We had two days in Ottawa. One was spent with Sam and a part of that we had to go exploring on our own. The other we pretty much had to ourselves. I went to law school at the University of Ottawa so we drove around my old campus where I recognized almost nothing. But then, what did I expect? That was fifty years ago! We drove out past my old home in Parkwood Hills, that had all changed, and in fact even driving around it was hard not to get lost. So many years had passed. The rest of thime we did pretty much “tourist” things.
We went first to the Byward Market again to have a good look around and to have fish tacos again at El Camino where we had lunch with Sam and Bianco the previous day. They were every bit as good on this second day as they were the first!
After lunch we walked up to Rideau Street, past the Chateau Laurier Hotel and the across the Rideau Canal and its locks down to the Ottawa River. I walked here dozens of times in the 1960’s and this part of Ottawa has not changed much. Different stores, new sidewalks and lamp posts, but the old historic buildings have not changed.
Across from the Rideau Locks is the Canadian War Memorial to our fallen heros and we stopped there to admire it. This too is unchanged. It is a beautiful spot and the bronze statuary is amazing. They have guards on duty by the Cenotaph and while we were there we got to witness the changing of that guard. Not so impressive as the guard at Buckingham Palace but impressive enough!
The National War Memorial set in Confederation Square was first dedicated to the dead of the First Great War in 1939 by King George VI. In 1982 it was rededicated to include the veterans of the Second World War and the Korean War and in 2014 were added the dead from the Second Boer War and Afganastan. Built of 503 tonnes of rose-grey granite from Quebec it is surmounted by 32 tonnes of bronz statues.
Walking past the War Memorial it is only a few hundred feet to Parliament Hill and the Canadian Parliament buildings. This is an impressive sight. The first time I was there was with my Mom and Dad when I was in high school. The next time I was there while in university to parade outside the American Embassy to protest what was happening in Selma, Alabama. That all seems like so long ago. Well, actually it was long ago!
We had not set out to tour the House of Commons but it turned out to be a highlight of our day in Ottawa. So much of our lives are affected by what goes on in this building that we should all visit it at least once.
The House of Commons
We walked around Parliament Hill and doing so we saw a sign advertising tours of the Commons Chamber which seemed like a great idea. After all, we were tourists.
We got in line for tickets but when the appointed time for the English tour came we were the only ones there. So we got an exclusive guided tour all by ourselves. The young lady who took us around was delightful and went out of her way to explain and show us everything.
She explained that the traditional Chamber is undergoing a major upgrade and what we got to see was the temporary Commons Chamber. It was actually and outdoor area that had been enclosed during the renovations.
There were paintings in the hallways of past prime ministers that were beautiful. The one of Sir John A. was especially magnificent. This was oil painting at its best. The picture of the two of use between the flags and paintings is the site of many new conferences. They set a lecturn just in front of where we are standing for the person being interviewed. Watch the news and you will see this location often.
Well, that was our day in Ottawa. We did spend some time in an amazing camera store on Bank Street but we took no pictures. The next day we headed South towards Kingston and left Sam and Ottawa behind.