For some reason, it is intensely satisfying to live in a way that satisfies these two conditions:
- Being able to walk from your home into a wooded area where you have some hope of going a week without seeing anyone else.
- Having the gear and experience required to actually do so.
Vancouver easily matches the first criterion. Crossing the first row of North Shore mountains lets you into an area of proper wilderness. Oxford does relatively poorly on the first criterion, though there is still an appreciable amount of wild space about, especially given the high population density of the UK.
Ottawa, I know less about. My experience with outdoor clubs here have been disappointing so far, and personal expeditions have largely been confined to cycling. Hopefully, this summer will involve some camping and exploration in Gatineau Park, if not father afield.