A dad’s guide to surviving the Civic Hospital


I recently spent five days living at the Civic Hospital with my wife & new baby daughter.

It was our second extended stay at the Civic in the past couple of years to take care of a new baby – and we were far more prepared the second time than the first. There is quite a bit of non-health related info that they don’t tell you about beforehand. Here are a few tips.


  • The “cheapest” parking is in the main parking garage or the big back parking lot off Ruskin Street.
  • “Cheapest” is a relative term. Parking costs $3.50 per half hour, up to a daily maximum of $13.00.
  • If you’re parking at the hospital for four days or more, buy a weekly pass at $42.25.
  • Or even better, for the best deal on parking, time your exit from the parking lots between 11pm and 7am. If you leave during these hours, all you pay is the overnight cash rate of $6, no matter how long you’ve been there for.
  • Don’t waste your time circling around the main parking garage – just head to the Ruskin lot. There were empty spaces whenever we tried to find one, and it’s a much quicker in-and-out trip.
  • All that being said, the money collected via parking goes back to patient care, so anything you spend is going to a good place.
  • More info about parking can be found here.


  • The Civic Hospital’s patient food is as bad as you would expect hospital food to be. (Maybe worse.)
  • The cafeteria food isn’t much better. Tickers, the caf at the Heart Institute, generally has somewhat healthier & appealing fare.
  • Tickers also features a Tim Hortons.
  • Bring lots of cash. No credit or debit at the cafeteria.
  • Avoid the hospital food altogether, and head to the neighbourhoods around the hospital.
  • Wellington Street / Hintonburg is about a 15 minute walk away. My wife sent me on a daily breakfast run to the Bagel Shop.
  • Preston Street is great for dinner. Most of the restaurants will do take-out. Our favourite was Pub Italia. Not within walking distance – but only 5 minutes by car.
  • There are also some food shops at Carling & Sherwood, a short walk east.


  • Don’t bother renting the phone in the hospital room — it’s a hefty $5/day charge.
  • In many cases, you can use your cell phone in the patient rooms. (Check with your nurse first.)
  • There are also free phones in various boardrooms, kitchens, etc. And pay phones all over the hospital.


  • You can pay for the tiny 5-inch tv in the patient rooms…
  • …or you can watch the widescreen tv in the family lounge, on the north side of the A wing (just past room 462).
  • The family lounge is awesome. Nice big comfy chairs, and a panoramic view facing north across the city. We could see the water fountain at Lac Leamy, and Gatineau’s downtown skyline.
  • Best of all, nobody else seemed to know about the family lounge, so we had it to ourselves most nights!

One final (but important) note: The team in the Mother Baby Unit – especially the nurses – were absolutely incredible during our stay.

Related: Ottawa Health Guide

Glen Gower

Glen is the owner and founder of OttawaStart.com. He lives in Stittsville, one of Ottawa's most exciting suburbs.


2 Responses

  1. danigirl says:

    Congrats on the new baby daughter! Good tips on the Civic, too. My first two were born there, and I’ve always been happy with the care if not the conveniences.

  2. G says:

    Thanks for the congrats, danigirl. <BR/><BR/>The title of this post – "surviving the Civic" is probably too strong… all the staff at the hospital was incredibly accomodating while we were there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay in the know!

Stay in the know!

Subscribe to the OttawaStart.com email digest for updates on local info & events. We promise to respect your time and your inbox!

You have successfully subscribed, thank you!