Many in the Ottawa region know Montebello as an experience to see Canadian wildlife up close, where you can feed a variety of animals from your car window. It does offer this, of course, and my toddler adores that part of the experience, but the park offers so much more. It is a piece of living history, a chance to re-connect with nature, and a place to learn the stories of the aboriginal groups native to this land.
My family and I recently spent the most amazing winter’s day at Parc Omega. Our family has visited this unique attraction in Montebello, Quebec many times over the years and it’s one of our favourite in the region. I never thought to visit in the winter, but this may become our favourite time of the year to go. Here are my top 5 reasons to visit Parc Omega during the winter:
1. The authentic Sugar Shack, what a gem! Tucked up on a hill in the forest is a scene from a storybook. A little cabin with a stovepipe, where fresh maple sap from the surrounding trees is boiled down into syrup and heated on a wooden stove before being poured out onto fresh snow and rolled up on a stick: tire d’érable. It’s melt in your mouth delicious, the freshest I’ve ever tasted. The sticky sweet taste of maple, the smell of wood smoke, the sounds of a crackling fire, a little cabin by which to warm yourself; it’s a mutli-sensory experience not to be missed.
2. In a nod to the local maple production, the resident chef has created a maple-inspired menu in the restaurant, featuring seasonal items such as traditional pea soup, maple sausage and omelette, baked beans and a bacon and maple poutine! There is of course lighter fare such as fresh sandwiches and salads, with meals served quickly and priced reasonably.
3. Horse drawn sleigh rides are also included in the price of admission. The feeling of the wind on your face as you dash across the frozen fields, huddled up with your friends and family… a quintessential Canadian experience.
4. If you’d like to get your heart pumping and maybe burn off some of your poutine, bring along your snowshoes, or rent some at the park and enjoy the miles of beautiful trails.
5. The peace and tranquility found at the frozen trout pond, a quiet corner of the park that is the most serene place for a walk or quiet reflection. Aside from the natural beauty of the surroundings, you must see the incredible carvings of M. Denis Charrette. An impressive Thunder Bird greets you at the entrance to the lake, while eleven totem poles ring the lake, each representing one of the tribes of Quebec.
You will find dozens of other beautiful carvings around the property, each designed to blend with the natural surroundings, and hand-crafted by local artisans. You may even be lucky enough to catch artist M. Therrien at work with his chainsaws.
Ottawa winters are long! Our family enjoyed a full day of fun, fresh air, learning and quality time together at Parc Omega.
Another blog by Meagan of @thehottawa