Photo Diary: One of the World’s Coldest Capitals, Ottawa, on Christmas Eve 2015

By Abdulmalik Merchant

Ottawa Rideau Canal

No, not for moment – this is not our photo of the day, because this is how Ottawa would typically look like on a winter day, with people enjoying skating on the world famous Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Instead, residents took up jogging and cycling alongside the same canal, and they represent our photos of the day, see below. Photo: Ottawa Tourism.

Considered the 5th coldest capital city in the world, with winter temperatures dipping to -25°C and below, Ottawa’s honourable spot can be cast aside for a while with Canada’s capital seeing temperatures climbing to an amazing 16°C at 1:00 pm on December 24, 2015. The city’s residents were gasping in amazement, disbelief and wonder. I have lived here since 1983, and have never seen and experienced anything like this before – greenery everywhere!

Christmas Eve was a perfect day for golfing, playing baseball or enjoying a 20/20 game of cricket. If that didn’t happen, then the joggers and cyclists attired in shorts and shown in this post said it all – a true fairy tale, which, sadly (eh), may downgrade our status of being one of the world’s coldest capital cities.


A cyclist riding along the Colonel By Drive section of the Rideau Canal. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Olympus E-M10.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn earnest jogger along the Rideau Canal. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Olympus E-M10.

The jogger, shown in preceding photo, crosses path with another jogger on the Rideau Canal. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Olympus E-M10

Two joggers on the Queen Elizabeth side of the Rideau Canal. The steps are normally used by skaters to walk down onto the frozen Rideau Canal, which is billed as the world’s largest ice skating rink – about 7 km from Dows Lake to Downtown. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Olympus E-M10.

Walkers and joggers as well as a dog enjoying a warm and sunny day in Ottawa. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Olympus E-M10

 A Mazda MX-5 (Miata) cruises along Colonel By Drive on the Rideau Canal, with its convertible top out of sight. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Olympus E-M10.

 A couple walk on the Rideau Canal on the Colonel By Drive section. Photo Malik Merchant/Simerg. Olympus E-M10

Canoes in the shallow waters of the Rideau Canal. Post October, the canal is drained to make way for the canal to freeze during the winter months for skaters to enjoy the longest ice skating rink in the world (7 kms from Downtown to Dow’s Lake). See photo at top. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Iphone.

The 5 coldest capital cities in the world (source

  3. MINSK, BELARUS, -40;
  4. MOSCOW, RUSSIA, -39.4; and
  5. OTTAWA, CANADA, -37.

Date posted: December 25, 2015 (an earlier version of this piece appeared on our literary blog,


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