Get an extra dose of Canadian culture by visiting Ottawa’s ‘unofficial museums’

Ottawa Tourism is ‘Here to Inspire’ locals and tourists alike
Left image shows a large globe right image shows a man tasting a sweet treat
Editor's Note

This content is sponsored by Ottawa Tourism.

If you’re over having cabin fever, this summer in Ottawa you can do a lot more than just get out of the house. With what Ottawa Tourism has in store, get ready to be inspired!

Inspiration can come from different places, and for many in the capital that starts with the city's national museums — the history, the culture, the chance to wonder what Monet or some historical figure was thinking in the midst of their world.

But after all the ups and downs from the pandemic, Ottawa Tourism thought you might need a little extra. That’s why they’re offering up a second dose of culture and inspiration after your brick and mortar museum tour is finished.

Ottawa’s ‘unofficial museums’ are a collection of 76 local businesses that weave together the tapestry of Ottawa’s rich local culture. Whether you’re a foodie, a music lover, or just like meeting the locals when you travel, there’s something for everyone around every corner. 

 “We’re calling it a cultural refuel,” said Christine Rozak, Ottawa Tourism’s assistant director of marketing.

And no one is more excited about refuelling Ottawa’s visitors with culture than the museums themselves — official and unofficial.  “Ottawa is a museum town,” said John Swettenham, interim co-president & CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “There are seven national museums in the city that are so well-known they attract more visitors than Parliament.” 

Each museum is paired with an ‘unofficial’ museum to extend the guest experience beyond the building, and showcase the hidden – and not-so-hidden gems – Ottawa has to offer.

For the Canadian Museum of Nature, Gatineau Park (the Unofficial Museum of Reconnecting with Nature) and Interzip Rogers (The Unofficial Museum of Screaming) were a natural fit. “Our scientists have been very busy in research that helps to understand and preserve the Ottawa River,” said Swettenham. “Interzip Rogers connects visitors with a thrilling ‘flight’, right across the river.”

Maybe one of the more quintessentially Canadian unofficial museums is First Bite Treats, the Unofficial Museum of Croffles. Their business name was inspired by the moment Elias Ali and Abdallah Jama knew they had nailed their recipe for the Croffle - a cross between a waffle and a croissant.

These two engineers with a taste for tinkering had planned to open a donut shop, but a few delays led them to reflect more on the desserts they had sampled while traveling across Asia, and the Croffle was born. What could be more Canadian than a dessert that’s inspired by cultures from all over the world?  

“The Croffle is crispy on the outside and soft/flaky on the inside,” said Ali. ”Croffles are always made fresh to order and are best eaten right away.” (The Croffle guys are also fans of our national museums, with Ali preferring the Canadian Museum of Nature and Jama’s favourite being the Canadian Museum of History).

"This year we're working with small businesses, new businesses, and putting them on a national scale," said Courtney Merchand, assistant director of marketing at Ottawa Tourism. “The goal is to elevate Ottawa as a cultural hub.”

In the end, it’s all about bringing people together. “We're all craving that connection, that joy cultural activities give us,” said Rozak. “It transcends age, gender and language. It's universal.”

Don't miss out on this offer:

3rd night on us

When you book two nights in a local participating hotel, Ottawa Tourism will pick up the tab for the third. 

Book now

Turn your two-day trip into a bonafide long weekend, it’s on them!