After our trip through Quebec, we landed in Ottawa, or actually, on the municipal campground of Kanata, a small suburb of Ottawa, that is also the origin of Canada’s name. After the reasonably cool weather of the past few days, we ended up with 28 degrees celcius here, in an area where it hadn’t rained for 35 days. That doesn’t seem very long, but the trees around our motor home were acting as if it was fall, dropping dry brown leaves all around us. But, since the Dutch know all about water, we brought rain… or at least a few showers. Not enough to releave the camp fire ban of the campground, but enough to make our second day in the Ottawa area more comfortable as far as temperature and humidity are concerned.
That day was spent taking the bus to down town Ottawa, bringing us to the parliament buildings – a bit of a weird view, these 19th century buildings between sky scrapers and large office buildings of a rather young city. It does provide for great pictures though, when looking from the Quebec side of the river.
That side of the river was also the place where we spent most of the day in Ottawa, simply because that is where the Civilizations museum is located – a museum dedicated to the history and identity of Canada – and the civilizations that participate in this.
The thing we visited there was the First Nations exhibit, which displays a lot of what the native Americans, popularly known as Indians, and nowadays more formally addressed as aboriginals, did and still do. We admired totem poles that were as much as 200 years old, but also clothing that was created using traditional techniques less than 50 years ago. A museum employee explained to us how the aboriginals of the West coast created planks out of trees, while leaving the unneeded part of the tree intact and alive. The latter bit makes you wonder about how ruthless and careless the ‘civilized’ Europeans were (or are?)…
Also easily overlooked is that the aborginals were of different tribes, or people, each with their own habits and with their own quarrels – like the resit of the world. The Iroqui are different from the Ashinee, and the Inuit of the north. That’s something you don’t see immediately when going along the displayes, unless you let the sign shown below work it’s way into your mind for a few minutes. It certainly makes you look at the rest of the exhibition with a different eye….
After the first nations exhibition, we spent an hour at the IMAX theater, at a stunning moving about polar bears in the (melting) arctic. The filming was great, the message (CO2 causes the polar ice to melt) was delivered with a bit too much drama – the price you pay for having Meryl Streep delivering the narrative. Nevetheless, losing the permanent ice would mean losing the polar bear, which is a majestic animal to watch.
From the movie, back to the civilization museum, this time to the Tete-a-tete with many Canadian explorers, inventors, authors, and politicians on display, and then on to the 18th century village, which gave a nice impression on how similar and/or different life in Canada was from life in Europe. I had a good time, but forgot to take pictures, which was a bit of a shame.
After a short visit to the children’s museum, the day was mostly over and we hit down town Ottawa for diner. This time, we found a place that redefines pub food: where else can you find a pub that serves lobster linguini, trout in an asiago and chili crust, stuffed porc chops and salmon with soba noodles instead of shepherd’s pie and fish and chips? The food was good, and plenty, so the children took with them their first ever ‘doggy bag’.
To and from the campground, we made use of the Ottawa bus service, which is a very streamlined service, with buslanes throughout the down town area and bus stations every 1-2 kilometers. I’ve seen worse…
Walking to and from the bus stations, also gave us the opportunity to see some street art, as shown below and a the top of this post.
Bottom line, I liked Ottawa a lot better than Quebec, probably because it is less similar to European cities – and thus more ‘refreshing’.
P.S. we also saw the Ottawa end of the Rideau channel, but I’ll save that for the next post, after we visited the other end of the channel, at Kingston.