As the seat of Canada’s national government, Ottawa boasts a signature set of attractions and experiences for school groups. Many itineraries include Parliament Hill and museums housing some of the country’s most prized artifacts and valuable collections.
But according to Kelly Dean of Ottawa Tourism, groups can also head beyond the city’s history-rich downtown area to visit Omega Park. “If you want to get up close to real Canadian wildlife, there’s no better place to go than Omega Park,” she says.
Located east of Ottawa in Montebello, Québec, the 2,200-acre nature reserve is home to elk, bison, caribou and four types of wolves, as well as many farm animals. A popular way to see more of the park is on one of the open-sided bus tours. Students are encouraged to pick up carrots at the visitor center and feed them to the animals at certain points during the ride.
There are a number of other ways for travelers to get close to the animals, such as birds of prey demonstrations and daily wolf programs. Hikes along the Colonization Trail and the First Nations Trail also take them to additional wildlife habitats.
Omega Park complements the animal viewing with areas and exhibits that focus on Canadian history. At the Trading Post, costumed re-enactors share stories of the area’s fur-trading heyday. Visitors can see fox, raccoon and otter pelts that would have been exchanged between Canada’s Voyageur settlers and First Nations tribesmen.
Groups also can preorder carryout box lunches from the on-site restaurant. Guides offer suggestions for spots where the group can go to enjoy a picnic and be near deer, elk or other wildlife.
For more information, email Dean or go to ottawatourism.ca.
Top photo by CC Flickr/Martin Cathrae: bit.ly/2GRbov