As expected, it’s a bit of a struggle to disembark the train upon arrival in Ottawa. On the platform I reorganize and make a note to myself that next time I will bring less and I will find wheels for my camera equipment. I really have to stop poking people’s eyes out with my tripod!
I make my way to the curb outside the terminal and flag a taxi. The cabbie wasn’t exactly thrilled when he saw my luggage but he was diplomatic and helped me stow the un-breakables in the trunk. It was thirteen something to get me from the Ottawa train station to the Chateau Laurier but clearly the driver was expecting at least fifteen as he had a five-dollar bill ready as change for an imagined twenty. While I fruitlessly explored my pockets for at least a tooney, the bellman at the Chateau effortlessly unloaded my luggage and offered to extricate my camera bag from the back seat of the cab. My mind and my hand waved goodbye to the cabbie’s five dollar bill.
I go through the motions of checking in. It always seems kind of dream like that I am checking into the Chateau. I feel like I have been beamed down or something?(Probably or something!) Anyway, before the feeling goes to my head, I dump the luggage in my palatial room, grab my camera and take to the streets.
I cannot come to Ottawa without being overcome with patriotism. I live in a good country with a great Capital. It is a safe place with good values. Don’t get me wrong, we have issues and bad things happen but Canadians are collectively, peace loving, caring people and this place relays that message loud and clear.
I head out the revolving doors of the Chateau, cross the Rideau Canal and walk to Parliament Hill. It’s sunny and getting increasingly warmer. I think I have prepared for the north too soon. I shed layers.
The architecture in Canada’s capital is breathtaking. The setting on the Ottawa River remarkable. The stench and logs of the Eddy Match Company used to dominate the river but now
the view from behind the Parliamentary Library is towards the Museum of Civilization in Hull. As I look out over the river, in my mind’s eye, I can see coureur de bois in their large canoes plying west on the mighty Ottawa, in search of furs!
I wander past Sir John A MacDonald and wish him a good day as pigeons fly from his head. Nellie McClung and her bronze tea party of fellow feminists, who fought for the recognition of women as persons, is bathed in sunshine. I stop at the Police Memorial and ponder the loss of so many good men. And then, from the vantage point of the Centennial Flame at the foot of the sidewalk leading up to the Peace Tower, I marvel at the continuity of the flame itself with its variability and many facets. It so reflects this country.
My feet take me to the parks that lead to the bridge to Hull, Quebec and the Gatineau and after a quick dodging of the afternoon rush hour traffic, I climb to the amphitheatre that is beside the statue of Champlain. As Captain Cook is to the world, Champlain is to Canada…he seems to have been everywhere! At one point in time, this height of land with its grand view of the river must have been a look out. Now it seems to be a place for texting teens and dog walkers.
It’s time to circle back towards the hotel so I head towards the National Gallery. A 30 foot bronze called “Maman”, the work of world renowned artist Louise Bourgeois sits in the plaza in front of this modern building. Interesting, but really, I can only think this permanent structure was probably approved by the same committee that purchased “The Stripe” back in the late 80’s early ‘90s.
At that time, a lot of taxpayers were not impressed by its price tag! Today, I am not sure what the cost is for a national spider!
As the Prime Minister did not invite me to dinner, I head past the entrance to his official residence on Sussex Drive and go back to the Laurier. Salad at Zoey’s, is my choice for supper. Zoey was Wilfred Laurier’s wife. Wilfred Laurier was Canada’s 7th Prime Minister.
It’s not that late but I think it’s time for bed. At $195 a night, including taxes, I can only hope that I will sleep well.