I must admit, that if our kids hadn’t insisted on seeing the Parliament buildings we probably would not have come to Ottawa on this trip. Both girls were very interested in not only looking at the buildings, but actually going inside for a tour as well. What kind of parents would we be to deny our children a visit to their national capital?

We left Montreal and did the very easy 2 hour drive over to Ottawa. Not much exciting to see along the way (other than our Tim Hortons pit stop… how can you go on a Canadian tour without some Timmies?). We arrived in to Ottawa just after noon and made our way to the tourist office for tickets for the Parliament tours. You can’t book them ahead of time and they are given on a first come, first serve basis. We wanted to go on a tour of both the Centre Block (where the House of Commons and Senate are located), as well as the East Block (which is only available during the summer when the ‘real’ politicians are on summer hiatus). We couldn’t believe our luck as we got the last 4 tickets for the final afternoon tour of the Centre Block, and the only 4 tickets left that gave us time to see the East Block before our other tour. Phew! With luck on our side and a spring in our step we had about 45 minutes to kill before our first tour. There is a phenomenal market just a few blocks from Parliament, and after walking through it I was soooo wishing for a kitchen and some cutting boards and pots because the produce was amazing! They frown upon you walking through the House of Commons with bags of beans and corn so I didn’t buy anything, but I am still thinking of those amazing strawberries 8 hours later!

parliamentThe tours run every 5 minutes (!!) and are either in French or English. They are extremely efficient and timely and I can’t imagine how many people tour the buildings each day. Plus, they are free! Our first tour left promptly, and after going through what looked like airport security and having all the zippers in my purse opened, we arrived in the East Block. This is where the Prime Minister and Governor Generals had their offices up until 1972 (at which point they moved to a bigger, better building). Based on old photos and records, they restored the offices to 1872 which was really interesting. A lot of the furniture and fixtures were found in storage, and the carpet in Sir John A. MacDonald’s office was the same pattern as what he originally had – the company in England that they imported it from back then still makes the exact same carpet with the same pattern! (Green carpet with a diamond pattern, if you’re interested.) Funny how life has changed since then – they had giant desks with piles of papers and books… gas lanterns, and a (considered fancy) sink in the corner with water straight from the river! The amount of crown mouldings on the ceiling indicated your social status which means I may be checking out your living room intensely the next time I’m at your house! ;) (Call me uncouth, but I wondered if they ever peed in the sink instead of walking down the hallway to the shared bathroom.)

Parliament libraryWe had a short break between our two tours and there was a heaven-sent Milestones close by. The kids ate marshmallow ice cream with caramel sauce (I know, right?) and the adults had adult beverages in cool air-conditioning. Very pleasant indeed. Then, on to the Centre Block tour. The security was even higher here as this is where the ‘real stuff’ happens. We were able to see the House of Commons, the Senate, and the Library amongst other rooms. The Library was particularly impressive and very beautiful. I could’ve spent a whole day in there! My weakness is super old books with all of the dust and history they contain.

All four of us learned a lot, and the girls were really interested in both tours. It was a lot of information to absorb, but it was done really well and I would totally recommend the tour to anyone who is visiting Ottawa. The Parliamentary System isn’t necessarily the easiest to understand (is any government system?), but this helped put it a little more in to perspective. At the end we hopped in our rental car and staked out Rideau Hall (home of the Governor General and quite impressive), as well as the Prime Minister’s house. Interestingly enough, it’s right next door to the French Embassy which looked very cool. We wondered if we could possibly get invited in for dinner because we were quite sure that it would be delicious!

We were all tired and hungry after all of that learning, and after a delicious Italian meal and a quick swim we were happy to relax in the room for the remainder of the night. We are off again in the morning and heading to Niagara Falls. I’m not sure that our brains will be able to keep up with all of these visual delights! Good problems. :)

 **Disclaimer.... these pictures are kind of fuzzy and driving me crazy.  I have a new laptop and am having troubles getting the pictures downloaded.  I hope to figure this out soon because it is making me bonkers.  At least you get the gist with these fuzzy photos!**


 photo gallery


me_madridAbout Me

Blog Archive

Powered by mod LCA