It's not only the weather that improved. Our September visitors had a much easier time getting around downtown than our July visitors did. Canada Day was advertised extensively and people travelled from far and wide to be here for the July 1st birthday bash. What a blowout that was!
With the threat of terrorism, warnings of long lineups for security and a forecast of rain, we completely skipped Parliament Hill on July 1st. Instead, we went downtown the day before, when the Canada Day rehearsals were taking place on The Hill.
Having lived here most of my life, I've seen a lot of changes in security on Parliament Hill. In years gone by, wherever we had out of town visitors, we would drive them around the Hill and under the archway at the Peace Tower. Those days are long gone. I have never seen anything like this year's security- so many police officers, everywhere. After having my backpack checked, I entered the security lineup on Wellington Street at Bank St., in front of Parliament Hill. It took about 10 minutes to snake through the metal barricades.
|The metal barricades were fairly empty on June 30th|
|Specially built exit ramps from Parliament Hill|
|This year's stage came way out onto the lawn, taking up viewing space.|
|VIP viewing tents were new this year|
This past week The Ottawa Citizen ran a piece that included many tourists' complaints to Heritage Canada about their Canada Day experiences. Click here to read some tales of total frustration.
Thank goodness our family's Canada Day weekend visitors also visited Parliamen hill on June 30th. They spent Canada Day at parks and sites away from the lineups. My only outing on Canada Day was to the Rideau Canal, to watch a group of canoes paddle past, as they recreated an historic journey from Kingston.
As my mother waited with me, in the pouring rain, to catch a glimpse of my sister, we saw and heard many helicopters going over the area, probably police surveillance. My mother sadly observed that the terrorists were winning. They had succeeded in scaring the entire city, on what should have been a joyful day.
After July 1st, things seemed to improve. In mid July, when we were back on the hill for a free musical event, we didn't have to go through any security but there were a lot of police officers about, all with hands on their guns. On top of the nearby building were more police snipers.
However, then came La Machine, a gigantic robot experience from France. This was the old Ottawa, with crowds all over the place; all of us like little kids, excited to see the dragon and spider as they prowled Ottawa's streets. The crowds were thick. What was the difference? Why were we allowed to freely cram together in such huge numbers for those days and evenings? Whatever the reason, it was a welcome reprieve, after the confinement of Canada Day.
|La Machine's fiery dragon|
|Paul Henderson's winning goal|