Second stop of the Trip: Ottawa in cold Canada.
7 years ago when we decided to move to Australia we were hesitating between Canada and Australia so we've always wondered what our life would be like if we picked Canada instead.
Well now we know: we found a lot of similarities between the two countries (history due to being part of the Commonwealth, similarities in culture and lifestyle, in visas, in food etc)but what makes it really different is the weather. And now we know that Cedric -despite his love for skiing- won't survive the -25 to -40 degrees ! So (for once) we've made a good choice picking Australia apparently ;)
Ottawa is only a 11hours bus ride from NYC. After a quick stop at the border between the 2 countries at 5am during which the immigration agent - with her funny French Canadian accent that we can't really understand- was surprised we had so many friends between Canada and Mexico (well in reality only 2 people but it seemed a lot to her !) we arrived in freezing Ottawa.
The next week was all about food - Claire-Marine and Jeremy our hosts being such good cooks.
Ottawa is the capital city (since Queen Victoria made Ottawa the Capital City of Canada) hence home of the government offices of Canada. It was really weird for us to see all signs written in both English and French and so many people being able to speak both languages perfectly. We never knew which language we should use so we follow Claire-Marine's rule: if you want to make sure you understood and are understood: speak English.
The Parliament of Canada is in Ottawa and sits atop a hill dominating the city and the Canal. The Canal is 202 kilometres long and was built primarily to provide a secure supply and communications route between Montreal and the British naval base in Kingston and avoid the one going through the USA in case of a war. Now locals mostly use it as an ice-skating ring during winter months. Would love to see that.
Coming back to the Parliament we took a tour to visit it. The interior had to be rebuilt in 1916 following a fire.
Unfortunately we've not been able to visit the Senate house and the House of Commons as the senators were busy making new laws and leading the country !
In front of the Parliament, just across the canal there is Gatineau which is the 4th biggest city of the Quebec Province.
We've crossed the bridge to visit the Canadian museum of History.
We highly recommend it ! The Grand Hall consists of a lot of HUGE totem poles dated back to the First Peoples of Canada and many artefacts showing their way of life. Great collection inside a beautiful building with many windows offering views on Parliament hill.
I've simplified a lot the history but these are the trends:
On the other floors we learnt a lot on how Canada was first populated by the Indigeneous (First Nations, Inuit and Metis) and later how French colonised it in 1534 -New France and its colony Arcadia- followed by the British who defeated France during the Seven's years war. Both countries have been inspired by First People's fur and developed fur trade with Europe. Started collaborating with indigenous they later on assimilated them...
The history is really similar to the Australian one, just 200 years earlier.
In 1867, provinces from Canada decided to get united under what we call now Canada to resist American influence and expansion.
2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of Canada , what a good year to come here :)
Super interesting !
Another day we took a day trip with Claire-Marine to visit Merrickville and Almonte, 2 nice little towns with some local arts and crafts shops where I wanted to buy everything. We even had a demonstration of glass blowing! (and we found out that she had an axe in our car!!! She became so Canadian ;)
She also organised for us a visit of the Shopify Hearquarter in Ottawa. A great start-up with an amazing office and an impressive company culture (as per the free food and design of the office ;) )
We've also been lucky to celebrate Jeremy's birthday with some traditional activities : curling and pub !
Well another sport I can't excel in being one of the only still falling over after a 2 hours practice ;)
Luckily I was a bit better at ice-skating!
Finally we had the opportunity to try the local food: pancakes & Poutine (some French fries with gravy sauce). Really rich to survive the Canadian winter.
A great stay with our friends Claire-Marine and Jeremy in a nice city which is great during winters and summers as it offers a lot of different activities ! We will be back during winter this time to experience the real Canadian winter (-25 degrees ; -8 is not winter as per our Canadian friends !)