Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Happy Canada Day!

It is Canada's 141st birthday today. It is a national holiday, and all over the country there are parades, picnics, and in the evening, fireworks. The biggest party is here in the nation's capital, Ottawa. Every year Ottawans, Canadians from all over the country, and our many wonderful thousands of tourists, go onto the Hill, Parliament Hill, and from noon on, when the Prime Minister and the Governor General (who is the Queen's Representative, as the Queen of England is our titular Head of State) give their speeches, it is one long day of eating, drinking, walking around,listening to music, and finally, at 10 pm, fireworks over Parliament. In the meantime, better than any words, are some pictures I took while on the hill. Since the colours of our flag are white and red, many people wear one or the other on Canada Day, especially if they are going to the Hill. The best place to watch the fireworks is either from directly in front of parliament or from the river.

Parliament Hill - it sits slightly higher than anything around it, and gives a commanding view across the river to Gatineau and the province of Quebec. It is a gorgeous setting for our Parliament, the clock tower is yes, built in homage to Big Ben in London, and during the year, the grounds are accessible to the public daily. You can see how much rain we've been having because the trees are so green!

This is my husband Toby, and our two youngest children, Holly-Anne and Graham. You can just see the clock tower in the back ground. All the shots are from the east side of Parliament. We had gone to the Museum of Nature (called "The Dinosaur museum by Ottawa people in the know......)

Can you guess why? This is the new revamped display, and of course our kids's favourite part of the museum. We did go to every other floor, and then back outside back up to the Hill. By the time we came back from the museum, it was almost impossible to get close to the centre of the Hill. I will be taking pictures of Parliament from the other side of the river one day soon, as part of my 'what I see as I walk home' post I plan to do, since I have a spectacular view of the downtown and Parliament buildings when I take this particular route. Today, though, by 2 pm, it was almost impassable! And yes, if you look closely, we are wearing red or white! I admit it! we were part of the crowd today!!

We are not going back for the fireworks; the weather is so good today - a mild 25c, sunny, no clouds, no rain, no threat of storms as in past years - that by 2:00 it was mad with people on the hill,and there will be well over 100,000 people gathered to watch them because it is going to be such a beautiful evening. My husband and I estimate there will be between 200,00 and 300,00 people going downtown over the day, today. If not more. That's too many people for me! Though a great party! We're off to Britannia Beach shortly, which is 10 minutes walk from our house, and where yours truly might get to open a book.

Looking down towards the Rideau Centre, a shopping centre which is also the heart of downtown. The crossroads lead to the National Art Gallery (again photos will come on my later what I see from work walk) and the heart of the Market, a local summer fresh food market, and filled with the most amazing shops and stores. Very trendy, very crowded today, so we didn't bother. Most weekends it is the most popular part of Ottawa to go to. It is also where the oldest buildings we have are located, and in old days was called Lower Town, or Bytown. I love walking around looking at the old stonework, and the art gallery, St Patrick's Cathedral, and just people watching while I shop. The Rideau Centre is named for the Rideau river (which feeds the Ottawa River behind Parliament), and the Rideau Canal, which bridge we are standing on. The canal is now a World Heritage site, and still functions; it was designed to make it passable for boats from the Ottawa river to the St Lawrence, and is a series of waterways and canals built in the very early 1800's, as Ottawa itself was just growing as a town. The locks still work, and during the summer boats travel up and down the Ridea Canal in the middle of the city. Today though, it is a sea of white and red and people! Including our two:

catching some shade.... If you look closely, you can see they each have a Maple Leaf on their cheek, and Holly-Anne has the word on her arm.

I love the man's shirt! I had no idea, of course, he was even there, but it's a fitting way to end this little picture-logue of Ottawa celebrating Canada's birthday. The Maple Leaf is what we are most famous for. I told you we wear our colours proudly today!!!

And - I finished Piece of My Heart last night, so I read 10 books for the Canadian Book Challenge. Hurray! I will review later. Time for the barbecue (another Canadian tradition on July 1) and then the beach!!

By the way - the streets around Parliament Hill are closed off for the day to traffic. It's not a pedestrian mall! Normally filled with traffic, it is the one day we can walk through the downtown core freely. So that's why the shot of the Rideau centre is so remarkable - not just for the sea of people, but that this happens only once a year too!

Happy Canada Day, everyone! Happy birthday, Canada!


Heather J. said...

What a lovely post and pictures! I'm glad you have a great day.

Happy Canada Day from your southern neighbor. :)

Bybee said...

Excellent pictures! They make me want to apply for citizenship!

Me (Patricia) said...

Nice photos of the kids; looks like you guys had fun yesterday! Was your beach one of the ones closed due to high bacteria counts? I wouldn't have gone to Parliament Hill, even though I am a very loyal Canadian ~ too many people!
The kids look great and it'll be wonderful to see them and you guys later this month.
See ya' soon.

Chris said...

Great pics! We took it easy this year. We went to the park celebrations and then went to DQ.

Susan said...

heather: thanks! Your day is tomorrow, so happy July 4th!!

bybee: come on over!

patricia: Britannia beach is one of the ones farthest up the river, so we are the last to close. Ours was opened. We're all excited, see you in a few weeks! :-)

chris: if our closest DQ wasn't always filled with people lining up, we'd go more often! You sound like you had a lovely quiet time, which is what I think I will plan for next year - a whole day at the beach! (wearing some red, of course! or white!)