It was a rainy weekend when we headed out to Ottawa, the very next day upon landing in Toronto. It was the 1st of July – Canada Day, and the streets were full of people dressed in red and white. Basically, everything you would NOT expect outside a parliament was there – food trucks, folks dressed as super heroes, soap bubbles in the air, street artists…
We couldn’t really tell how huge the Parliament grounds were, because of the hordes of people and a stage being set up right in the middle for A ROCK BAND! But the architecture of the massive building was just gorgeous. I would have expected a Parliament to be solid and white – like uhmm.. The White House, instead, it looked like something out of Harry Potter. Rows upon rows of dome shaped windows, innumerable little towers sticking up, a brick facade and a gigantic clock tower.
In the middle of the ground is the Centenial Flame, a flame that celebrates 100 years of Canada’s Confederation and burns all day, every day. The emblems of each of the Provinces feature as part of the fountain. In fact, one comes upon these emblems everywhere – on the door of the Senate, the ceilings and plaques.
Walking along the street and around Parliament Hill, we came across plenty of statues ranging from former Prime Ministers to important stories in Canadian History. There are apparently 17 statues on the grounds and 90 along Wellington Street. My favorite were these 2 old ladies enjoying their tea. Would be apt around Indian Parliament too, don’t you think?
INSIDE PARLIAMENT HILL
The tour of Parliament Hill is a delight for history buffs. The guided tour takes one into the Senate and the House of Commons. The guide provides little known facts as you walk along the long corridors and stare in awe at the plush, stately interiors where the Queen sometimes sits when a session is in progress. What’s striking is the way they pay attention to detail while carving out the logo of each of the Provinces on the ceiling.
I loved the Library here. It’s hard not to.. and you can see why.
Another interesting room was the Memorial Chamber – a tiny room with books containing names of soldiers who died while serving during war.The marble walls are inscribed with beautiful poems in honor of the soldiers. There’s a book for WW1, WW2, The Korean War and many others. A page is turned in each of the books at 11 am every morning to ensure that each of the soldier’s names feature on top.
The highest point in the Parliament, the Peace tower is a symbol of Canada’s commitment to peace and gives one a fabulous view of the grounds and buildings. A clock on the top is surrounded by 53 bells of different sizes and sounds, and they chime different tunes from Super Mario to the Star Wars theme song. How cool is that!!!!
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
The next morning, we rushed to see the changing of the guard, a tradition since 1959. Every morning at 10 am, the Governor’s General Foot soldiers (in red coats playing brass instruments) and Canadian Grenadier Guards (In green kilts playing the pipes) march to their own tunes, literally! With the Parliament Hill building as the backdrop, this 45 minute show is executed to precision and is really entertaining
- Arrive 15 minutes early and grab a good spot to watch changing of the guards
- The Parliament Hill Tour is Free and available in English and French – but you need to collect tickets in advance.
- Get pictures with the soldiers before or after the show as they will not move once they stand at their positions