August long weekend, Kathleen and I took a little trip, just a couple hours in a Westjet 737. We flew out to Ottawa for a family reunion of my mom’s side of the family.
See, Mom lives in Manitoba, along with me and my middle sister. My youngest sister — who ended up not making it to the reunion, and she was sorely missed — lives further west, in Alberta. My uncle R lives in Nova Scotia, out on the east coast, and one of my aunts, M, lives in either Manitoba or China, depending on if school’s in session. So my other aunt, V, who lives in Ontario — in the Capital Region — decided, Hey, I’m right in the middle! So we had the reunion out at her place.
We arrived on Thursday afternoon, and were picked up at the airport by V. We went to her house — in a bedroom community about 40 minutes from Ottawa proper — and settled in. Most of the family was there already — my sister and her family had arrived earlier in the day, having driven from MB instead of flying. Brave, that; they have four children, and it was about a four-day drive. R was there, and M, and my mom. Most of V’s kids were floating around, too.
On Friday, we went into the city to do some touristing. Kathleen had never been to Ottawa, and my last visit was when I was 17, so the time was right. We got dropped off about a block from Parliament Hill, and toured around the grounds for a bit before taking the free tour of Centre Block, which is the building that houses both the House of Commons and the Senate. Government wasn’t in session, so we got the full tour (except the Peace Tower, which was closed).
Photos from our tour (click through for descriptions):
Things I learned on our tour:
- The Queen is not allowed to set foot in the House of Commons*. Apparently it stems from an incident when Charles I tried to storm the English parliament, and got told, in short, that the House of Commons was meant for the commoners, and he should
piss right offdepart if it should please His Majesty. When the Canadian House is in session, there’s a brass bar that symbolically marks where the Queen is supposed to stop.
- After a fire destroyed most** of Centre Block in 1916, it was rebuilt using Tyndall stone, which is a type of limestone found only in Manitoba. Which explained why all the walls had the striations I associate with Tyndall stone.
After the tour, we had about an hour and a half before our scheduled pick-up, so we wandered around downtown Ottawa for while. We found a little place called Byward Marketplace (I think) and had some samosas and naan from a little Indian food kiosk. Mmmm.
Then we wandered some more, and found a park to rest our tired feet and finish off our naan. The park had a view of Parliament.
A bit more wandering, and we found the National War Memorial, which features the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
After that, we found the buskers’ festival, and for some reason I have no photos of that. After that, we got picked up by one of my cousins, and we returned to V’s house.
Tomorrow: a few more photos, mostly of family.
* She’s welcome in the Senate, though. They have chairs for her and her husband in there.
** The Library survived.