A VISIT TO THE CENTRE BLOCK, CANADA’S ICONIC PARLIAMENT

Making Ottawa the last stop on our Tour de Canada wasn’t the initial plan. We were originally going to drive around northern Maine – either through the very tip-top and the remote Allagash County or through Baxter State Park and out to the coast. But plans change and the decision was made to add Canada’s national capital to our checklist (heck, we’ve seen D.C. plenty already). Heck, in the end it wasn’t even our last stop – we found a way to make it all the way to Toronto (and then through Niagara, no less) in our five days on the road.

Anyway, we got to Ottawa on an early Sunday evening. Our stay in this great Canadian city was all of about 17 hours, but it was enough to take in the glorious night sky as it enveloped the surrounding government buildings. We perched ourselves behind the Supreme Court building for awhile, overlooking the smoky town of Hull, Quebec and the Centre Block building, which stands tall above the Ottawa river.

Centre Block evokes images of Big Ben – which isn’t that big of a stretch considering Canada’s former status within the British throne. It’s a Victorian-style throwback and it’s quite magnificent. Much more surprisingly is how accessible it is. We wandered the grounds (dragging some fairly large camera equipment) until 11 p.m. that night, with nary a police officer asking what we were up to (it’s still fairly well patrolled).

The next morning we went in for a free tour but the dice didn’t roll our way. We were inches from going into the House of Commons before a guard closed the door on us and exclaimed that the House was back in session. No go on the Senate either. We were able to get into the library, which is the only part of the original Parliament building still standing (the current iteration is less than 100 years old, shockingly). Sadly, no pictures in the stunningly picturesque library. Go ahead and google it for yourselves…

The tour was free, so I can’t really complain – but we certainly drew the short straws on it. Check out more pictures of our foray into Ottawa below…

People enjoy gathering around the flame, especially in the chilly Canadian air

Prepping for our evening photo shoot

All lit up at night…

The Rideau Canal meanders throughout the city

Finishing things off with the Barking Squirrel lager over at a pub in the Byward Market. Needless to say this was the first (and probably last) beer I’ve ever drank to completion. I just don’t like beer!

My cousin holding up a poster of the House of Commons while we get some basic background info on it from our guide

Right outside the front doors of Parliament. Yes, you can just walk right up…

 

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