I’ve kept you waiting long enough – 3 whole weeks!! I know you’re just dying to hear about our trip to Ottawa. All-in-all, it wasn’t half bad. Very busy, and very hot!!! We were doing a walking tour of downtown Ottawa and it was 47C (that’s 116.5F)! It was not appropriate weather for Canadians. Nope, nope, nope, but we survived because we’re Canadian and we’re tough (ok, in reality we kept dodging into places that had the A/C blasting so we didn’t pass out…I’m a spring/fall person myself, I prefer moderate temperatures not this extreme nonsense).

We met at the school at 6am on Tuesday and left the parking lot at 6:30am. Unless you’re in the military, this is a cruel time to expect people to function. I barely had the sleep out of my eyes as I was driving to the school. I’m glad the streets were relatively quiet or I could have been a traffic hazard.

It takes about 8 hours to drive from our hometown northeast to Ottawa. We were scheduled to arrive at the National Gallery of Canada at 2:30pm, but we didn’t quite make it. There was a bit of a snag in the timetable when one of the two buses we were taking broke down and we were delayed while the situation was remedied.

The rest of our schedule was jammed packed. We did a walking tour of downtown Ottawa. We checked out the various monuments around the capital including the statues of Laura Secord – herione of the War of 1812; The National War Memorial – which commemorates those who fought in both World Wars and the Korean War; and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (which is in front of the War Memorial) – the remains of an unidentified soldier from  WWI whose body rested near Vimy Ridge, France until 2000 when it was decided to bring him home to Canada; he was laid to rest in Ottawa on a plot which consisted of soil brought in from each province & territory; so no matter where he was from he would forever rest on his home turf (I’m tearing up just writing this, you should have seen me at the memorial, I was a mess).

Rian and Laura Secord; Rian’s the one with the hot-pink watch in case you weren’t able to discern who was who.

copyright Holly McNea, 2012

The National War Memorial

Close up of the War Memorial. The sculptor did an amazing job of capturing the raw emotion of the men.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was so impressed with how solemn Rian’s classmates were. They really need to be commended for their respectful behaviour.

That evening Rian and I separated from the group and went to visit her older (half – we don’t say the half part though) brother, Graedon. This was the second time Rian had met with him and the first time I had met him. The last time they saw each other Rian was only 8 and Graedon, who is now 22, was 16. It was a fun evening filled with giggles, more from Rian than from Graedon. I don’t think he’s much of a giggler.

Rian was so happy to see Graedon again.

On Wednesday we toured the National War Museum. We didn’t have nearly enough time to take in all the exhibits or talk to the veterans who volunteer there and share their stories with the visitors. We visited the Currency Museum (Rian was interested in some of it, I was bored silly – maybe if we had had more time I would have gotten into it). We also toured the National Gallery of Canada. Rian, her friend, Brody who was tagging along with us, and I spent most of our time there in the photography exhibit (I must admit, I had some influence on that).

Wednesday was the sickeningly hot day and it was when we separated from the group to head back to our accommodations (we stayed in the residences at the University of Ottawa)  while they did a tour of the monuments on Parliament Hill that we got lost. We were wondering around downtown, I was disoriented because I was dehydrated and succumbing to heat stroke (again, I say, I am Canadian and am not designed for that kind of heat – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!), and it took us the longest time to figure out where we. We even asked 4 different people for directions. Cities are not my thing – too much concrete, too many buildings, too easy to get lost (I’m a country girl at heart).

When we finally made it back to our room we both drank a few glasses of water and I had a  tepid shower in the hopes of cooling myself down. It worked wonders! I insisted Rian do the same even though she prefers to take boiling hot showers. I can’t speak for Rian, but I felt much better after that.

That evening the group went bowling and Rian and I went our own way to see her older (half, again) sister, Cassandra. Cassandra and her husband, Mackenzie were expecting their first baby on July 7. We were so excited to see her and her baby belly!! We brought gifts for Rian’s nephew-to-be (and my grandbaby, I asked and I have permission to call him that) and I made Cassandra pose for baby-bump photos. (The baby was born on July 8th. Callum weighed 8lbs 14oz. I’m hoping to get up there in August with both kids so they can meet their nephew.)


Thursday was our last day in the capital. We crossed the Quebec border and toured the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec. Ottawa-Gatineau form what is formerly called the National Capital Region. From Wikipedia – “Although the NCR is not a separate political jurisdiction, the National Capital Commision has a mandate and mission to build the NCR into a source of pride and unity for Canadians”.

Upon entering “la belle province” the primary language changes from English to French. Canada is a bilingual country, but different regions have different language laws and customs and French is the first-language for the majority of Quebecois. Fortunately the language difference, at least for me (I am not bilingual but I speak great Franglais which doesn’t always go over so well with my Francophone countrymen), wasn’t an issue since everyone who worked there was bilingual and Rian attends a French-Immersion school so her comprehension was helpful.

After a very short visit there we went on to our second-last stop in Ottawa; the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court was a very controlled and short tour. This was good since most of us were exhausted! Interesting tidbit we learned at the Supreme Court – the term lawyer is an American term that is not used in Canadian courts. Instead, legal representatives are referred to as attorneys (I knew you’d want to know that, you’re welcome!)

Rian’s Grade 8 graduating class on the steps of the Supreme Court of Canada. The young woman in the bright orange shirt was our tour leader, Olivia. She was so amazing with our group throughout the three-day tour, I can’t say enough good things about her. Rian’s right beside her; in black with the hot-pink watch. Yup, she wore black yoga pants during a heat wave. That’s my girl.

The last stop of the tour was the Rideau Centre; Ottawa’s premier shopping destination. We were given 45 minutes to shop and get lunch. Ummm, yeah, that was our reaction too. I think it should go without saying we were late leaving the mall (I must tell you though, it wasn’t just the young teens who held us up, a couple of the teachers were late to arrive at our meeting point too – that mall was swarming with people!!)

Anyway, long story short, another 8-hour bus ride to get home before we were able to curl up in our own beds and sleep like the dead. Writing this blog I have re-experienced my exhaustion from the trip. I think I hear my bed calling me now….

please note: I have more photos I’m going to share. I’m just trying to figure out to make them into a slideshow format for your viewing pleasure. And a few tales about how Rian fared with her MHIs during the trip.


About Holly

I hope you're able to glean something from this blog, a nugget of wisdom, a new perspective, a smile or even a laugh. I enjoy getting feedback so please comment, share your story with me too. After all, we're here to help each other.
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11 Responses to Ottawa!!!!!!!

  1. Wow – so hot there! Glad it didn’t stop your good time.

    • Holly says:

      It was insanely hot!! It slowed us down some, but we still had a good time.
      How’s the weather been in North Jersey? Forgive my ignorance, but is that in New Jersey?

      • Yes, it is. The town I live in – Fair Lawn – is in the northern part of the state – 10 miles or so from Manhattan.
        The weatehr was brutal last week but okay this week – conisdering it is summer.

      • Holly says:

        It has been a warm one! We’re hoping for rain. The crops are looking a little sad.

      • That would be nice. My lawn is turning brown. Bring back the green!

      • Holly says:

        Growing up in the country we had a fair-sized lawn to mow. It would take a few hours on a rider. When it turned brown and burned off I would jump for joy because it meant I didn’t have to mow anymore! lol
        I’ve taught my kids the same lawn-care philosophy. I’m not sure how impressed my neighbours are, but oh well. 🙂

  2. What an awesome trip you girls had, and such a terrific experience, even with the heat. At Maycee’s old school they had a fun and educational trip such as this for the 6th grade year-going to Washington D.C. I always thought I would be going on that with her. Within the public school-not quite the same. Anyhow, can’t wait to see the next post with more pics…oh, and I agree….should have given you at least a full hour of shopping! Geeeeeeeeez!

    • Holly says:

      It was a good trip. I’m so sorry that Maycee may miss out, but you never know what God has in store…things may change a lot between now and then 🙂
      I’d like to take the kids to Washington DC too. I want to go to the Smithsonian. The kids have expressed interest in seeing it ever since they watched Night at the Museum 2. Funny what tickles their fancy isn’t it?
      I hope you two have a great weekend 🙂

  3. Maisee says:

    That sounds like it was a great trip!!! Did you guys get to see Niagara Falls? If you did I bet it was amazing!!! Maybe someday I will go to Canada, but not until I get a passport!!! LOL… Oh, that reminds me… did you and Rian have to get passports or did the school provide them??

    • Holly says:

      I’m Canadian actually so no passports were needed. We didn’t go to Niagara Falls this time (opposite direction) but have been there before, and yes, it is amazing!! I hope you’re able to make it to Canada one day. It’s beautiful here. 🙂

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