Congress Tours & Excursions*

*These are booked separately from conference registration, as outlined below.
Please check back often — new excursions will be added.




Queen’s University Biological Station Tour/Hike
Friday, July 6, 2011, 10:30 a.m.

Encompassing over 3000 hectares, the Queen’s University Biological Station is one of the premier university field stations in Canada. Research conducted at the station has resulted in over 800 journal articles and 200 student theses. The station lies on the Frontenac Arch, a southward extension of the ancient Cambrian rock of the Canadian Shield that links northern and southern ecosystems. Biodiversity housed there includes 32 species of amphibians and reptiles (e.g. yellow spotted salamanders, gray rat snakes, map turtles), at least 30 fish taxa, over 100 species of breeding birds (e.g. cerulean warblers, golden-winged warblers, red-shouldered hawks), 55 mammals species, and myriad flowering plants, lichens, fungi, and invertebrates.

We will depart from Ottawa at 10:30, arrive for lunch at QUBS at 12:00, go for a 2-3 hour nature hike, depart the Station by 15:30, and be back in Ottawa around 17:00. We can accommodate up to 24 people. Maximum cost is $30/person, but ultimately depends on number of registrants. Please email Dr. Gabriel Blouin-Demers or Dr. Stephen Lougheed to reserve a spot.




Canada through its art
Wednesday, July 11, 2012. 10:00 a.m. (meet at 9:45) 

“The only way to travel across Canada in one day is through the largest collection of Canadian art in the world.”

Come for a 1.5-2 hr tour of the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Canada. The tour will highlight how landscape painters have interpreted the country since European settlement (from Krieghoff, the Group of Seven, Carr, Colville to the contemporary). Meet your tour guide at 9:45 a.m. under “Maman” (the big spider) in front of the NGC, 380 Sussex Drive.

Price of admission: $7-$9, depending on final numbers.
Please contact Frances Pick to sign up before June 1 (




White water rafting on the Ottawa River
Wednesday July 11, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Enjoy an action-packed summer day on the beautiful Ottawa River, famous for its wilderness, historical significance, and high volume rapids. We will be rafting with Esprit, a world class outfitter.   

A shuttle bus will depart at 7:00 AM to bring participants to Esprit's base camp in Davidson, Quebec. Participants can be picked up from the Ottawa Marriott (100 Kent Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5R7) or the University of Ottawa Residences (90 University Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 1A2).  The shuttle will arrive back in Ottawa at 6:00 p.m.

Important Deadline:  Confirmation of interest and full-payment are required by Friday June 1st. Sign up early; space is limited.  A minimum of 20 participants is required.

What to bring: All safety equipment is included. Bring shoes or sandals (they will get wet!), a swimsuit and/or shorts, sunscreen, water bottle, towel, and a change of clothes.  

Cost:  $100 + taxes (includes a full day of rafting, lunch, internationally certified guides, a complimentary après rafting drink and round-trip shuttle bus). 

For more information and to register: 

  • Contact Rebecca Dalton ( to confirm your interest.
  • Visit and scroll down to click the shopping cart icon "book now"
  • Select ‘July 2012’, then ‘July 11, 2012: 08:30’ from the drop-down menu
  • Complete the registration form
  • enter "Yes" under "Would you like to be picked up from your hotel, hostel or B&B in Ottawa?" and provide pick-up address in the ‘Comments/questions?’ box (cost $25 CDN + tax)
  • enter OTTAWA (all caps) in the Promotion box to receive the discounted price ($75 CDN + tax)
  • Enter "Evolutionary Biology" in the ‘Comments/questions’ box.



The Canadian Museum of Nature Research Collections
With more than 10 million specimens gathered over more than 150 years and covering four billion years of Earth history, the Canadian Museum of Nature’s 24 major science collections represent Botany, Vertebrates, Invertebrates and the Earth Sciences. If you are interested in visiting the collections for research purposes, please contact Julian Starr.




Group Bicycle Rides
There’s no better way to enjoy Canada’s National Capitol Region than on a bicycle.  Join Jacob Pollack ( and others:

  • on Friday, July 6 for a short (6-10 km) ride to experience Ottawa’s waterfront and famous recreational pathways;
  • on Wednesday, July 11 for a more challenging (15-25 km) ride across the Ottawa river and into beautiful Gatineau Park;
  • or both!

We will adjust our route according to the desires of participants. If interested, simply show up at 9:45 a.m. at Rent-a-bike’s location at 2 Rideau St. (Rideau St. & Colonel By Dr. @ the Plaza Bridge, East Arch). Questions, contact Jacob Pollack; cell/mobile: 613-600-6546.




Natural history walk: Brittania Conservation Area, Ottawa
Date: Friday July 6
Time: 9:00-11:00 AM
Explore the natural history of an impressive urban natural area, right by the shore of a globally significant waterway (Ottawa River), just 15 km west of the conference centre. See wildlife (lots of herps and birds), species at risk, relict vegetation communities, wildlife corridors, rare habitats, native vs invasive vegetation conflicts, and recreation and ecological protection issues. The trail from the northwest corner of Mud Lake to southwest is about one km - from there you can continue around the lake or return the way you came. The trail is flat, easy to walk, with lots of photo-friendly areas.  For visitors who are wondering, you don’t need any bear spray.  Walk led by Daniel Brunton, a local naturalist, ecological consultant (Brunton Consulting), and Chair of the Publications Committee of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club ( publishing The Canadian Field-Naturalist (, sponsor of the 1st Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology.  To join the walk, show up at 9:00 AM (sharp!) at the northwest corner of the Mud Lake trail. Map and description of this walk is at:


Additional tours and ideas for self-organized excursions (check back often for updates):

  • Ottawa Bluesfest (July 4-15, 2012)
    A multi-staged, 12-day music showcase featuring some of the best talent on the planet, Bluesfest is one of the landmark events of the Ottawa summer and has been rates as one of the top-ten music festivals in the world (according to Billboard Magazine).
  • Rent (hire) a bicycle
    And take full advantage of Ottawa’s recreational pathways and attractions.  Rent-a-bike is conveniently located close to the conference venue (OCC) at the Plaza Bridge (Rideau Street at Colonel By Drive), or subscribe to Capital Bixi, a public bike system that is accessible 24/7!
  • Mill Street Brew Pub
    Join fellow conference goers for a fun night out at the Mill Street Brew Pub. Begin by taking a tour of the brewery. There are free public tours available daily at 5 pm and 5:30 pm. Each tour is on a first-come, first-served basis. Maximum capacity per tour is 15 people.
  • Hike in Gatineau Park
    Gatineau Park (363 km2) is a wild area containing hundreds of kilometers of hiking and cycling trails as well as an historic estate bequeathed by Canada’s 10th Prime Minister, W.L. Mackenzie King.  It is a 15-minute drive from Parliament Hill.
  • Kayak or raft on the Ottawa River with Wilderness Tours.  Book a “High Adventure” or “Gentle” rafting program to fit your own itinerary at reduced rates, and enjoy WT’s resort and Beach. A 10% discount is available to congress attendees via the link above.
  • Visit Mer Bleue Conservation Area
    A rare example of a sphagnum bog wetland ecosystem. “This 7,700-year-old bog provides habitat to many species of regionally rare and significant plants, birds and other wildlife. It also supports plants and wildlife populations that are typical of northern boreal bogs.”
  • Sightseeing on Paul’s Boat Lines
    A cruise in the Ottawa River and through the locks of the historic Rideau Canal is a great way to see Canada’s National Capital Region.

If participants wish to extend their visit, there are innumerable opportunities to explore some of Ontario’s vast wilderness by foot or canoe, or to visit its wine country, historic villages, or other attractions. Consult the Ontario Tourism site for more information.