Ottawa, Ontario Friday Sept. 12 2014
Are we in Canada?? We drove over the Mississippi River today. On our drive from North Bay to Ottawa we did a double take when the sign said Mississippi River as we went on a bridge over a river. Maybe we did not read it correctly we thought. But, no, our eyes were good. There is a short Mississippi River in Ontario that feeds into the Ottawa River.
The Ottawa River is the biggie around here, with its water quantity equalling all of the water in Western Europe. It flows for about 780 miles and forms part of the border between Ontario and Quebec. It has 50 dams and 13 reservoirs on it. The U.S. Mississippi River comes from Native American term for Great River. The origin of the name for the Canadian Mississippi River is uncertain, but the river does exist.
We drove along the Ottawa River for about 300 of its 780 miles. In the upper portion, the lakes so common to this section of Ontario continued as did the forests. Finally though, we reached rolling hills with agriculture as we got closer to Ottawa.
We chose one museum to visit, the Champlain Trail Museum in Pembroke, ON. We thought it might aid us in understanding the history of Canada. Champlain was a French explorer who was one of the first to map the Canadian coast and is credited with founding Quebec City. Unfortunately, the museum was not that helpful.
There is an interesting display area about an astrolabe possibly belonging to Champlain which he supposedly lost in the area just south of Pembroke. The astrolabe found in 1867 ended up in an American’s hands and despite Canadian requests, did not end up back in Canada until 1989. There is some dispute if it was Champlain’s, in any event, it dates from that time period. (An astrolabe was used by navigators to help determine latitude and was invaluable for correctly mapping new areas to the Europeans.
We arrived in Ottawa around 4 pm at a Courtyard in downtown Ottawa. We can hear the music from the bars here in the ByWard Market area. The day had finally turned sunny and since Saturday’s forecast is for rain, we headed out to Parliament Hill to take some pictures. It appears that at least one of the three major buildings is undergoing major renovations and minor work at two others. We spent a pleasant two hours touring parts of the downtown area around Parliament. Tours will have to wait until tomorrow.
Ottawa has a population of just under 900,000 and has the look and feel of a big city; traffic, diversity, density, etc. It might be good to remind you that Canada has a population under 40,000,000; less than the population of California. However, Canada’s land size is slightly larger than the U.S. Its population density is about 1/10 that of the U.S. although neither one ranks high in that regard. No wonder we saw a lot of open space on this journey so far.
We tried to bring back our 2013 Canadian memories to help us on this trip. Besides Canadian money, it was critical to have a chip enabled credit card for purchases at gas stations and other locations. We are slowly remembering that restrooms are called washrooms. In cash transactions, the penny is ignored and the value rounded to avoid issuing penny coins. Our conversion of kilometers to miles goes well; not so great for transferring Celsius into Fahrenheit.
Our overnight stay at Nipissing University went well. When we left, a few professors were in early so the building was not completely deserted. No bear was sighted by us. We had breakfast at Tim Horton’s; a Canadian mainstay. Last year we tried one in Calgary, were not impressed, and stayed away from them for the rest of the trip. We decided to try them once more and we visited ones in North Bay for breakfast and Pembroke for a mid-day snack. Both times the food was fresh, tasty, and the stores clean.
Ed and Chris 10:15 pm 9/12/14