Making a Splash in Ottawa

Sometimes you just gotta do the tourist traps. They trap tourists for a reason – they’re usually pretty fun! This time around I took the kid on the famous LadyDive amphibus tour, a unique experience because the big red “bus” is actually a boat in disguise. That’s right, it drives right into the damn river and cruises around on the water before driving back on land! Very fun and a must if you’re in Ottawa with kids.

It’s a boat. It’s a bus. It’s a “butt” according to the kid! (get it? bus + boat = butt? kind of?)

LadyDive starts the tour from its kiosk on Eglin Street, a stone’s throw from the House of Parliament, and takes you around downtown Ottawa and across into Gatineau (the Quebec side). The tour takes one hour, which is just long enough for it to not feel too long. Roughly half of the tour is on land, and half is on the water. The guide was excellent and very funny, explaining all the important landmarks of the city, like the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the National Gallery. We also got to see where a lot of embassies are located before heading into Jacques Cartier Park where the bus then drives right into the water.

The view from the water was amazing – you could see the impressive architecture of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, the very first locks of the Rideau Canal with boats waiting to get carried up, and Parliament Hill. I quite envied the kayakers who were enjoying the view on this perfect hot summer day!

After the tour, we walked over to the canal to take a closer look at the boats coming up the locks. It really is quite incredible how they built this system, and that boat owners can just show up and hop their way up the locks to get to lakes further inland. It seems to take forever though for the locks to fill or empty in order to raise or lower the boats to the correct level. Might be why they all seemed to be jamming loud music, drinking champagne and dancing in bikinis, because you’ve got to entertain yourself while you wait for your turn to go!

Waiting patiently for the water to rise so they can go through the lock

All in all it was a great experience, and I highly recommend the LadyDive amphibus tour and spending some time exploring the locks nearby. And of course, the beautiful architecture of Parliament Hill never disappoints – I wish I had binoculars to look more closely at the details of the towers to see the gargoyles, lions, dragons and more. Gorgeous!

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