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Bytown Museum

Feature: Ghost Town

From the kinda creepy to the downright scary, read on for some of the best ways to spend the spooky season in the capital.

Haunted Walks of Ottawa

Have you heard that the fifth floor of the Fairmont Château Laurier is supposedly haunted by a spooky spectre? Same with the old buildings on Ottawa City Hall grounds. Take a tour of O-Town’s darker side with Haunted Walks of Ottawa, and you’ll see local landmarks in a whole new light. Various tours run year-round, and Halloween season, which offers an array of extended (and even eerier) tours, runs from Oct. 12 to 31. Tickets are available at the kiosk at the corner of Sparks and Elgin Streets, and tours depart from the same spot.

For many, Halloween just isn’t Halloween without a trip to Saunders Farm, which holds its annual Haunting Season from Sept. 29 to Oct. 31 and offers families enough hair-raising entertainment to keep them blissfully spooked for days. Different activities run day and night and range from fun (giant jumping pillows, wagon rides, mazes) to frightening (the Barn of Terror, Stalkers Field, Haunted Hayride).  7893 Bleeks Rd., Munster, 613-838-5440, www.saundersfarm.com

The Ottawa Jail Hostel

Ghostly encounters abound at the HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel. The institution served as Carleton County Goal from 1862 to 1972, and soon after was turned into a youth hostel, which it remains today. Guests sleep in renovated prison cells or in the former offices of the prison staff. Many a haunting account has been told by guests of the hostel — over the years, travellers have told stories of ghostly apparitions appearing at the bottom of their beds, mysterious footsteps, and banging in the walls. Named one of the seven spookiest buildings in the world by Lonely Planet, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. (Plus, you can tell your friends you went to Ottawa and spent a night in the slammer.) 75 Nicholas St., 613-235-2595; 866-299-1478, www.hihostels.ca

On Oct. 20, the Bytown Museum presents Creepy, Crawly Bytown. Families can join the museum for an afternoon of Halloween fun, including a spooky scavenger hunt, creepy crafts and more. 1 Canal Lane, 613-234-4570, www.bytownmuseum.com

At the Canada Agriculture Museum’s Barnyard Halloween on Oct. 27 and 28, kids can scour the barn for goodies on a trick-or-treat scavenger and take part in a costume parade. Prince of Wales Dr., 613-991-3044 , www.agriculture.technomuses.ca

The Billings Estate National Historic Site

The Billings Estate National Historic Site offers a Cemetery Tour on Oct. 20 and 21, a Historic House Séance on Oct. 26 and 27 ($25), and a Ghost Hunt on Oct. 27 and 28 ($20). 2100 Cabot St., 613-247-4830, ottawa.ca

From Oct. 27 to 31, the Canadian Museum of Nature offers a Halloween scavenger hunt, where visitors can find surprises hidden in the exhibits. 240 McLeod St., 613-566-4700, www.nature.ca

Happy haunting!

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for August 3 to 6

Friday, August 3

The Rideau Canal

Happy birthday, Rideau Canal! The Ottawa landmark is turning 180 this year (and also celebrating the fifth anniversary of its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the city is celebrating with the Rideau Canal Festival. Join in on the free activities, including live bands, street performers, a parade of lights, fireworks, and the Festival Flotilla, where boats are decorated and paraded down the canal. Friday to Monday.

Centretown Movies hosts the annual outdoor film festival in Dundonald Park. Bring your blankets and anything you need to get comfy outside, and watch a great film on a screen under the stars. Friday is the classic film The Birdcage, featuring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams, and Saturday is Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

Head down to the Sparks Street Mall for the 21st Annual International Busker Festival. The fest features over 40 performances by entertainers from across Canada and all over the world; they will shock and amaze you. Bring a stash of toonies and loonies and give them up for your favourite performers. Thursday to Monday.

Saturday, August 4

Fireworks at the Casino du Lac-Leamy

The Casino du Lac-Leamy’s 17th edition of Sound of Light is an international pyromusical showcasing the talents of some of the best fireworks experts from around the world. Teams from four countries (plus the casino’s grand finale) display their skills, synchronized with an original soundtrack, over five nights of competition. Saturday features a team from France.


Hot Attraction: Evolution of Ottawa at the Bytown Museum

Bytown Musuem is an easy stop on a day of sightseeing.

Want to know how Ottawa ended up as the nation’s capital? Pop into the Bytown Museum to learn all about it. Located right beside Parliament Hill at the Rideau Canal locks, this museum can easily fit into a day of downtown sightseeing. View more than 7,000 artifacts, learn how Bytown formed – and later became Ottawa – and check out their newest exhibition, “Six Moments in the History of an Urban Forest,” which explores the role of trees in Ottawa’s history. Even locals will learn a thing or two about this city!