old son “the boy”. You can read her blog at Capital Mom.


Filed under Activities for kids, Free, Parks