Ottawa – Parliament – South of the Border

August 22, 2019

These are two of several buildings located across Wellington Street from the Parliament complex (hence the term “south of the border”) which are still considered to be within the official Parliamentary “boundary”.






When I was in town Tuesday I was tempted to knock on the door to see if Justin could come out and play but since it was a work-day I presume he was busy inside plotting the country’s defense against Trump’s inevitable attempt to purchase the country…

The Prime Minister’s residence is located north of town.  I drove past the entrance on my way out of town on Wednesday when I drove out to see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s “Musical Ride Centre” where they keep the horses (yes, there is a reason they are called “mounted” police) and also has facilities where they can practice their ceremonial routines.



It took some time to find the answer but I finally determined what this building used to be and what it is now destined to become.


Until it moved to it’s new home on the northeast side of town in 1998 this building used to house the US Embassy.  Here is a photo I found online showing the ceremony in June of 2017 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the transformation the building would be undergoing.  Canada is very proud of it’s roots and the multitude of indigenous people throughout the country and this center will focus on celebrating those roots.


(Photo credit: Ottawa Citizen/ Sean Kirkpatrick/CP)

The three banners hanging in front of the building represent the First Nations Assembly, the Inuit peoples and the Métis peoples.  Their flags now fly above the building along with the Canadian flag.  You’ll see those later in this post.

Something I found very interesting about this building was the use of large TV monitors in the windows which allows for the constantly changing display of high-quality images.




And here’s a better look at the flags flying above the building:






The Métis flag is merely the infinity symbol displayed on a blue background.  The Métis peoples are generally found in western Canada.

Another interesting thing about this building (whose actual occupancy is still a work in process) is a large wooden structure being build next to it.





The reason why those photos were taken so close to the target is the heavy wrought-iron fence which stretches in front of the building:


I will be interested to see (online) what this structure ends up being, and look forward to visiting this building again next year when I return to Canada.





Ottawa – Parliament – Other buildings

August 22, 2019

I can save lots of time and condense several of the other buildings of the Parliament complex in this one post.


This building, seen to the right when looking at Centre Block from the front of the complex, was undergoing major repair and renovation so I didn’t take too many photos.

This is the back as seen from Major’s Hill Park:


This is the main view as seen from the plaza in front of the Parliament complex:





This building, as well as the next two, are located further to the southwest from West Block along Wellington Street.



There was a PPS security vehicle near the rear of this building on Thursday when I was in town.  Shortly after I took this photo a motorcade approached the complex from the center of town.  There would be another motorcade through town later in the day.  At some point during the day the mayor of Montreal appeared at the Parliament complex to accept a large “check” from the Prime Minister to establish a new museum in that city.  I don’t know what effect, if any, that visit might have had on Parliament tours during the day.



Further southwest on Wellington Street from the Confederation Building is the Justice Building:


And near the Justice Building, but not shown on the Parliament complex map, is the Supreme Court building:



Ottawa – Parliament – West Block

August 22, 2019

This building is located to the left of Centre Block as viewed from the front of the Parliament complex.  Because it is closer to the main street I took advantage of the proximity to take lots of closeups of this incredibly ornate building.

The first photo below is angled slightly from front to back and the second is angled slightly from back to front and shows more of the back of the building.














The following photos are around the left side of the building as viewed from the street, looking towards the back of the building:





Ottawa – Parliament – Library

August 22, 2019

This building is hidden from view when looking at the Parliament complex from the front which is a shame because it is a very attractive structure.  It is partially visible at the right side of the Peace Tower in the first photo of the Centre Block post below.  The first photo in this post was actually on another Library building in another part of the city.  The rest of these photos were taken from Major’s Hill Park and the building also appears in some of the photos in the previous “Overview” post.








Ottawa – Parliament – Centre Block

August 22, 2019

Centre Block is the largest and most imposing building in the Parliament complex.


Centered in the sidewalk way out by the street is the Eternal Flame:



All of the buildings in the Parliament complex are incredibly ornate.  The tallest portion of the Centre Block building is called the Peace Tower and is visible from all over the city:





The lower portions of the building were undergoing some repairs and there were trucks, trailers and equipment scattered about.  Here is the left side of the lower portion of the building.  I didn’t even bother with the right side as there was more clutter over there.



Out by Wellington Street were several large, ornate gates:



And in these days of heightened security there were several vehicles scattered around the property with officers keeping a watchful eye on the goings on. The Parliamentary Protective Service is hybrid of the US Park Police and US Secret Service which protects both property and politicians.


And of course the Royal Canadian Mounted Police don’t want to be left out of the loop.


I’m sure there were lots of other “eyes” watching, too, so needless to say I was properly attired and displayed only my best behavior.

The public may tour the Parliament complex but I did not even attempt to do that.  My Airbnb hostess told me that only a limited number of tickets are made available based on events scheduled at the facility and they are only issued at the Visitor Information Center located across the street from Centre Block.  Tickets are not issued in advance and are only available by waiting at the Visitor Center the morning of the day you hope to gain access.  I will probably try to get on a tour next year when I go back to Canada to revisit my favorite venues.  I also plan to allow several days to go in many of the museums, not only in Ottawa but in other places as well.  I was very lucky with weather this year and now that I’ve seen the “sights” I really need to take a look at many of the museums both here and in more of the places I visit in the future.


Ottawa – Parliament (overview)

August 22, 2019

Of course Ottawa is the national capital of Canada and I spent most of my first day in the city exploring almost everything BUT the Parliament complex.  I lucked out because the weather on my second day downtown was much better for photographs and I took lots of them.  I’m going to break them up in groups, but first let me show you a map and give you a preview of what you’ll be seeing.


I know I could crop the photo above to center on the logo but please take note of the building on the right (with three flags flying above it) as it will be discussed in more detail later.

Here is the lay of the land:


(Photo credit”

The main Parliament building is “Centre Block” on the map above and it is flanked on either side by the “West Block” and “East Block” buildings.  The area where the words “Centennial Flame” appears on the map is a large, open grass lawn.  This is where the formal “changing of the guard” ceremony occurs daily.  I did NOT attend this ceremony.

To the left of the main buildings on the map are the Confederation and Justice Buildings.  Across the street, and below the word “Street” in Wellington Street, is the office of the Prime Minister.  The “L” shaped building above the two T’s in the word “Ottawa” at the bottom of the map will be shown and described later but I haven’t been able to determine the exact name of the building.

I will be posting photos in groups, some focusing on a specific building and some which will cover multiple buildings.

And before I begin posting photos I must confess that I am an idiot and spent more time than I care to admit taking photos from the right side of the map, thinking it was the only view of Parliament I might get.  I was in Major’s Hill Park and I admit that I wondered why the things I was seeing were somewhat distant and weren’t a little more symmetrical.  It wasn’t until I pressed some local people as to why I couldn’t find the Visitor’s Information Center where it was shown on my map that I discovered I wasn’t in front of Parliament but was off to the right side.  Oops.  And of course the Information Center was exactly where it was supposed to be, across from the front of the Parliament complex.

The right side of the map shows Major’s Hill Park in the upper right corner, the Fountain Château Laurier hotel in the lower right corner and the Rideau Canal and Ottawa Locks flowing between them and the Parliament complex.

This was my first look at Parliament from Major’s Hill Park:


The view below shows Lt. Col. John By overlooking the Rideau Canal which flows between where his statue is located and the Parliament buildings.


And this is a slightly different view from the park showing some of the Parliament buildings.


Not too shabby but as you will see this is much more impressive when viewed properly from the front!



Ottawa – Canadian War Memorial

August 21, 2019

Across from the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel is a triangular plaza which contains statues and busts of many noteworthy  people in Canada’s history.  Here is a very small sampling:





As I was taking these photos I heard shouting, then bagpipes and an impromptu parade broke out.  Well, a parade of 5 people…


With a military policeman as an escort and another bringing up the rear, a bagpiper and two military members commenced a short walk first in one direction part way around the plaza, then back to where they began, before disbanding.



This may all have had something to do with something else located on the plaza – the Canadian War Memorial and tomb of the Unknown Soldier:




I wasn’t expecting this display and didn’t keep track of exactly who was where, when but in hindsight what I witnessed may have been part of a “changing of the guard” ceremony.  There were also moments when each guard would very deliberately march left and right from their stationary post of standing guard over the tomb.

After taking these photos I put my cameras away and stood in front of the tomb to pay my respects.

Ottawa – Rideau Canal & Ottawa Locks

August 22, 2019

As I mentioned in a previous post, Lt. Col. John By was the Master Engineer behind the creation of the Rideau Canal, which runs through the city of Ottawa.  Pre-trip research had flagged this canal as a must-see destination during my trip but as I drove in to town each morning from the west side my route took me along part of the canal south of town and I could see there was some fairly significant construction underway on either side of the canal so I decided not to walk very far away from town as I had originally planned.  What I could see in town was impressive enough, though….

Looking south from the main street which runs in front of the Parliament complex this was the view of the canal at “city level”:


And this is the view of the “destination,” the Ottawa River located some 79 feet below as seen from Major’s Hill Park (slightly above “city level”):


Getting from Point A to Point B is achieved by passing through a series of locks, or compartments, which can either let water in one end or let water out the other end of the compartment depending on the desired direction of travel.  As I was observing the process in action they were lowering a medium sized pleasure craft from city level down to the river.

Here is the boat in the first “compartment”:


And this is the direction of travel:


To add to the fun, people can easily cross on narrow walkways over each level on the way down:


As this ship was working it’s way down to the river, huge gates were slowly opened allowing water to escape the compartment, lowering the water level to match that of the next compartment.  That process is repeated until the ship finally reaches the surface of the river.



I was quite surprised to learn that the gates are still opened and closed by manual cranks!


And given that this facility is managed by Parks Canada there are of course red chairs where visitors may watch the fun and enjoy the view:



And after the final compartment is emptied…


…. the ship reaches the river:


The process can be reversed by having a ship enter the lowest compartment, then filling it with water from the canal at “city level” until it matches the level of the next highest compartment, and so on until the ship reaches the canal at “city level”.  According to signs at the canal that process takes about an hour and a half.

And if you think this process is pretty slick, wait until I get around to posting pictures from Sault Saint Marie on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where the Soo Locks raise and lower gigantic cargo ships to allow them to pass between Lake Superior, whose surface is 601 feet above sea level and Lake Huron, whose surface is only 579 feet above sea level.  Same logic but using only one compartment and obviously on a MUCH bigger scale.


(Photo credit:

Ottawa – Art – Various places

August 21, 2019

I haven’t posted a map of downtown Ottawa because I knew I’d be posting pictures of this metallic map I found near the art museum:


Pretty much everything I have posted in the past three days are from the north and east sides of town, or the right side of the first photo above.  I have “zoomed in” to that portion in the photo below:


The art museum is the largest building in the top portion of the photo (21), the Mint is just above it (23) and the Notre-Dame Cathedral is across the street to the right (22).  Major’s Hill Park is shown with the large disk just below the center of the photo and the portion of Rideau Canal which empties to the Ottawa River is just left of it (4).  The Farmers Market is at the far right of the photo (25).  I will discuss the large building at the lower portion of the photo (5) in a future post.

I haven’t talked about the Parliament complex in posts from the last 3 days but will be getting to it very soon.


I did take pictures there on the first day I was in town but the weather was much nicer the following morning so I will post those photos when I am finished posting Wednesday’s photos.

Here is some other artwork I found on the first day I was downtown:

This piece was in a small park near the Notre-Dame Cathedral:


This wooden sculpture was in Major’s Hill Park:


It is quite simply constructed of wooden planks bolted together and stained:



The staircase below goes from the courtyard where the giant O-T-T-A-W-A letters are up to Major Hill’s Park.  The US Embassy is just to the right of the stairs.


I hadn’t noticed it when I took the first photo but there are ramps on both sides of the stairs to make taking bicycles up or down the stairs easier for riders (and LOTS of people in Canadian cities get around by bicycle).


This piece was inside a former bank, now occupied by the tourist Visitor Information Center.  I don’t remember if it was part of the original building or moved there from somewhere else.


This was the elaborate tile floor in the lobby of the former bank:


And silly me thought Molson only made beer…