A Stroller’s Delight -- Celebrate Ottawa's 150th birthday with a walking tour
Publication: Good Times, Canada's Magazine for Successful Retirement , June, 2005
Date Published: 5/10/2007
Ottawa, at 150 years, is looking back on a rich, colourful past and celebrating with events that range from music festivals to gala masquerade balls. Before it was Ottawa, it was Bytown, the one-time camp of Lt.-Col John By and his regiments of engineers, stonemasons and labourers responsible for building the Rideau Canal. By the time Queen Victoria declared it the capital of an emerging nation, Ottawa was a bawdy, brawling lumber town. Now all these years later, it’s unquestionably a resplendent international gathering place.
It’s also a stroller’s delight, and with that in mind, good times has put together a look at the many wonders you can best discover on foot. There are all sorts of intriguing sites and stories, not to mention unique shops, restaurants and pubs.
Parliament Hill tops the “to-do” list of most first-timers visitors. After all, the Hill is our federal epicenter. And, the Centre Block, particularly the Peace Tower, is our most renowned symbol. The Parliament Buildings, with their massive murals and portraits, mighty archways, oak-and-brass doorways and intricate stone carvings, are best discovered through a guided tour. The 10-part relief History in Canada in the Commons foyer is a must-see. Chief parliamentary sculptor Eleanor Milne worked at night for eight years to complete this 37-metre frieze.
Visit the Peace Tower’s Memorial Chamber, which contains books of remembrance honouring Canadians who lost their lives during war. The view of the city from the tower’s observation deck is spectacular. The Library of Parliament, closed for renovation, is scheduled to reopen this fall.
In the East Block, there are four period rooms open to the public, including the restored office of our first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.
I always enjoy strolling the grounds. And when I’ve timed it right, I’ve had the Peace Tower’s 53-bell carillon resounding around me. Another special treat is the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony.
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