A Travellerspoint blog

Day at the Museum

overcast 17 °C
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Day 41 Tuesday 26 October – Day at the Museum

The day is overcast and there's some fog about but there is little to no wind and the forecast temperature is for about 14 to 17. After breakfast we head off to the city, the arrangement is for David to drop us off and then return to pick us up again at 3 pm. That wonderful man will drive a total of 4 hours in traffic so that we can have 4 hours in the museum.

We visited the Canadian Museum of Civilisation, a museum like no other that we've seen anywhere. It is located on the banks of the river across from the Parliament. The structure from the outside is interesting but what is inside was far beyond our expectation.

We started with level 3 – a journey across Canada from East to West. The exhibit starts with the visitation by the Vikings, the early settlements and their struggles to turn salt marshes into farming lands. The important Cod fisheries and early Whaling are all presented in life-sized settings with detailed descriptions and artefacts of the period displayed. One of the things that was most unusual was that very little was hidden behind glass an absolute bonus for taking pictures,

Through to the fur trade and a recreated New French square complete with Inn, Boot-maker and a Hospital. All displayed and constructed in great detail. The growth of the timber industry and through the British Military presence to the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway and its impact on the development Westward. From the station a boxcar leads to the grain elevator of the prairies and an exquisite Orthodox Church that is still used on occasions.

The advent of the Unions and a re-created Chinese Laundry leads onto a small school-house of the era and the discovery of oil in Alberta about 1920. The exhibit takes on an almost modern air as we arrive in an airport departure lounge depicting the uniforms and aircraft of Canada Pacific Air “Gateway to the Orient”. We exit through the Wildcat Cafe which provides a glimpse of life in the harsh Northern Regions even today.

We'd spent an hour and could have spent a full day, there were no straight lines and lots of nooks and crannies to look at and into. The 'feel' of the floor changed with the era including uneven cobbles through to rough timber and carpet. Totally awesome experience.
Level 4 paid homage to the prominent men and women of Canada through its history. We walked quite quickly through this floor as the names and faces were not known to us. A break for lunch in the excellent Cafeteria and a quick stroll outside to take in some of the views.

Level 1 has an impressive hall that stretches from end to end and is four stories high. It houses the artefacts of the 'First Nations' and has a large number of totem poles displayed there. We spent some time exploring the four different houses, each representative of the different regions of the Pacific Coast peoples. Fifteen minutes in each was not enough time to read all the inscriptions or listen to the narratives or watch the Audio/Visuals in the little theaters.

We then meandered through the First Peoples Hall containing both original and recreated clothing, shelter, tools and hunting implements all set against beautiful backgrounds. Again there were detailed descriptions and explanations. By this time we had become quite adapt at focusing on the English text, it was on the right, French on the left. Reluctantly we couldn't stop to examine all the exhibits in detail.

On to Level 2 – the entry level – for the Canada Post exhibit, every stamp ever issued is displayed in a dimmed room and they provide magnifying glasses to examine them in detail. Yes, the lights come on so that you can see them. Post boxes from the past, activities associated with stamp collecting (I forget the word) and activities for kids.

That brought us into the Children’s Museum – kids could spend a week here, we could have spent hours but didn't have the time. One section was a scaled down theatre complete with ticket office, stage and dressing rooms behind the stage. Dress-up costumes are provided and the wardrobe mistress was a delight to talk to.

We had well and truly filled the four hours and there were many parts we had not visited but our chariot was due and we followed yet another route back to Manotick. In part we followed the Ottawa River along a broad divided parkway. David expressed his concern that it may be destroyed by a plan to use it as a light rail corridor.

Back at base we relax for a while and then join a neighbour for 5ish, a drink, a chat and some savoury nibbles at about 5 pm, very civilised and most enjoyable. Back for peanuts and drinks while Linda finishes the diner preparations. By about 8:30 we are well and truly ready for bed.

More activities planned for Wednesday.

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Posted by greynomadm 04:39 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

Rest Day & Manotick

overcast 12 °C
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Day 39 Sunday 24 October – a Change of Pace

The weather is cold and wet and has dictated the cancellation of planned activities. We've spent most of the day swapping stories, checking out Linda's quilting passion and sorting out the ailments of the world. Throw in three leisurely meals and time has passed quite quickly.

David went out and hired two DVDs and we spent a fair part of the afternoon watching “No Country for Old Men” - not a film I'd have chosen. It is certainly different to anything I've ever watched. Very comfortable sitting around the open fire in easy chairs. Low energy great comfort easy day.

No photos today.

Day 40 Monday 25 October – Housekeeping Day

Grey, cold, wet and not very nice outside today. After breakfast the Edeys went off to cast their vote in municipal elections. They vote for a mayor, a councillor and school board governor, all quite different to what we're used to.

Jenny did the laundry thing and I booked accommodation for our one night in Montreal. After a relaxed lunch the sun made a tentative appearance and Jen and I decided to walk to the village and have a look around. There's not a whole lot to the place but it would be about the size of Moruya without the formality. Speciality shops dominate the main street and present an array of architectural styles.

On our way back it started to rain again and just as we arrived back at base, David was backing out the car, he was on his way to find us and bring us in from the rain. What thoughtful and caring folks.

After diner the conversation turned to 'Loons', the bird on their $1 coin. What an elegant striking looking creature it is. Linda regaled us with the story of when they rescued a Loon up at their cottage on the lake. Quite incredible.
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Posted by greynomadm 04:27 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Ottawa - Parliament and Pumpkins

sunny 6 °C
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Day 38 Saturday 23 October – the Parliament Building

A leisurely start to the day as we wait for a light fog to burn off. Into Manotick for breakfast at the Miller's Oven where local high school students work under limited adult supervision to prepare a range of breakfast options. Proceeds of the venture are donated to various community projects. Having been suitably refuelled we start the sightseeing day with a visit to the florist across the street, The range of floral and decorative items available is unbelievable for such a small establishment.

The sun is now fully awake and we head into the centre of Ottawa where Linda finds us a free all day parking spot close to our destination. We are off to visit the Houses of Parliament, A most impressive building, flanked on either side by some of the government offices. The buildings are constructed in the style of a cathedral of massive carved stone portals and copper roofs. We queue up to book a tour of the building and find our way through the security check to queue up for the visit to the Peace Tower. The queue is long and slow and a change of plan has us outside.

The Parliament is set on a bluff overlooking the Ottawa river and provides a vantage point over many other significant structures. David explains that many of the unattractive waterfront areas have been progressively cleaned up. The views are spectacular.

Onto the queue to start the tour and through security again. First stop is the foyer to the Lower House and the many features are pointed out. For the benefit of the many foreign visitors there is also an explanation of how the members are elected and how the government is formed. There is only limited access to the Lower House but sufficient to see the member's benches and the Speakers chair.

Next stop is the Parliamentary Library, a structure that survived the fire that destroyed the first Parliament Building. It is quite awesome, being light and airy and contrasts with the sombre dark interior of the main building. The Senate is next and I find out to my surprise that Senators are appointed by the Government of the day and serve until they choose to retire or age 75 – no elections to face !!

At the completion of the tour we line up for the lift to the Peace Tower from where much of Ottawa is spread out below us. Back on level 2 we spend some time in the Hall of Remembrance where a series of hand inscribed books record the names of the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died for their country. Each day a page is turned, it will take a long time for all the pages to be revealed.

Time for a late lunch and we head off to the Markets. Along the way we are confronted by hundreds of University Students partaking in the annual Zombie Walk. Neither David nor Linda can explain this. The participants are made up with gross facial disfigurements or other bizarre decorations. The markets display a bewildering array of pumpkins, squashes and gourds. The spirit of Halloween has certainly kicked in. There are also regular food items and interesting vegetables like purple cauliflower in addition to a yellow and the white variety.

Back to the car and just for good measure, we stop at the road-side market to look at the truckloads of pumpkins for sale. The county must be awash with pumpkins. Back home Linda works her regular magic and we enjoy an excellent diner. We review plans for the remainder of the stay and will book accommodation in Quebec and Montreal tomorrow. Big day, early night, rain predicted for tomorrow, we'll see what we can do. So much to see, so little time.

I'm writing this in the pre-dawn hours, haven't been this busy in a long time.
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Posted by greynomadm 04:47 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Rideau Waterway

semi-overcast 10 °C
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Day 37 Friday 22 October – the Rideauy Waterway (Canal)

Best night's sleep since leaving home, the bed is great, the room totally dark and absolute silence. Wake up to the sound of Canada Geese on the river. A leisurely breakfast watching the birds at the bird feeder and the occasional appearance of a cheeky black squirrel.

We head off to explore the locks on the Rideau River which flows from Rideay Lake to the Ottawa River. We drove though some of the prettiest countryside with numerous little communities along the way, The locks are still operational during the summer season. They are all manually operated but are used only for leisure craft. There are historic old mills and lock-keeper's houses.

We stopped for lunch in Merrickville, a beautiful small town with many buildings dating back to the mid 1800's. Then further South to Opinicon Resort on one of the lakes which forms the Rideau Canal. Next we visited Perth which is also a one-time mill town linked to the Canal.

Throughout the day we saw lots and lots of pumpkins and other decorations in preparation for Halloween. We return to Manotick along the western shore of the Rideau River and passed a number of fields with thousands of orange pumpkins being collected for sale.

Arrived 'home' as the sun is setting and within minutes Linda has an excellent meal on the table. I just hope we can keep up with this wonderful hospitality.

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Posted by greynomadm 03:47 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

Toronto and on to Fallowfield

sunny
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Day 34 Tuesday 19 October – Toronto

Much to our surprise we were able to book into a room at 10 this morning. We were allocated a King Size room on the 11th floor in the East Wing of the Royal York. After checking out the room we joined the Sightseeing Bus for a two hour tour of Toronto. I tried to take photos but wasn't too successful.

After returning to the hotel we set off to find a clothing store that had been recommended. We found “Mark's Work WearHouse” in the Eaton Centre. Jenny was looking for a black cardigan and I wanted to replace a zipped jacket. We found both items and were offered some impressive discounts. My Jacket was $60 and Jen's cardigan was marked at $45. We walked out having paid $70 (plus $10 tax). For those who know me, you'd understand why I was a happy chap.

The fact that marked prices DO NOT include tax continues to be one of the most tricky features of Canada and most likely Europe when we get there. You mentally add up the price of your items, pull out the change and it just isn't enough
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We stopped at the food court in the Eaton Centre and had 'stromboli' slice and roll. We exited through the Hudson Bay Coy and were captivated by their Christmas decorations. Wandering around we came across the link to the PATH, it is a series of subterranean corridors connecting numerous basement shopping galleries of significant hotels and office towers. With a little advice from shop assistants we were able to find our way back to our hotel without having to worry about the weather or traffic.

Day 35 Wednesday 20 October – Toronto

Visited the VIA Ticketing Counter at the Union Station to convert our rail voucher to a real ticket for out rail trip to Fallowfield tomorrow. Also confirmed that all luggage is 'carry on' and there are no reserved seats. Witnessed the queue of passengers for the Ottawa train. At 9 am there were over 50 people in the queue for the 9:30 train.

Found the Post Office in the Shoppers Drug Mart and bought another carton, back to the hotel and filled it, addressed it and sealed it. Back to post it to Oz for $22.26 Canadian. We spent the next few hours walking East of Union Station to the CN Tower. It is amazing how far you can walk without breaking out into the open.

Back underground to the PATH to find somewhere for brunch, we'd have no difficulty if we were looking for a Starbucks, there was one on BOTH ends of a food court. Another interesting phenomena is the length of the queues that form outside a popular food outlet or coffee option.

After brunch we happened upon a Rock Mountains Chocolate Factory, they also sold ice-creams and I calculated that I could buy a half litre bucket for less than a three scoop cone. She even threw in some spoons to eat it. Had to do that before it melted. Jenny was suitably disgusted.

Bought some fruit and wandered back to the hotel where we relaxed, me typing this blog, Jen sort of watching TV with both eyes closed.
Used Skype to catch up with the family and had a long chat. Packed the bags ready for tomorrow's departure.

Day 36 Thursday 21 October – To Fallowfield

We're ready to go well ahead of time so we actually spent time reading the paper !! Checked out of the hotel and crossed the street to Union Station, not an easy task with thousands of people streaming in the opposite direction. The trains must be popular based on the number of commuters that use them.

We line up in the queue and I guard the luggage while Jen goes off to find something for breakfast. We are travelling 'Economy Class' so no frills like a dedicated departure lounge with seats and refreshments. At about 9 we follow the 'Business Class' passengers onto the train. There is storage for our oversized baggage so that relieves a concern. The train is very comfortable and moves at a fair old clip. We try at taking photos of the agricultural land but the results are less than spectacular.

We arrive at Fallowfield about 15 minutes early and wait for our contact to arrive. As promised, David arrives at the appointed time and we head off to Manotick. Linda and David make us most welcome and we talk about many things in front of a log fire. So relaxing we feel quite at home. A lovely diner followed by a one hour aerial overview of Canada. It has obviously been filmed at the best time of the year but what a spectacular show. They have prepared an outline schedule for us and it looks like we'll be kept busy for the time we are here.

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Posted by greynomadm 18:19 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

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