My expression of excitement to be in Ottawa is one thing, but the joy I felt toward spending the majority of a day on Canada’s Parliament Hill was on a whole other level.
During secondary school travels I’d learned to appreciate Canadian culture and to know when i’m in the presence of outstanding architectural beauty. However, nothing could’ve surprised me more than what magic was contained between the walls of Parliament’s Centre Block.
Two days prior to my adventures inside Parliament, I’d had the opportunity express the ouus and ahhs while wandering the grounds of the hill. Perhaps it was naive to expect its outside appearance was as good as it gets.
Not unlike many of my social encounters… I immediately flirted with the doorman. He’d whole-heartedly greeted me to Canada’s Parliament, at last. Much to my credit, I cheekily exclaimed he had won the Movember competition. Looking back his moustache was comparable to that of a young Albert Einstein. Without the salt ‘n pepper highlights of course.
Thanks to a new friend of mine, I had front row seats during Question Period that afternoon – sitting directly across from the current Conservative Government. I could not help but notice that two prominent members i’d had the opportunity to work with this past summer… had not come up for air from their cell phones more than twice during the entire QP session. Let’s just say the PR practitioner inside of me was shaking her head with disapproval.
Still on cloud nine from the reality of being present during QP, I continued on my way to join the 3:20pm ‘behind the scenes’ tour of Parliament. My tour guide, also known as Adam, resembled a younger, taller Justin Trudeau. The only thing he lacked was JT’s confident way.
Without detailing every single highlight of the tour, I’ll focus on my favourite.
To no ones surprise, I am not a quiet person. In 9 of 10 situations I have a comment, concern or joke to add. Upon entering the automatic wooden doors of The Parliament Library… this appeared to not be the case. For once, completely speechless.
Okay… prior to entering tour guide Adam had advised us the library was a ‘no-talking zone.’ But even so, I was lost for words.
The library was the only place to remain intact after the fire of 1916. It is featured in the photo i’ve included above.
In my last post labeled, “Our Nation’s Capital” I reflect on my illusions of entering Hogwarts while first wandering the yard of Parliament. Entering the library tripled the effect. Similar to Hogwarts, there was a restricted section. In this case the entire library was restricted. Aside from tours – the library is off limits to all who are not MP’s, staffers or other parliament staff.
My hopes of live-tweeting QP were quickly destroyed when security took everything on my person. Including my belt, sunglasses and scarf. The silver-lining being that I was given the opportunity to walk the senate floor. You know I took a dozen pictures too. The elderly women quickly made jokes about the Senate being where the exchange of unkind words takes place. Clearly they had not attended QP in the House of Commons an hour earlier.
When the tour had concluded I was left to wander on my own. I escaped to the Memorial Tower. A room where all of our deceased, brave, selfless Canadian Veterans, killed in the line-of-duty are named in handwritten books.
I immediately had to know if my great-grand father was named, even though he’d fallen ill during the war and left as early as it began. Not to mention, he wasn’t quite of age to be there in the first place. It’s a weird urgency one feels when you have the chance to make something a more personal experience. Even if it is something as morbid as finding the name of a deceased family-member in a war memorial.
When exiting the third floor, through barred windows – I had a secret view of the House of Commons lobby. I must admit, for a moment I imagined I was a Scottish diplomat or perhaps the Queen of England spying on the commonwealth who’d gathered to demand the grain and raw materials the state had long since promised them.
Maybe I’ve watched The Duchess and The Other Boleyn Girl one too many times.
I took my sweet, sweet time sauntering out of Parliament. I could not help but wonder if i’d missed something worth seeing. Okay… I went as far as to ask a parliament security guard if i’d missed anything. He rolled his eyes and said no. Not one bit jaded by his response i politely thanked everyone I crossed paths with – in hopes they’d remember me 5 years from now when I co-habited this building on a Monday-Friday 8-4 basis.
It wouldn’t have been a complete visit to parliament if I didn’t take a selfie with the Peace Tower, so that is exactly what I did.
The next day, my last day in Ottawa, I had to convince myself there was no need to re-visit the hill for a third time. I had taken even possible photo and seen everything I needed to see.
Until next time Ottawa.