The maple leaf is the graphic emblem of Canada, the centerpiece of its flag, and the glory of its Octobers. (It’s also the name of a certain NHL hockey franchise that’s loathed by people born in Quebec, like me. Boo!) I’m going to wind up my Ottawa tour with some colors, some history and some food.
A canal runs through it. Ottawa was founded by Colonel By, a British military engineer, and it was once called Bytown. His masterpiece, the Rideau Canal, opened in 1832, and connects Ottawa, on the Ottawa River, to Kingston on Lake Ontario through a series of stone locks that work just fine to this day. It’s raison d’etre was to be an alternate shipping and defense route should the Yanks get another itch to invade Canada, and UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage site. Here’s where it begins in Ottawa, near the Parliament Buildings:
I think the pattern and colors of the leaves on the sidewalk are stunning:
The Victorian Gothic Revival Parliament Buildings:
Let’s stroll a few blocks from the seat of power to the Byward Market, perhaps the longest running Farmer’s Market in North America — well, over a hundred years. The farmers who have stands must grow their good stuff within thirty miles of Ottawa, and mostly on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. I love being hailed with a “Bonjour, Madame!”
OK, I’m going to try to do a writerly summing up: family, nature and food. On our first weekend we crossed the river into Quebec, and drove into the glory of the hills and the fall color on the Gatineau Parkway. Several thousand other people had the same good idea, and I hope they were as blissed out as I was by the golden glory of the leaves and the hills. Here’s the Huron Lookout:
And here are the money shots for frites lovers. I maintain that dollar for dollar a frite stand in Quebec offers the greatest french fries the the world — crisp on the outside, and tasting deeply of potato on the inside. When you see the closeup you’ll figure out who got them with ketchup — Canadians prefer white vinegar and salt only.
Daddy picking them up at the frite stand:
You really should have been there: