A field guide to the Ottawa Valley: Part 2 – Seasonal Pastimes

Whatever season you decide to visit the area, you will find citizens of the Ottawa Valley enjoying a variety of activities. Here are some examples:


Once the leaves are off the trees, hunting season cannot be far behind. It is first heralded by the festive orange quilted vests and the matching flash of orange peeking out from under the flaps of the fall headgear. When the season is in mid-stride, the convoy of trucks with deer strapped to the roof is truly a sight to behold. Be aware, however, that hunting season in the Valley is the equivalent of Paris in August. It will be difficult to get a house framed or a gas tank filled as all of the locals will be away at hunting camp. Best to visit after the hunting licenses expire, when the cook is back at the diner and you may get invited to take part of the spoils.

The Snowmachine

There is only a brief lull after hunting season before it is time for the snowmachine to make its appearance. Once again, this activity is easily recognized by its apparel, which consists of a one-piece snow suit, heavy boots lined with felt, and goggles. Much like the hunting outfit, this ensemble is worn for the duration of the season, whether or not the snowmachine is currently in use. It is important to note that it is a unisex outfit, and that the silhouette makes it difficult to immediately discern the sex of the inhabitant. This could cause embarrassment if you accidently refer to a ‘young lad’ as a ‘young lady. As for the activity itself, it is suitable for all ages and abilities as it mainly consists of riding from one hut to another, where various refreshments are available help recoup the electrolytes lost by the exertion of the trip.


In May or June, after the snow melts, wedding season gets underway. You will rarely find weddings prior to these months, unless a Christening needs to be scheduled before summer. If you are lucky enough to get invited to a Valley wedding, don’t congratulate yourself until you determine which kind of invitation you have received. The church invitation is reserved for the closest family and friends, while the reception invitation is open to virtually anyone who cares to make their way to the Legion Hall. This may seem counter-intuitive, until you understand that all drinks are on your own tab, and no food is served until about midnight, at which point the Legion ladies trot out a tray of egg salad sandwiches and a plate of brownies. Another distinguishing characteristic of a Valley wedding is that the bride rarely needs to bother changing her last name since it is already the same as the groom’s.

The Chip Truck

The warmer months bring out the Chip Truck, usually located in the centre of town or on the highway (which in some cases is also the centre of town). True to its name, the Chip Truck sells only chips, although you can get all of the usual embellishments such as gravy, cheese curds, and vinegar. One may question the inclusion of the Chip Truck as a pastime, but only if you have never actually seen it in action. In fact, the Chip Truck is the hub of the town and no one wants to miss the gossip that is exchanged in the line-up (especially when there is a backlog in potato production). Also note that the Chip Truck may also be the best and most reliable source of sustenance as you make your way up the Valley.