Some quick thoughts on this week’s events in Ottawa, even though I’m currently far away.
It was strange seeing downtown Ottawa on my TV screen here. Not so much seeing the Parliament Buildings or the War Memorial, but the downtown streets. Being able to recognize the corner of Metcalfe and Slater, with its three coffee shops (Starbucks, Second Cup and Tim Hortons) or the Post Office at Sparks street, with its giant lion sculptures or that Anderson Cooper was standing on Elgin street as the transitway buses buzzed behind him was strange. Downtown Ottawa is so small, it’s really easy to recognize all of its features.
When you meet new people over here, the first conversation always follows the same script. They ask me where I’m from (or sometimes assume I’m American), to which I reply Canada. When they ask me where in Canada, I usually say Ottawa. More often than not, they’ve never heard of it. Sometimes I pronounce it as it would look to an eastern European “Oh-Tah-Vah to help. I usually get a blank stare or a fake “oh yeah!
For the next little while, I’m pretty sure I won’t have this problem.
My biggest takeaway from this terrible story is that I hope Parliament Hill remains as accessible as always.
It would be a shame if this lone wolf ruined a great thing. I hope to be able to walk around to the back of the building, looking out on the great views across the Ottawa river and that the front lawn remains open to the public, yoga classes and dogs forever. It’s nice that no matter what time you happen to stroll up to the Centennial Flame (I’ve been there pretty late at night), you can find a few people hanging around. Even in winter.
That level of accessibility is pretty unique. I hope we haven’t lost it.