One of Ottawa’s best kept secrets is that it’s in a prime location for paddle sports, including canoeing, kayaking, and stand up paddle (SUP) boarding.
Ottawa is a paddler’s heaven with its multiple rivers, streams, and bays that provide options for all levels. From flat water for beginners to class V rapids for the extreme paddlers, Ottawa has got many options - including a growing paddling culture.
There are plenty of resources in Ottawa for those who want to try out the various options or for those who want to develop their skills. There are also a number of places where you can try, rent, or buy the equipment you will need to get active in the water.
One of the most interesting but hidden spots is The Pumphouse facility located off Fleet Street, adjacent to the Garden of the Provinces and Territories. The Pumphouse offers class II rapids right in the middle of the city, and even has an area for beginners. Further west, one can spot other paddlers catching waves off Bate Island, located along the Champlain Bridge between Ottawa and Gatineau. Other honourable mentions include Westboro beach, Britannia beach, and Mooney’s Bay. If you simply want to rent a boat for the day, Dow’s lake has summer rentals for an affordable price.
Most of the stores that sell paddle accessories will allow you to demo or rent before you buy. If you are interested, you can check out MEC’s upcoming Paddlefest at Mooney’s Bay on Saturday, June 30. MEC’s Paddlefest is free, with the option of participating in a multitude of inexpensive clinics.
Trailhead is also an option for those who want to try paddling. They just opened a new demo center that operates most Saturday’s between 10am-3pm. It is located at 3119 Carp Road, in Ottawa’s west end.
Both of these stores are located in the Westboro community, which I featured as an excellent place to live not long ago on this blog.
If you aren’t quite ready to dive head first into paddling, you can support those who do while contributing to a good cause. From June 25-28, the Tim Hortons Dragon Boat Festival will take place at Mooney’s bay. According to their website, this event is recognized as North America's largest dragon boating festival, and features concerts, amusement attractions, sports demonstrations, artisans, exhibitors, delicious culinary treats, a beach-side bar, a children’s area, and non-stop dragon boat racing. The goal of the festival is to help build, strengthen, and enhance community life in Ottawa by raising money for various charities.
Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about what fun activities are available in your community.