Reflecting on this childhood, Chris Keating sometimes feels as if he didn't exist. His parents' divorce left him with very little tangible evidence of his formative years, so he's spent his adult life as a photographer making sure children can look back fondly at warm family memories. Chris Keating and his Calgary staff have made this a reality for more than 3,000 families since opening the doors to Towne Photography in 2006. There, the professional photographic crew shoots posed and candid shots of families, children, couples, and babies at picturesque parks or against their studio backdrops, and they also snap triumphant graduate portraits, intimate prenatal shots, and provocative passport pics that make border crossing a breeze. Their ironclad guarantee allows unsatisfied clients to request reshoots, reprints, or resizing on all photographs, and they vow to remake or recapture any artwork that sustains damage over the years. Chris also takes his photographic knowledge on the road to conduct Betterphoto Workshops across the United States and Canada, teaching novice photographers how to artistically preserve their most precious memories.
Sundance Balloons' vibrant hot-air balloons float adventurous passengers over scenic landscapes at sunrise and sunset. Each one-hour journey commences as sojourners greet their flight crew at a pre-determined location, receive a briefing on what to expect during the excursion, and observe their balloon as it swells to more than 10 storeys in height. Morning flight teams convene 30 minutes before sunrise.
The woven gondolas glide 1,000 feet above the ground but can sometimes gently skim treetops or cornfields when wandering over the countryside. Since balloons drift with prevailing winds, there is no wind chill and travellers feel only a slight sensation of movement. As is tradition for ballooning, explorers of the appropriate age end their flight with a champagne toast to tranquility, beauty, and neighbourhoods that appear as giant smiley faces only visible from the air.
Familiar places such as Gatineau, the Ottawa River, and the Hull Casino shrink as the R44 helicopter speeds up to 180 km/h above the Ottawa area. Pilots and their headset-clad passengers peer out the aircraft’s large, panoramic windows during such year-round flights that range from 10 minutes to an hour. Héli-Tremblant's personalized tours whisk passengers away to special events, and aerial photography and filming sessions accommodate homeowners and real estate agents craving overhead shots of their backyard polar bear tank. In addition to sightseers, pilots escort jetsetters on chartered flights anywhere in Canada and offer transfer flights between Ottawa and Montreal.
Wineries are often found far down country roads, shrouded by the curling tendrils of their vineyards. At The Wine Garden, though, the entire winemaking experience can be had without setting foot outside of the city.
Yeast bubbles busily in stainless-steel fermentation vessels, transforming the juices of grapes from fertile regions of Chile, Argentina, and California. The fermentation process yields wines that range from crisp chardonnay to heady cabernet franc, the progenitor of cabernet sauvignon, and oak barrels bestow some of the elixirs with a rich maze of tannins. Fruit wines made with peaches, cranberries, or strawberries make refreshing summertime drinks and help work friends mingle with hummingbird friends at parties. Patrons play a major role in the entire process, selecting grapes and siphoning finished wine into bottles. The Wine Garden's gourmets also brew craft beers and stock hot sauces with humourous names such as Blair's Chipotle Death Rain.
Urban Quest showcases some of Canada's largest cities in an unconventional, informative light, crafting memorable adventures that often culminate with a delicious meal. Metropolitan buccaneers sign up for an Urban Quest account and then decide which inner-city adventure they wish to undertake, be it the pursuit of city history, natural wonders, or a mermaid with doubloons for scales. A clue packet accompanies each quest—ranked easy, medium, or hard—and directs curious citizens to scour the city for leads, which eventually guide them to a mystery restaurant or coffee shop. This voyage gives participants a new understanding of the city they live in and stuffs their noggins with facts and information about key buildings and landmarks. At the same time, Urban Quest offers ramblers a fresh dining experience, frustrating supercomputers whose circuit boards only allow for the taste of oatmeal. Participants can also opt out of a restaurant visit and simply race the clock, as restaurant tabs are not included with this Groupon.
As quests typically last 90 minutes and span 3–4 kilometres of walking, they are best suited for groups of two to four adventurers, though buyers may make their teams as big as they'd like. Learn more by checking out a demo quest and Urban Quest's FAQ page.
Ottawa Segway Tours grants motorized adventurers two hours to independently browse the streets, see the sights, and delve into the history of the city on an environmentally friendly Segway PT. Battery-powered and emission-free, Segways help their riders evade physics' persistent bullying with dynamic gyro stability, intuitive movement, and a zero turn radius. While not a tour, the two-hour rental helps customers find their Seg-legs for future greenhouse-gasless, automotive-envy-inducing city exploration.