Ottawa Parliament buildings

Left: The main Parliament building.

Last week, as part of a training programme for a new volunteer position, I was whisked up to Ottawa aboard a surprisingly European-feeling train and introduced to the upper echelons of the circles in which I now move. I had hoped to take my evenings to wander around and explore the place, but the climate did not cooperate. Coming from the relatively temperate surrounds of Toronto, I was quite unprepared for Ottawa’s horizontal snow and inch-thick layer of ice on the pavements (this is not an exaggeration – I saw quite a few people with crampons, two car accidents and could easily have skated everywhere I needed to go). With the hideous weather effectively limiting me to indoor activities, I wrangled a temporary public library pass (having already approached the National Library and discovered that it isn’t actually a library) and caught up on some work that VIA Rail’s flimsy fold-out tables had prevented me from doing earlier on.

On my second night at my rather plush hotel, there was a break in the rain (that the snow had turned to) and I rushed out (very carefully now that the ice on the pavements was covered with a sheet of water) to take a look at the home of Stephen’s Regime. This is how I am unofficially referring to Canada’s government since the prime minister’s office dictated that all communications use the term “Harper Government” instead of “Government of Canada”. Most of the government buildings seemed pretty Londonesque to my untrained eyes, and sited with plenty of space to loom over pedestrians (land presumably being at less of a premium). I suppose that this means there’s more space for people to come and demonstrate too, should there be a suitable break in the weather.

Ottawa west blockOttawa east block

Above left: The west block Parliament building. Above right: The east block Parliament building. Below left: A lamp outside Parliament. Below centre: A tower on the east block Parliament building. Below right: The National War Memorial.

Ottawa lampOttawa east block towerNational War Memorial