Ottawa is a town with a lot of class. On the North side of the river is the residential “working-class” area which is still in Quebec while on the South side of the river, on top of a hill, are the Government buildings situated in Ontario. They are close to the financial district with its high-rise buildings and the embassy area in a lovely park like environment. The 3 large parliament buildings are completed in 1865 after it was decided to move the country’s capital from Kingston to this site on the Ottawa river. Having the capital in Kingston, which is on Lake Ontario at the start of the St. Lawrence river, was considered risky since it is also on the border with the USA. The Americans had previously invaded Canada in 1812. To protect commercial shipping from possible attacks the 200 km Rideau canal was constructed in 1826 in order that the ships no longer had to sail over the St Lawrence to Montreal. The locks to this canal are next to the parliament buildings. We took a canal cruise over the first few kilometres of the canal to the first of many lakes which the canal connects. It was on this lake that Princess Juliana lived while in exile during WWII. Ottawa also has a Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel (1912) built by the Railway company like Quebec (and Toronto). On Sunday we managed to get tickets for a free tour inside the House of Commons. Unfortunately it was in French. We saw the large parliament hall, which is temporarily in the covered courtyard of one of the buildings. In 9 years time, the restoration of the main buildings will be completed.
Across the river from Parliament is the National Gallery of Canada. We walked to the museum via the impressive steel bridge. We spent quite some time listening to a performance of Inuit throat singing. The 2 ladies could make fascinating sounds and the percussionist added a dramatic rhythm to it. The performance was in a hall with many Totem poles from all parts of Canada. The exhibition behind the stage show clothing and shelters from some of the native tribes. Some tribes lived in longhouses grouped together as a village. In each longhouse up to 10 families lived together with multiple fires burning along the centre of the house. Interesting to see was also how the aboriginals managed to drive the bison herd over the cliff so that they could easily be killed (if necessary). Such herds no longer exist in Canada or the US. On the way back (saving us from more walking) we took the water taxi across.
We were invited for dinner by the Ambassador of Brunei, Pg Kamal. He was a fellow hockey player together with one of Jamaliah’s sister in the Brunei national team. We had a lovely evening with good food and conversation. We ended up staying the night here.
The next morning Rudy managed to fix the camper’s sun panel (it was not charging the battery) before we drove off in the direction of Kingston on Lake Ontario. Kingston is the end point of the Rideau canal. Before entering the town centre we stopped at Fort Henry heritage site. It was built to keep the Americans out but never had to be used as such. Unfortunately there was an accident on the only bridge into town. Because of this, it took us 2 hrs to get back to the highway. So we decided instead to drive on in the direction of Toronto. By the way Max won the Montreal Grandprix.