Along the eastern coast of Canada, the three capitals of Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto becken gay and lesbian visitors. Unlike it’s two siblings, Ottawa’s charm and lure lies in it’s masterfully executed duality of being a small big city: blending both the allure of small town charm with the amenities, attractions and offerings of a major metropolis. On the one hand, Ottawa has charming streets along the canal, quaint cafes and restaurants, even down-to-earth gay bars. On the other, the city offers spectacular museums, amazing architecture, and world-class entertainment.
- Gay Pride & Events
Capital Pride, the capital city’s annual gay and lesbian pride event, is held mid August. One of the nation’s oldest pride celebrations, it has grown from its humble beginnings over twenty years ago to a weeklong series of festivities.
- Clubs, Bars and Nightlife
Canada’s capital city exudes a quaint small town charm in it’s gay nightlife. You’re likely to feel like you walked into a neighborhood bar rather than a major metropolitan city when exploring. Don’t let that fool you, as Ottawa has a vibrant gay and lesbian community, great wealth of arts, events, and crawls.
For the boys, Centretown Pub dubs itself as the “Only True Men’s Bar”, with three floors and three venues in one: CP, Cellblock, and Silhouette. I must confess that on the one night I visited, it felt more like a neighborhood soap-opera unfolding before my eyes, complete with drama and dish. All of this adds to the unique feel of Ottawa’s gay nightlife. A visit to The Lookout Bar offers a bustling venue in the hub of the Byward Market’s action.
- Additional Nightlife Options
Hump @ Mercury Lounge (Wed only, 56 Byward Market Sq).
Edge Club and Lounge (212 Sparks St)
Steamworks for Men (www.steamworksformen.ca 487 Lewis St)
- Sights, Sounds, and Attractions
Without hesitation, Ottawa has one of the most amazing collections of museums and galleries befitting a nation’s capital. The crown jewel, the National Gallery of Canada, houses superlative permanent collections and hosts exhibitions in a contemporary setting of massive spaces and modern grandeur. Even non-history buffs will enjoy the somber and well-curated Canadian War Museum’s collection of military artifacts and paraphernalia. A stroll around parliament hill covers the Library of Parliament, Supreme Court, and Bytown Museum and nearby Rideau Canal, a UNESCO world heritage site.
If you desire a great way to spend the morning or afternoon enjoying the outdoors, walk through the Byward Market. This kaleidoscope of shops, eateries and stalls traces its history for almost two centuries to the founding of Ottawa. Nearby, Kinki Restaurant offers pan Asian cuisine artfully crafted, and transforms at night to a very hip and happening venue.
- Additional Attraction Options
Even for non-collectors, the currency museum of the Bank of Canada is fascinating. This small but well-curated museum features a historical record of all money, currency and it’s evolution worldwide over time. Of course, a large focus is on Canadian currency and history, however visitors from all nations, and of all ages, will enjoy the extensive collections and innovative displays. If you catch the museum in the morning, conside ra Rideau Canal tour on Paul’s Boat Lines after lunch for a change of scenery. The boats cruise leisurely by famous building and attractions, not to mention the most lavish of homes. In the evening, go for a walk, a haunted walk, with Ottawa Walking Tours. Led by a guide ominously garbed in black, this whimsical tour aims to frighten and educate with macabre stories and campfire tales, but thankfully without any parlor tricks.
- Accommodations and Logistics
With so many hotel options to choose from in this gay capital, it’s hard to focus on just a few. ARC the.Hotel is a luxurious yet unpretentious boutique and gay friendly property. This tag-approved hotel belongs to Preferred hotels and resorts. Rooms are modern and trendy, with exquisite on-site dining and beverage concoctions in an intimate setting, centrally located to all attractions. Also centrally located, and just behind the Centretown Pub complex of bars, is the Bostonian Executive Suites , with its massively spacious rooms furnished in a casual contemporary style.
If You Go:
ARC the.Hotel (www.arcthehotel.com)
Bostonian Executive Suites (www.thebostonian.ca)
Bytown Museum (www.bytownmuseum.com)
Byward Market (www.byward-market.com)
Canadian War Museum (www.warmuseum.ca)
Capital Pride (www.capitalpride.ca)
Centretown Pub (www.centretown-pub.com)
Currency museum of the Bank of Canada (www.currencymuseum.ca)
Fairmont Chateau Laurier (www.fairmont.com)
International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association IGLTA (www.iglta.org)
Kinki Restaurant (www.kinki.ca)
The Lookout Bar (www.thelookoutbar.com)
National Gallery of Canada (www.gallery.ca)
Novotel Ottawa (www.novotel.com)
Ottawa Rickshaws (www.rickshaws.ca)
Ottawa Walking Tours, Haunted Walk (www.hauntedwalk.com)
Parliament Hill (www.parl.gc.ca)
Paul’s Boat Lines, Rideau Canal tours (www.paulsboatcruises.com)