Updated July 2, 2020
While COVID-19 has drastically affected the tourism industry in Ottawa, the industry continues to show its resiliency through acts of “caremongering,” good faith, and by taking their experiences online. Examples include:
- Ottawa Tourism launched the #MyOttawa Pass, Ottawa’s very own local savings passport, complete with an impressive collection of more than 60 discounts and offers from businesses across the city. This FREE pass is available to all Ottawa locals until July 31, 2020. All you need to do is sign up and present your offer at any participating businesses to redeem and save.
- The ByWard Market Restaurants (a family of restaurants including Métropolitain Brasserie, The Grand Pizzeria, Zak's Cantina and Zak's Diner) partner with the Lowertown Community Resource Centre on the Pay it Forward initiative to contribute meals to homeless families.
- The Keep Ottawa Awesome initiative sees Ottawa Tourism members banding together to promote their services and generate income through the sale of gift certificates. Participating members include Haunted Walk, Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals, Brew Donkey, C’est Bon Cooking, Pirate Life, Escape Manor and À La Carte Shuttle & Tours.
- The City of Ottawa launched the campaign Buy Local, aimed at supporting local businesses by encouraging residents to buy items and gift cards online, ordering take-out, supporting social media activity, and more.
- Similarly, Together Apart has compiled a list of businesses still operating in some capacity (delivery, gift cards, etc.), searchable by Ottawa neighbourhood.
- Ottawa Markets has launched a new tool to allow online purchasing of farmers’ market goods with scheduled pick-up times from the ByWard Market and the Parkdale Market.
- Capital Taxi offers assistance with order pick-ups through their app, with drivers able to facilitate pick up and drop offs.
- Local sign company Miller McConnell Signs have pivoted their production to switch to making personal protective equipment.
- Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), like the Bank Street BIA, ByWard Market BIA, Chinatown BIA, Downtown Rideau BIA, Glebe BIA, Preston Street BIA, Sparks Street BIA, Vanier BIA, Wellington West BIA, and Westboro Village BIA, have special campaigns, new sites, and lists online of businesses in their neighbourhoods offering online shopping and food delivery/takeout.
- In an effort to provide residents the opportunity to get fresh air and exercise, the National Capital Commission opens the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway for non-vehicular public use between 8:00am and 4:00pm each Saturday and Sunday until Monday, September 7. Queen Elizabeth Drive is also closed to vehicles daily until Monday, September 7. Parking lots are also now open to allow for easier use of trails and increase access to the Greenbelt and Gatineau Park.
- In April, hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan made a donation to the Ottawa Food bank which garnered media attention and inspired others to follow suit. As a result, a campaign called A Better Tomorrow has emerged with clothing and lifestyle brand 36 Chambers, run by members of the music group, to raise funds for the Ottawa Food Bank, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and the Ottawa Mission Foundation. Items for sale include an Ottawa-branded Wu-Tang t-shirt, “Protect Ya Hands” hand sanitizer, and a “Saga Continues Bowl” at Pure Kitchen.
Festivals and Events
- Local tech company SportsStats offers a Physical Distancing 5K, inviting participants to register and run a course at its west-end headquarters anytime between now and September 2020.
- The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend has cancelled their annual event scheduled for May 23-24, 2020 and will be going virtual this year with a virtual race. Run Ottawa is working with Sportstats to create a shareable virtual finish line to allow participants to run or walk on their own between May 15 and September 7 while respecting and promoting all public health physical distancing guidelines.
- Capital Pride will move their annual celebration of the city’s 2SLGBTQ+ community online, August 21-30, 2020.
- The Canada Army Run cancelled its annual race but encourages participants to participate in the Canada Army Run: Virtual (September 12-20, 2020).
- The following festivals have been rescheduled for later dates: Escapade (September 5-6, 2020), the Franco-Ontarian Festival (September 24-26, 2020), Ottawa Poutinefest (October 29-November 1, 2020), and the inaugural CRAVE Food and Wine Festival (November 20-22, 2020).
- The National Arts Centre, Canada’s home for performing arts located in downtown Ottawa, brings the arts online in a new way with their #CanadaPerforms series, highlighting Canadian artists during livestream concerts offered most days.
- Ottawa Bluesfest and the National Arts Centre both offer summer drive in concerts. #CanadaPerforms at RBC Bluesfest Drive-In celebrates Canadian musicians beginning July 31 and August 1 on the Zibi site in Gatineau.
- Ottawa’s oldest tavern—the Château Lafayette—dates back to 1849 and normally offers some great live music options. On Facebook, catch Bluesman John Carroll Wednesdays starting at 9:00pm Eastern time and Lucky Ron continues his weekly-since-1986 Saturday afternoon country-tinged shows starting at 5:00pm Eastern time.
- Support Ontario artists by watching living room concerts at Music Together, presented by Ontario Live.
Restaurants, Food and Drink
- Grounded Kitchen & Coffeehouse has found a fun way to provide take-out to their customers by way of a pulley system, lowering food to customers from their main-level window.
- C’est Bon Cooking now offers virtual classes, either privately or in a group, focusing on various ingredients like seafood, poultry, vegetables, and more.
- Local honey farm Gees Bees offers a fun way to pick up prepaid purchases: customers drive through beehive stations (no bees are inside)! Check out their Facebook Live posts for kids too.
- Local breweries and distilleries stepped up to switch their production to hand sanitizer, including Big Rig Brewery, Cassel Brewery, North of 7 Distillery, Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Company in partnership with Dunrobin Distillery, and Dairy Distillery (who have introduced a program where each bottle purchased gives a bottle of hand sanitizer to those fighting COVID-19).
- Ottawa restaurant The Waverley started a worthwhile project called Operation Ramzieh, aimed at helping the community and feeding seniors in need.
- A number of Ottawa restaurants have joined an initiative called Love Local Delivery to help get their food to customers during COVID-19. Contactless delivery and over the phone payment are used to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
- Other restaurants providing innovative services for their customers include: Soca and Gooney’s, CRAFT Beer Market, Pure Kitchen, Beckta Dining + Wine, and OCCO Kitchen.
- Brew Donkey, a craft brewery tour company in Ottawa, launched a directory of local breweries with information about delivery and patio openings to help locals know how to enjoy craft beer from their favourite breweries.
- allsaints event space offers fun themed food boxes for delivery and pick-up with themes like Morning Buzz or Wine & Charcuterie.
- Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm now offers Picnics at the Farm every Saturday, which includes refreshments!
- Party bike Thursty Pedaler takes their experience online, facilitating fun games, trivia, and cocktail kits as a new way to hang out and connect.
- Saunders Farm now offers an Essentials Shop, complete with food boxes, gift cards… even daytime picnics and campfire nights where families or couples can enjoy a private campfire at Saunders Farm, complete with food and drink – and a staff member to get the fire ready for you!
- Local food initiative Just Food offers ways to garden during COVID-19 by offering online gardening workshops and providing access to the Ottawa Seed Library.
- The Royal Canadian Mint has created a special medal to pay tribute to essential workers in Canada, with proceeds going to the Breakfast Club of Canada’s COVID-19 Emergency Funding to address food insecurity.
- Check out Mayfair Virtual Cinema, offered by the iconic Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa! Online move rentals of eclectic, independent films are available from their website.
- The Gladstone Theatre in Ottawa offers its marquee for locals to display their messages for only $1 a letter.
- Local escape room company Escape Manor launched a new online escape experience called Taken: The Swiss Account for small groups to be played over online video conference software.
- The now iconic OTTAWA sign in the ByWard Market neighbourhood is lit up in rainbow lights as a sign of solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, the Kipnes Lantern at the National Arts Centre alternated between blue lights and rainbow animation to thank health care workers and as a sign of solidarity.
- Ottawa museums, hotels, and attractions like the Canadian Museum of Nature, Canadian Museum of History, Canadian War Museum, Canada Science and Technology Museum, National Gallery of Canada, and the Shaw Centre light up their buildings with blue lights to honour health care workers for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Delta Ottawa City Centre, Fairmont Château Laurier and the Hilton Lac-Leamy send messages of solidarity by illuminating windows of their hotels to create hearts.
- In March 2020, the Canadian Museum of Nature changed their signage for the earlier Me and my Microbes exhibition to promote handwashing, with help from the Ottawa Hospital.
- Ruckify and the United Way East Ontario have joined together in a relief initiative to provide technical equipment for social service providers (such as doctors and counselors) to help them continue to offer services during mandated closures and physical distancing.
- Ottawa-based Nesta Manufacturing has shifted focus to PPE, with a new brand NestaPPE which works to produce PPE for the general public and for organizations.
- Local company Big Time Murder Productions has switched from offering live performances to offer online, “Who-dunnit” style interactive murder investigation shows staged over Zoom at ZoomMystery.com.
- Parliament of Canada’s House of Commons to learn about Canada’s government while Centre Block undergoes several years of renovations;
- Rideau Hall, the official residence and workplace of the governor general of Canada;
- Take a video tour through the gardens and grounds of the National Gallery of Canada;
- Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History, to learn about Canadian history and experience from coast to coast to coast;
- Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum, the underground-bunker-turned-museum which was built to house senior members of government during the Cold War (be sure to check out their new Bunker Boutique!);
- Bytown Museum, which tells the history of Ottawa from rough and tumble lumber town to the country’s modern capital;
- The Canadian Museum of Nature released guided walkthrough tours on their YouTube channel to bring viewers to explore the museum, the Butterflies in Flight exhibition and permanent galleries;
- Take a virtual trip down the Rideau Canal with TVO’s program TRIPPING the Rideau Canal! This four hour, immersive “real-time” trip down the UNESCO World Heritage Site explores the beauty and history of the Rideau Canal as if you were sailing yourself;
- Just south of Ottawa, Watson’s Mill in Manotick brings visitors back to the 1860’s. Check out their virtual tour to learn about flour production and the start of the town.
- See important works and objects from AY Jackson’s career in the Firestone Collection at the Ottawa Art Gallery’s virtual 3D tour.
Online exhibitions and activities
- Canadian Museum of History: online exhibitions and “Museum at Home” activities and resources which includes the new Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour Collection;
- Canadian War Museum: online exhibitions and “Museum at Home” activities and resources;
- Ingenium museums(Canada Science and Technology Museum, Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum): Google Arts & Culture, apps and games, remote learning tools, and content on the Ingenium Channel;
- Virtual National Gallery of Canada brings all the gallery’s online exhibitions and activities together in one place, highlights various pieces from their collection, investigating the tradition of the salon, celebrating Canadian photography, and much more. Check out their exhibition playlist on YouTube for a closer look at current and past exhibits;
- Canadian Museum of Nature has fun games and lessons and colouring pages;
- Virtual Museum of Canada: Canada-wide collection of digital museum and heritage experiences;
- Check out the fun colouring pages and jigsaw puzzles offered by the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum;
- Learn about the Canadian economy with lesson plans, activities, and more from the Bank of Canada Museum;
- The Ottawa International Airport has fun, kid-friendly content available online including kid’s quizzes about airports and airplanes, videos, and more.
- CFL team the Ottawa REDBLACKS keep young fans happy with a kid’s activity pack including mazes, colouring pages, and more;
- The Isolation Museum is an interesting complement to Ottawa’s museum scene – it exists to foster contact and connection through the documentation of stories of real experiences during COVID-19;
- The Bytown Museum offers a digitized collection, Victorian crafts, and a series of videos on key parts of Ottawa’s history (video series available on their Instagram account).