Ottawa, I have visited you 5 times. 1983, 1991, 1999, 2009,and 2015. I love that you remain the staid old lady, not much change, unlike Toronto, the NYC of Canada! The skyscrapers that have taken over Toronto city, changed its skyline and the traffic is horrendous. Yet the green places abound, the Lake Shore drive is a pleasure. But back to my favorite city in Canada, Ottawa. I have seen it in the depths of winter when the Rideau River is frozen over and people are skating on it. The Ice Festival near the Parliament buildings is a spectacular sight, unforgettable! In summer, the city envelops one with its warmth, the sun shine makes up for the dreich winter months of snow and ice. Spring, yes I have been twice in May and again, Ottawa never disappoints. The Tulip Festival and Writer's Festival are held during spring. I did attend the Writer's Festival in 2009. A small but well organised Festival that brings in local talent and famous Canadian writers too.
The Tulip Festival in May 2009, was superb but the tulips were in bud when I went there early, this year I was able to see them at their best, blooming marvellous! "The Canadian Tulip Festival is a celebration founded on international friendship with the 1945 presentation of 100,000 tulip bulbs from Princess Juliana of the Netherlands to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, given in appreciation of the safe haven that members of Holland’s exiled royal family received during World War II in Ottawa and in recognition of the role which Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands."
How wonderful to celebrate that gesture every year, so one never forgets!
There was a carnival atmosphere, whole families out for the day and enjoying the bright sunshine.
But what excites me about Canada is the familiar yet different aspect of the country. Coming from Glasgow, Scotland, I am reminded by every street name, town name of the origins of this country. Wiki: "Scottish Canadians are people of Scottish descent or heritage living in Canada. As the third-largest ethnic group in Canada and among the first to settle in Canada, Scottish people have made a large impact on Canadian culture since colonial times."
No, I'm not forgetting the First Nation People's too and some cities do have the names still. My very short poem pays homage to them.
The land of the bison, moose and bear in pristine beauty
Thundering rivers, azure lakes lapping and rippling on shores,
Maple trees spreading sweetness and splendoured shade
Bounteous nature sacred to the First Nation Peoples
This ancient land whispers its secrets to man, every season.
But Glasgow, Renfrew, Aberdeen, Perth, Dundee, Houston, almost all the towns and cities of Scotland have a connection here. Names that are so familiar that one feels at home. Then you look at the achievements of this great country and marvel at the Scots of yore who made it happen and feel a sense of pride.
The other wonderful aspect of my trip to North America is to witness how the very successful Indians of my own heritage have contributed to this country. Canadian immigration rules were changed to allow more skilled people to arrive since 1967. The skilled arrived in droves and have settled and contributed to this country. Toronto is said to be the most diverse city in the world and live harmoniously. Just as the Scots arrived centuries ago, the Indians are doing the same, building a secure and prosperous future.
Finally a wonderful website that helps me as a writer to know Canada better, 100 Canadian novels :
Of course none of this could have happened without my sweet lil sister who lives in Ottawa and makes my trips there a real treat! This time she took me up to Val Morin, in the Laurentian Mountains to see an Indian Temple and a Yoga Ashram. It was perfect bliss, a spot so beautiful that one feels drawn to nature. I am truly blessed. Thank you dear sister.