The day before, I, along with family, flew to Montreal for a family reunion. Everyone would meet in Montreal and from there we would travel around Quebec, Ontario, and the Eastern USA. We flew out on a cloudy/rainy Vancouver afternoon and arrived in Montreal at about 2:30 am local time. That’s when we found out that we would be driving out with my dad’s younger brother’s family early at 6 am to Ottawa for Canada Day. The first thing that came to mind after was that I would definitely not be able to sleep a lot. I ended up sleeping for about 2 hours during the night and another hour on the way to Ottawa. When we arrived, we met up with one of our cousins who currently works in Ottawa. He’d been working there for the past few years, and so he showed us around the city. Our first destination was Parliament Hill.
Because of Canada Day, a giant stage had been set up for shows throughout the day. For Canada Day, many people came out wearing red shirts and so looking at the giant crowds of people, there was a sea of red. The streets were filled with people taking part in the day’s festivities. Street vendors sold Canada Day apparel such as mini flags to wave, vuvuzelas (I can’t believe people still buy these things), etc. When we arrived at Parliament Hill, a ceremonial presentation of the Changing of the Guard was happening. There was so many people that we couldn’t even get close. We could only see it on the big screen on the concert stage. From what I saw, it’s similar to the one that happens at Buckingham Palace in London. From the events schedule, it said that the Parliament Motorcade would be pulling in at around 12pm. It was still early at the time, so we continued walking around the city to see more of the sights.
National War Memorial
This memorial is dedicated to all Canadian dead of all wars. This memorial is located in Confederation Square, and commemorates the First and Second World Wars, as well as the Korean War. In front of it, is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There is also a Ceremonial Guard present at the site. On top of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, many people showed their respect by placing a mini Canadian paper flag over the tomb.
The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it connects Ottawa to Kingston. It’s been around since the early 19th century and people still use it today. Because of its antiquity, the mechanical system for opening each lock is purely manual. Students are hired during the summer to open and close them. Apparently, people use this enough to keep this place in operation.
As we were leaving Rideau Canal, we happened to see a parachute performance happening. Soldiers jumped out of a plane and performed tricks on their way down. I tried my best to take some pictures with my camera, but the zoom just wasn’t good enough.
As it got closer to 12pm, we went up to the main avenue in front of Parliament Hill to watch the Parliament Motorcade pass by. Many people were already there waiting for the same thing. Policemen stood along the side of the road making sure that nobody blocked the streets. The Prime Minister came in a motorcade of black cars, but the Governor General came in a horse-drawn carriage with the RCMP in traditional attire. And since I haven’t been keeping up with Canadian politics, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen the Governor General.
ByWard Market and Obama Cookies
ByWard Market is a farmer’s market that is located in Ottawa’s French and Irish communities. To show its Irishness, there are a lot of Irish pubs present in this district. On top of that there is a bakery called “Le Moulin De Provence”, that sells something called “Obama Cookies”. Apparently Barack Obama once stopped by this bakery to buy cookies for his daughter. And ever since then, there are posters of Obama everywhere in this bakery.
At this point, we were all tired from our lack of sleep the night before, so we decided to rest up a little bit at our cousin’s place. I got a nice two-hour nap. Felt pretty refreshed afterward.
Canada Day Concert
In the evening on the concert stage on Parliament Hill, there was a concert. We went there early to see if we could get some good seats, but then on a day like this, it was pretty difficult. We lay down our blanket on the grass and just talked until the concert started. We got a little more caught up among the cousins with what we were all doing (jobs, school, etc. – the usual stuff). Fishing live grenades from World War II was probably the most memorable thing.
Probably the most note-worthy part of this concert was the fact that Simple Plan played. I didn’t even know they’re Canadian. I’m not really a fan of Simple Plan, but it was still cool hearing a famous band play live. As the concert went on, I felt tired again and somehow fell asleep. I was so tired that I managed to sleep through the concert music. I didn’t think it was possible.
At the end of the concert, the fireworks started.
After the fireworks, the crowds left the premises in an orderly fashion. The parents went back to the hotel, while the younger kids stayed at our cousins house. The next day, we would tour the inside of the Parliament building.
Next Destination…The Canadian Parliament
- Ottawa Attractions: Sightseeing in Ottawa, Ontario (fairmont.com)
- Canada Day celebrations attract thousands to Parliament Hill but War of 1812 focus gets muted response (news.nationalpost.com)
- Canada Day in Ottawa (sparrowinthetreetop.wordpress.com)