Ottawa, CA

Volume 7, Issue 146; 12 Aug 2004; last modified 08 Oct 2010

I spent most of (last) Sunday getting ready for the TAG face-to-face meeting, but sometime late in the afternoon, I decided it was time to check out the sites in Ottawa.

I spent most of (last) Sunday getting ready for the TAG face-to-face meeting, but sometime late in the afternoon, I decided it was time to check out the sites in Ottawa.

I wandered from my hotel up towards Rideau Falls. I had planned to stop at Rideau Hall to see a performance of Governor General’s Summer Concert Series, but the combination of a late start and a little bit of geographic disorentation conspired against me.

Paul had suggested taking a cab to the venue and walking back, to avoid just such an accident, but I didn't heed his advice. Stuart had called me that morning from Heathrow and we'd arranged to have dinner that evening. I didn't want to miss my walk, so I tried to do that first.

Stuart's call is another example of a modern marvel. Consider that my father remembers a time when there was one phone in his whole neighborhood and a voyage to England would have taken many weeks.

Stuart typed my mobile number into his phone, a litle gadget no bigger than a deck of cards, and my phone, sitting on the nightstand next to the bed in my hotel room in Ottawa, some 260 or so miles from my home, rang a few seconds later. We chatted for a few minutes and arranged to have dinner later that very day, more than 3000 miles from his location at the time. I am trying not to become jaded to such marvels.

In fact, Stuart, Tim, and I had a nice dinner at Mama Teresa's. I try to find local cuisine when I travel and I can attest that Ontario makes a very nice red; a Merlot, I think.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First I explored Ottawa. I walked past the parliament where the eternal flame burns.

Parliament
Parliament
Eternal Flame
Eternal Flame

The flame burns in the center of a fountain, which is both beautiful and surprising.

Beyond parliament, I passed a set of locks. I haven't seen locks since The South of France and it was warmly nostalgic to watch the boats going through them.

Locks
Locks

Between the locks and the falls, I passed the Royal Mint.

The Royal Mint
The Royal Mint

The mint plays a role in the Magnifi-Mint Cache.

Without a boat, it's hard to get a real frontal view of Rideau Falls, Ottawa's exemplary curtain falls.

Rideau Falls
Rideau Falls

On the way back from the falls, I decided to do a little geocaching. I located Magnifi-Mint behind the Royal Mint (I picked up SR-71 Blackbird, a travel bug bound for the Panama Canal). Weaving my way back to the road from behind the mint, I found myself in front of Ottawa’s Notre Dame Basilica.

Notre Dame Basilica
Notre Dame Basilica

From there, I made a half-hearted attempt to locate Baking Bread, but I gave up when the GPS seemed to take me inside a mall. With a little persistence, maybe I could have figured it out.

Along the way, I passed another Elephant and Castle. There's one in Boston near where I stayed last time I had meetings there, but it didn't have a pub sign.

Elephant and Castle
Elephant and Castle

I also passed Terre des hommes, a sculpture from the ’67 Expo.

Terre des hommes
Terre des hommes

I tried to find the O Canada cache too, back around the parliament buildings. I managed to get most of the clues (all but the corner clue, in fact), but it was getting near dinner time and the siren song of a soft seat and a cold beer back in the hotel was loud in my ears. Maybe next time.

One consequence of my search was that I looked at the parliament buildings very carefully. They are festooned with intricate carvings, ranging from whimisical to regal and stopping on most places in between.

Owl
Owl
Lion
Lion
Face
Face
Face
Face

Very definitely worth a closer look. As are the “cats” on the hill.

Cat
Cat
“Cat”
“Cat”
Sleepy Cat
Sleepy Cat

Across the street, and at the other end of the architectural spectrum, modern Ottawa.

Ottawa: Ancient and Modern
Ottawa: Ancient and Modern

I didn't scratch the surface of things to do. In my short, casual walk, I passed a modern photography museum that looked interesting, a museum of art, and as John noticed, I ended this sentence with a comma when I first posted the essay, so I must have had other things in mind. Alas, I no longer recall what they were.