On our road trip to Ottawa last weekend I had two things I really wanted to do
Skate on the Rideau Canal – The world’s longest skating rink (see the previous blog post)
Take a selfie with Justin Trudeau
Despite the extremely cold weather we experienced, I managed to do the first relatively easily. The second one …. I had a plan.
Ottawa for those that don’t know is the Capital of Canada. Just like Canberra in Australia, it is the home of all things Parliament.
Canberra is a planned city and was selected as Australia’s capital and home of parliament as a compromise because it is half way between Australia’s two largest and rival cities, Sydney and Melbourne.
In 1857, Ottawa was selected as the capital of Canada for similar reasons due to its location, approx midway between larger cities Toronto (further south in the same province of Ontario) and Montreal and Quebec City (in the province of Quebec). It was also thought that being further inland from the American border and located on a cliff it would be easier to defend from any attacks from it’s southern neighbour.
Just like Canberra is not the largest city in Australia, Ottawa is the fourth largest city in Canada.
That is where the similarities end. Canberra is a planned city and personally, I think a little sterile, Ottawa, on the other hand, is far from sterile and is a really pretty city.
It is located on the Ottawa river and sits on the border of two provinces, Ontario and Quebec.
The UNESCO World heritage listed Rideau Canal runs through it, (see the previous blog post for pictures) the city is rich in history, culture and amazing architecture.
It is also home to many museums, galleries and memorials.
First stop in my search for Justin? Why his place of work of course!
Parliament Hill, the home of the Parliament of Canada.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get many snaps of the beautiful stone buildings on Parliament Hill because my phone kept turning itself off due to this!
Tours are available of Parliament Hill they are free and the hours vary depending on the day and I’m guessing what is going on when Parliament is in session etc. They are available in English or French and you need to go to the visitor centre across the road from Parliament Hill to get a ticket for a tour. They are issued on a first come, first served basis and can’t be pre-reserved. We visited over a busy Family Day Long Weekend and found the tickets for all of the day’s tours went quickly and missed out on tickets the first day we arrived. We ended up going back to the Visitor Centre the next morning just after opening and got tickets for lunch time that day, within an hour I suspect the allocated tickets for the day would have been issued so it’s best to get in early for tickets.
I really enjoyed the tour and so did both The Canadian and 8-year-old. The tour guide kept it interesting and moving along and it went for about 40 minutes.
The inside of the Parliament building is grand and ornate. The tour included the senate, house of commons and my favourite room in the tour, The Library of Parliament. It survived the great fire of 1916 and the detail in the room is amazing.
After the tour, you are allowed access to the top of the Peace Tower (clock tower in the middle of the building via a lift) and the memorial chamber. The top of the Peace Tower provides a fantastic view of Ottawa and over the river into Gatineau, Quebec.
I looked in every nook and cranny of that building and Justin couldn’t be found.
Not being able to find Justin around the corridors of Parliament Hill I thought he and Sophie may have taken the kids to the Canadian Museum of History for the day, it was Family Day after all.
The Canadian Museum of History is located on the Quebec side of the river in Gatineau. We drove over the bridge from Ottawa and entered into the province of Quebec. As the official language of Quebec is French as soon as you come off the bridge the street signs and business signs are in French. People greet you and communicate in French first but everyone we encountered spoke English.
The Museum currently has a Vikings Exhibition and this was right up our alley because I am constantly telling the 8-year-old and the Canadian to stop eating like Vikings.
They can’t help it, it’s in the blood. The Canadian is from a town called Gimli in Manitoba
Gimli was first settled by Canadian Icelanders and Icelandic Immigrants. The town has a huge Viking statue on the lake.
Every year it holds an Icelandic festival over several days in the summer. I would love to visit the festival one day.
After we walked through the Vikings display we had booked tickets for the Vikings Imax movie in the theatre. It was informative and answered some of my questions that I had after walking through the displays.
Not knowing much about Canadian history and being a new resident I loved walking through the Grand Hall and found the First Peoples exhibition really informative.
The museum includes a Children’s Museum but at the time of our visit the entrance had a long line none of us including the 8-year-old had any interest in standing in (unless Justin was inside).
The museum building is also impressive as are the views from the Museum over the river and back up to the Parliament Hill buildings and Fairmont Chateau Laurier.
No Justin though!
Speaking of Justin I have decided that some looks just don’t work for him.
Like these … I hope they are just for Movember and don’t come back.
I also don’t think pale coloured suits are on his colour wheel.
We loved Ottawa and will go back again in summer and visit some of the other museums and galleries, hopefully with the change in weather we will be able to get oot and aboot and take a good look around town.
Fingers crossed I will get that selfie with Justin next time.