The summer of 2015, saturated with a searing yet welcome heat, led us to explore the capital of Canada, among other places. Ottawa, which is about a 4 hour drive from Toronto, Ontario, was more than just a weekend getaway. Being month old Canadian residents, we were glad to be able to imbibe local history and what better place to do that than at the capital. We had ensured we had more than enough time to check off popular spots, stroll around the off beaten paths & scour the food scene at the Byward market.
Since we sojourned at a hotel in Gatineau in Quebec, which is literally a bridge ride away from Ottawa, we got to walk along the Royal Alexandra Bridge, an interprovincial cantilever bridge spanning the Ottawa River. Barring the scaffoldings & renovations of adjacent buildings, I’m sure it would have made for a scenic photograph of a fiery sun playing hide & seek amid the worn out copper spires of the Parliament, against the sparkling blue waters. Nevertheless, a short walk took us to the Parliament Hill which did indeed promise not just pictures but plenty of teach worthy moments.
The Parliament Hill is home to the Centre, East & West Blocks of the Parliament, all revealing the Victorian Gothic Revival architectural style, grey stone facades & verdigris rooftops.The Centre Block, stretches across an extensive area on the hill and it’s grand interiors are ridden with vaulted ceilings & white stone carvings of gargoyles & grotesques. It was also the victim of a roaring fire in 1916. The Library of Parliament however, remained unscathed thanks to the timely actions of a clerk who managed to shut off the iron doors before the fire raged & created havoc. Enough gratitude could never be showered on this man for countless tourists would have been deprived of the vision that beholds in the library premises. Standing proud behind the Centre Block, this library is an architectural masterpiece inside and out with intricate carvings of flowers, masks & mythical beasts & a marble statue of a young Queen Victoria in the centre. Alcoves lined with pine, nurture towering cases of books and for some of us, this is what paradise looks like.
The Peace Tower, a linear monument in the centre of the Centre Block and home to a 53 bell carillon, that serves as a memorial to the Canadians who gave their life in the Great War.
Every morning at 10:00 am, the ceremonial change of guard takes place on the lawns rolling in front of the Parliament. But come sundown, the same lawns masquerade as a solace for tired legs as a light show depicting the history of Canada unveils. Thirty minutes to relax & learn.
The Centre, East & West Blocks of the Parliament
The Library of Parliament
Interiors of the Centre Block
Change of the Guard ceremony
Light show at night
A short walk ahead of the Parliament Hill is the Rideau Canal, a chain of lakes & rivers and a National Historic Site. Connecting Ottawa and Kingston, this canal is operated by a fully functioning lock system which makes for an interesting watch as the boats come & go. Come winter, the frozen waters transform into a skating rink…
1. (left)View of the Parliament Hill from the Royal Alexandra Bridge 2. (upper right) A diminutive version of the city 3. (lower right) Picture of the Chateau Laurier Hotel
I do hope I did justice in sharing a glimpse of the capital city of Canada. Feedbacks are always welcome!