Old Ottawa East: Off the beaten path of Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend

Nestled between the Rideau River and the Rideau Canal, Old Ottawa East is one of Ottawa’s hidden, central neighbourhoods. This little neighbourhood is a perfect place for runners to explore because of its beautiful pathways and because every year its neighbours come out to cheer on the IAAF Gold Label Ottawa 10K during Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.

“Residents look forward to the weekend for so many reasons,” says Phyllis Odenbach Sutton, president of the Old Ottawa East Community Association. “We have a chance to cheer on the participants, many of whom are our neighbours and friends, we get the opportunity to see world class runners up close, and we’re inspired to become more active ourselves.”

While many runners who are visiting Ottawa for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend will only skim the surface of this historic neighbourhood (the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon, the Half-Marathon, and the Ottawa 5K only enter the neighbourhood briefly near the very end of the course) it’s one area of the city that is worth exploring for its charm.

Just past Pretoria Bridge, visitors can wander down the recently revamped Main Street with designated bike lanes and larger sidewalks, take in Saint Paul University, one of the first academic institutions in the region, and spend a few hours delighting in the neighbourhood’s unique and well-loved shops.

Those looking for a tasty and nutritious pre- or post-race meal can stop in at The Green Door, Ottawa’s oldest vegetarian restaurant. Then, pop next door to 3 Trees to check out some handmade jewellery, decorations, and accents, or wander a few doors down to Café Qui Pense, a cozy and community-oriented coffee shop that is connected to Singing Pebble Books, a new and used book shop that specializes in spiritual, nutrition, and fiction alongside greeting cards and gifts.

With a full belly, Main Street is the perfect jumping off point for those who love to wander around the city’s green spaces. The Rideau Canal is only a hop, skip and a jump away and a longer walk or bike can be followed to the locks and over to the Arboretum, while a shorter route north offers a beautiful view of downtown Ottawa.

For those who prefer to get off the beaten path, it’s easy to get to the Rideau River from Clegg Street for a quiet and relaxed stroll along the National Capital Commission pathway that borders Overbrook, Vanier and Beechwood and ends at Sussex, where the river flows into the Ottawa River. Along the way take a moment to stop and read the interpretive signs that touch on the protected ecology of the River’s wildlife and the history of the Ottawa and the neighbourhood’s growth.

This also makes an awesome running route, as our neighbourhood runner Jesse Blondin suggested.

Like many of Ottawa’s neighbourhoods, the area was independent of the city when it was first established. Originally named the Village of Ottawa East, it became part of Ottawa in 1907. Though it is now in the city’s centre, the neighbourhood is a connector of neighbourhoods, bridging downtown and the Glebe with Ottawa’s more suburban and industrial neighbourhoods in the east and the south. This means it is as easily accessible by bus, car and bike.

One of the city’s hidden gems, for residents and runners who have been to Ottawa a few times Old Ottawa East offers something new and unique to explore—and it’s just off the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend course. For new visitors it offers a different flavour of the city, one that fully embraces what makes Ottawa so unique: its green-spaces.

Ready to explore Ottawa’s neighbourhoods? Register for the 2019 Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.