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A first-timer takes in Canada Day in Ottawa

I’ve been lucky enough to call Canada home for 35 years now. But yesterday marked my first Canada Day in our nation’s capital.

Go figure.

It was, from start to finish, an absolute blast. The city was alive with people and colour and music and awash in red-and-white; Canada flag umbrella hats, red reindeer (I think) foam horns and plenty of prideful bits such as “Canada: Kicking Butt Since 1867.”

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t remember we Canadians (I’ve been a citizen for almost 20 years) being quite this vocal about our country until a few years ago. Again, it could be my own perspective but I really do think the Vancouver 2010 Olympics marked a sea change in the way we think about ourselves. The pride I saw on the streets during my four weeks in British Columbia in 2010 was pretty similar to what I saw yesterday; a much more American type of approach but still restrained and polite; as if we were happy to thrust our chests out and brag but that if someone had taken offence we’d have almost certainly apologized and reached into our knapsack and replaced our red and white Kicking Butt shirt with our favourite hockey jersey.

Anyway, that’s a longer than it needs to be prelude to my selection of fun photos (all taken by me) from my first Canada Day in Ottawa. If you click here, you’ll also find a link to a video I shot of the fireworks from the fantastic Fairmont Chateau Laurier. It’s one of the best places in town to watch the show, as well as being one of Canada’s best hotels.

I hope to be back in Ottawa at this time next year as part of my regular travel duties and to help celebrate the 150 best things to do in Canada, which you’ll find here on my site.

Cheers. Happy 149th to my favourite country in the world!

Not much subtlety here, but I like this guy's outfit as we got ready for the changing of the guard on Parliament Hill on Friday morning.

Not much subtlety here, but I like this guy’s outfit as we got ready for the changing of the guard on Parliament Hill on Friday morning.

Canada rocks? Damn right, we do.

Canada rocks? Damn right, we do.

You don't want the Mounties to trip on an untied shoelace on Canada Day.

You don’t want the Mounties to trip on an untied shoelace on Canada Day.

The changing of the guard ceremony is a real treat, and usually the first big show of the morning on Canada Day in Ottawa.

The changing of the guard ceremony is a real treat, and usually the first big show of the morning on Canada Day in Ottawa.

Marching bands and Mounties on horseback; how great is that?

Marching bands and Mounties on horseback; how great is that?

The crowds went nuts when this guy and his family showed up for the Canada Day festivities. Somehow I suspect Stephen Harper didn't get the same reception, at least not in later years.

The crowds went nuts when this guy and his family showed up for the Canada Day festivities. Somehow I suspect Stephen Harper didn’t get the same reception, at least not in later years.

Even the Mounties in charge of cleaning up after the horses have a smile on their face on Canada Day.

Even the Mounties in charge of cleaning up after the horses have a smile on their face on Canada Day.

Canada's Snowbirds made a loud and awe-inspiring impression as they flew over Parliament Hill.

Canada’s Snowbirds made a loud and awe-inspiring impression as they flew over Parliament Hill.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor-General of Canada David Johnston look like little boys as they admire the Snowbirds flying overhead. Good for them, I say.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor-General of Canada David Johnston look like little boys as they admire the Snowbirds flying overhead. Good for them, I say.

La Terrasse at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is a wonderful spot to enjoy dinner or a cocktail prior to the fireworks show.

La Terrasse at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is a wonderful spot to enjoy dinner or a cocktail prior to the fireworks show.

In addition to great shows on Parliament Hill, you'll find plenty of music, reasonably priced food and games for kids at Major's Hill Park, just steps from Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal.

In addition to great shows on Parliament Hill, you’ll find plenty of music, reasonably priced food and games for kids at Major’s Hill Park, just steps from Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal.

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier is an unofficial headquarters for Canada Day, a great place to gather before or after the show. It's wide, covered portico is a hugely popular place to stop during a thunderstorm, too. Crowds gathered at one point during a rainy session yesterday and engaged in an impromptu version of "Oh, Canada."

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier is an unofficial headquarters for Canada Day, a great place to gather before or after the show. It’s wide, covered portico is a hugely popular place to stop during a thunderstorm, too. Crowds gathered at one point during a rainy session yesterday and engaged in an impromptu version of “Oh, Canada.”

Top-notch performers play afternoon and evening sets on Parliament Hill for Canada Day. This year's lineup included Metric, Alex Cuba and Couer de Pirate.

Top-notch performers play afternoon and evening sets on Parliament Hill for Canada Day. This year’s lineup included Metric, Alex Cuba and Couer de Pirate.

There's nothing like a great fireworks show to finish off a Canada Day in Ottawa.

There’s nothing like a great fireworks show to finish off a Canada Day in Ottawa.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Aaron Daley 2 July 2016, 6:41 pm

    The shot of the shoe being tied is actually a Governor General Foot Guard Soldier (could also be Grenadier Guard) having his shoe tied by a Cameron Highlander Soldier. Great shots, all of them.

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