Colors and Flavors

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:

It meanders through town, and at the foot of my parents’ street it forms a little inlet, near the Vietnamese Embassy:



(The Embassy:)

One of the best things about the canal is it’s Hans Brinker-like transformation in wintertime into the world’s longest skating rink — lots of civil servants skate to work.

But I’m pushing the season a bit here. Here are three flashy maple trees down on the corner:

I think the pattern and colors of the leaves on the sidewalk are stunning:

A few snaps of downtown Ottawa: The cathedral seen through an outdoor Louise Bourgeois sculpture across the street at the Nation Gallery of Canada:

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:




Filed under Food, History, Home, The Great Outdoors

7 responses to “Colors and Flavors

  1. Kim McKellar

    My uncle is the most handsome gentleman on the whole planet… and the fries look great too.

  2. Patty

    What a beautiful tour after a long day here. Thanks for the pictures, what a lovely city. Yes, the frites look super good, worth a trip there just for those. I think I should like the vinegar and salt!

  3. Bev

    Double boo on you know who! Loved everthing about your trip report and pictures..I miss the colours so much. I was afraid you’d forget the pics of the frites..ketchup..sacrilege..thanks a million Maggie!!

  4. What a grand way to spend a Fall day!! Your Daddy is just the handsomest guy—and your descriptions of his kindness and his intellect—that’s a sure combination, every time.

    I loved the shapes and the colors, and the leaves are spectacular—several of the grand trees on our street have cast their glory onto the sidewalk, and so our morning walk just now consisted of a great lot of swishing our feet, just for the fun of it—it’s just what you DO.

    And a “just fries” lunch—that’s my kind of roadfood! I cannot imagine how you ate across the table from whoever was consuming that bloody bag of frites—I hope you didn’t kiss him right after.

    rachel—fellow potato purist

  5. Bill S

    Not only is your dad the smartest and most handsome…he is also the nicest man. He was, without question, a favorite of my mother and grandmother and still is of mine.

  6. Kim Shook

    I really thought that I’d posted a reply to this post already. What a beautiful city! Canada needs to be our next vacation destination! It’s amazing that someplace so lovely is within driving distance of us! Thanks for sharing, Miss Maggie!

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