What to do in Ottawa this summer: Restaurants, festivals and galleries to visit in 2022

Originally from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Treaty 6 territory, visual artist Joi T. Arcand is now based in Ottawa. She plays with language, typography and symbols to tell stories and also has a line of accessories, called Mad Aunty, that does the same. When she is not creating, she is exploring.

Asinabka Film and Media Arts FestivalHandout

Celebrate Indigenous cinema at the Asinabka Festival

Held August 10-14 at multiple locations across the city, this Indigenous film festival, which features screenings by Indigenous filmmakers from around the world, also includes art exhibits and musical performances. “It always brings really exciting and new movies to Ottawa audiences, and they also have some really fun community events,” says Arcand. “They have outdoor screenings and lots of fun parties and gatherings.”

Enjoy outdoor art at the Saw Gallery

Arcand recommends this art gallery – and especially its courtyard, nicknamed Club Saw, as a fun place to spend a summer night. “They have a really exciting lineup. really cutting-edge art and events,” she says. “Whether it’s a concert or a movie, the outdoor-indoor aspect of Club Saw is so much fun.” The gallery also opened its Nordic Lab late last year, a space for artists from the Nordic countries, including northern Canada, to show their work. “They work with a lot of elite artists to connect the north and the south.”

Enjoy The Whalesbone

The Elgin Street location is Arcand’s favorite restaurant of this group of restaurants. “It’s a place that has become the place to go when there are all kinds of celebrations of life, whether it’s a birthday or just getting together with friends,” she says. “Getting a couple dozen oysters and a cocktail there has become an Ottawa staple for me.” Enjoy Ontario beef, Quebec lobster or Labrador scallops on the serene garden terrace.

Soak yourself in a scoop of Moo Shu ice cream

This little scoop shop works with local farmers, brewers, roasters and other food manufacturers to create inventive flavors, which Arcand attests to. “They have amazing flavors,” she says. Just a sampling of what might fill your cone: ginger and ground cherry, lime leaf and fresh mint, and Do You Bay Leaf in Magic – a mix of Concord grape ice cream and bay leaf ice cream. The menu is constantly updated with new creations, so you may be inclined to make several stops.

Moo Shu Ice CreamMoo Shu Ice Cream / Handout

Admire underground Indigenous art at the Central Art Garage

Located in Chinatown, this gallery is home to “really amazing contemporary Indigenous artists who live in Ottawa,” says Arcand. For many artists, this space has become a springboard to exhibit at much larger galleries, including the Art Gallery of Guelph and Thunder Bay Art Gallery, and national institutions such as the Crown-Indigenous Relations Building. Arcand is one of the artists featured in the gallery’s summer exhibition, Conveyance, which features seven female artists.

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