Kelly-Anne Maddox takes her family to the National Gallery of Canada’s giftshop


Photo credit: The National Gallery of Canada

Kelly-Anne Maddox relocated to Ottawa from BC in 2010 and is busy being a mom to her one-year old daughter.

When I moved to Ottawa last fall I left behind a ridiculously well paying job to become a stay at home mom.

The shift from our former financial status to a single income household was a dramatic one and for the first time since grad school we had to pay close attention to our spending habits; no more spontaneously eating out because we felt like it, gone were full price movies and, with heavy hearts, we even agreed to sacrifice full cable. Reluctant to take such a dent in our lifestyle lying down, I decided to embrace our circumstances not as an exercise in frugality, but as an experiment in creativiy. I subscribed to Groupon, took up free activities like Strollercise, skating on the Canal, and my husband and Baby started going to free museums on Thursdays.

On a blustery Sunday afternoon during Winterlude my husband and I were delighted to read in the festival guide that entrance to the National Gallery of Canada was free that day. After packing up baby, diaper bag, stroller and schlepping the lot off to the gallery we were told at the ticket counter that we had read wrong (our bad!) and that regular entrance rates were indeed in effect. Doing a quick mental calculation of our budget I balked at dipping into our reserves and instead suggested that we entertain Baby in the gallery giftshop.

National Gallery of Canada

We spent an hour browsing through the store. Baby was captivated by the bold First Nations prints emblazoned on bright tea towels, gazed with rapt attention at the Totem Tree puzzle, squished Elmer the Patchwork Elephant in her little paws, squealed in delight at the board books, and had a blast as we flipped through the poster display. On the drive home I realized that our excursion to the giftshop had made a trip to the Gallery a tangible experience for my one year old; works that she normally couldn’t see up close or touch were transformed into an interactive adventure.

I did, however, draw the line when she decided to move from tangible to edible, making sure that no giftshop items were harmed in the researching of this post.

Thanks for the great post Kelly-Anne! Do you have a frugal adventure in Ottawa that you’d like to share? Send us a note or leave a comment below!