One of the most memorable spots I visited this summer was Gatineau on a media trip with fellow travel writers. This year Gatineau in the Outaouais Region had some remarkable reasons to visit. MosaiCanada 150 and the brand new Canadian History Hall exhibit were the most powerfully charged of all the experiences I had this summer travel season. In fact, it’s hard not to be moved seeing Canada’s history on display.
Summer is short in Canada and this year it seemed to vanish quickly, with the strange cool and rainy weather we had in much of southern Ontario. Quebec had some of that too. But the week we visited Gatineau and Outaouais, as well as Tremblant, and Bluesfest, we had a few sunny warm days. MosaiCanada 150, a horticultural display of all the provinces and territories involving hundred of gardeners and artists, was a real highlight. MosaiCanada 150 is on until October 15. Take a weekend and go explore now before it is gone.
MosaiCanada 150 is a horticultural celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. It features ten provinces and three territories. There are 33 captivating and memorable displays that each tell a story. More importantly MosaiCanada 150 is free and very family friendly. Open daily. If you want to have a guided tour you can pay $10. In my opinion the guided tour is definitely worthwhile.
This display combines art with culture and is really something spectacular. All will be dismantled after October 15th. These Mosaic horticultural celebrations pop up all over the world but the only consistent one is Mother Nature shown here.
Perhaps one of my favourites was this Ontario display which illustrated an abstract kind of Niagara Falls concept. If the Falls were people they might look like this.
For weeks in the spring, Horticultural artists and sculptors worked in Jacques-Cartier Park to build this magnificent tribute. Jacques-Cartier Park is easily accessible and the entire display spans about 1 km. Take your time. This gorgeous exhibit is very family friendly. The pathway through the park is stroller and walker accessible.
There are even a few international displays including this stunning Chinese one.
After leaving Spa Scandinave and Tremblant, we arrived in Aylmer, Quebec. There we stayed at the newly renovated and historical The British. The original British Hotel founded in 1834 fell into disrepair. But, four years ago an area business person fell for the beautiful bones of the space. The restoration process was painstaking but the results are impressive. This is a unique destination boutique hotel and an amazing spot to host a wedding too. Rooms are varied in size and price.
After breakfast that first morning back in Outaouais Region we headed to the Canadian Museum of History’s brand new 40,000 square foot gallery. The Canadian History Hall is nothing short of remarkable. The signature gallery traces Canada’s history from the start to the present. It is the largest and most ambitious exhibit ever undertaken by the museum.
The attention to detail is noticeable even from the entry point called The Passageway, which is reflective. So as visitors enter the hallway into the Canadian History Hall they literally and metaphorically see themselves reflected in history. It’s poetic.
The Canadian History Hall traces Canada’s history over 15,000 years. These are stories of real people. Those are perhaps the most compelling of all. There are 15,000 artifacts on display here ranging from the handcuffs that were worn to the gallows by Louis Riel to a T-shirt worn by Terry Fox during his Marathon of Hope.
I didn’t expect this exhibit to grab me immediately and have such a dramatic impact. Authentic artifacts and stories are explored through several different viewpoints and lenses. Our history with internment camps during World War II and residential schools is also dealt with sensitively. This is the history that has shaped our nation, shaped by conflict, struggle, loss and success. Impossible not to learn something new here.
Ending with the story of Syrian Refugees, this history is incredibly up to date and emotional. Development of the hall took five years. The Canadian Museum of History welcomes over 1.2 million visitors a year. On the banks of the Ottawa River, it is a national treasure.
The streets of Gatineau are pedestrian friendly and of course there are many wonderful parks to visit in Outaouais Region as well. This is one of my favourite family friendly spots we have ever visited. This year, more than ever, Gatineau shines for visitors. Take the time to explore.
I was a guest while staying in Quebec this summer. As such, I received accommodations, transportation and other perks while there. My opinion is all my own and it is also truthful.