My introduction to nordic skiing came when I was almost 40 years old. I pictured myself peacefully shuffling through the woods on skis and never considered wearing lycra. I was not interested in ski racing and I knew that one pair of all-purpose classic skis was all I would ever need. Well! It didn’t quite turn out as expected.

I was soon lured away from Southern Ontario (where Winter is only 8 weeks long) to the National Capital Region, and found myself taking up running, swimming and cycling during the “off season”. I started to refer to exhausting hills by affectionate names such as “Penguin”.  I joined  Nakkertok Ski Club and discovered bizarre, “cult” activities such as ski-walking and roller skiing. From there I was encouraged to take coaching courses (CANSI and NCCP 2), and found myself leading jackrabbits, challenge programs for teens, dabbling in citizen ski racing, teaching for the city of Ottawa, assistant coaching for Nakkertok Masters and  (presently) coaching a women’s masters  training group.

 Gatineau Park  is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s easy to find idyllic Winter scenery and wildlife, but also very active ski clubs,  colourful local races and a myriad of fascinating characters on skis. Musicians have strange work hours and so I am free to indulge my addiction and to ski, to quote Jackrabbit Johannsen, almost “every day there is snow”. A small camera always tags along. The challenge is to get it out of the bag and fired up quickly enough to catch the action without freezing to death or sacrificing a good ski. During the “off season” the camera is let loose to capture literally anything in its path.  These photos might even be remotely related to skiing: the teams, outdoor exercise, birds, insects, wildlife, scenery and the passing of the seasons.

I hope the photos will give you a glimpse into the vibrant ski life in Ottawa-Gatineau. If you ski, run, hike, swim or cycle in Gatineau Park, check back now and then. You may see yourself!

Jo-Ann Holden




11 comments on “About”

  1. Hi Jo-Ann,

    Could you please update your link to the Friends of the Gatineau Park website to the following: http://friendsofgatineaupark.com.

    Thanks. …………. Julien

  2. We read your ski report everyday and find it very helpful. Please keep up the good work.

  3. I also find your ski reports helpful – and inspiring!
    Thank you 🙂

  4. Hi Jo-Ann,
    I am an amateur photographer, hiker, skier, snowshoer, with Ottawa’s Active Living Club (for seniors). I find that my good SLR camera is just too heavy to carry on the trails. I want to get a small but good quality camera. I notice how sharp your images are… Could you tell me what camera you use? You could email me.

    By the way, I love your site. Your images are beautiful! I use them to see what conditions are like in Gatineau Park, which I love. (I’m also a Friend of Gatineau Park.)

  5. I will send you an email!

  6. Hi JoAnne,
    How would one proceed if a not-for-profit organization wanted to use one of your photos to print, frame and present to someone as a gift? Would you be open to this? If so, you may have a place in Ottawa that does the photo printing that you are satisfied with? We would have it printed and framed and present to the individual in early May. Please let me know. Thank you.

  7. Send me an email ( you can find it in the “about” section) with a link to the photo you are interested in, and a few more details, such as your name. If it’s printable (some of the ski photos are only web worthy) I will send you a copy and you could make a donation to CPAWS or Doctors Without Borders.

  8. Hi jo
    We met in the park today and i am very intrigued by your group. Can you please provide more information on the program you offer.

    Many thanks

  9. Hi Jo-Ann,
    I’m retired, pretty fit and looking for women to ski with. Would you mind dropping me a line?

  10. Love your photos and commentary! You have greatly increased my desire to ski the Gatineau! Thanks!

  11. Jo-Ann, I’m trying to get in touch with you about ‘Cinq Gars’ and Ron L., but don’t have an email address that works. You probably don’t have my current address either!

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