On what would have been a regular rushed Monday afternoon in downtown Ottawa, hundreds of families were making the most of a balmy winter day — without work.

 

If it wasn't for the Family Day long weekend, Toronto resident Jean Chan said she probably wouldn't have made the trip to the capital at all.

 

"We checked out the ice sculptures in (Confederation Park), saw some family friends and will probably do some shopping at the (Rideau Centre) before we head back," she said.

 

When she learned that the museums were all open Monday, she said the family might head there, too. "It's really nice to have the bonus day off."

 

Aneta Ristic and her husband, Dragan, had the day off, too, but only because they booked it off. Both federal government employees, the Ottawa couple decided to take the day off because their son's caregiver wasn't working.

"We were fortunate we could get the day," Ristic said. "But it looks like a lot of people have to go to work."

Orleans resident Kim Stewart got a rare weekday off from her job at a pharmacy to spend with her three children, but her husband wasn't as lucky.

Stewart brought Christian, 11, Jake, 7, and Nate, 1, to visit him at work downtown before heading to Parliament Hill for an afternoon of outdoor fun.

"This is a rare, rare luxury," said Stewart. "The kids are very excited about Family Day. It's not often we get the day during the week."

Weekends are hectic, and usually spent playing catch-up, she said.

Nancy Martin, who was downtown with her husband and their five children yesterday, said she was disappointed that there weren't more outdoor activities for children.

"I was expecting more families here," she said. "And I thought the city would have planned something."

Although it's nice to see families enjoying themselves, Family Day isn't inclusive enough, said Jen Barnwell, who didn't get the day off.

"I think most of the city is working, especially in a government town like this," she said.