Sunday, June 20, 2010

Grab your paddle and drum...

This weekend was the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival. It takes place on Mooney's Bay which is about a 10 minute walk from my place. I decided to head down earlier today to see what it was all about. WOW! The event had taken over the park with various vendors, live entertainment with beer garden and a tent city for all the participating teams.

I found my way to the bleachers on the beach and sat down to watch the races where I noticed a group doing Tai Chi. In amongst the hussel and bussle, these 20 or so people were doing their best to bring a little peace and tranquility to the event!

I watched the 100 m final race which was pretty much over in about 20 or so secods. The photo below shows all the boats lined up at the start line - I tried for a finish line shot but unfortunately in the excitment of things, it didn't happen.

Between races I decided to wander around the site a bit more. In my travels I came across the team staging tent where groups go to wait for their race to start. I wish I took a video as the teams waiting were performing cheers and getting ready to race.

I decided to wander to the food vendors and grab a bite to eat before heading back to the bleachers to watch some more races. As I sat down with my food, raindrops began to fall. At first it wasn't a big deal, but then it started to pour, I mean like buckets. The crowd all fled for cover and I managed to find a spot under a nearby tree so I could continue to watch the races. I can only imagine what it was like for the racers out on the lake caught in the down pour!

Once the rain had died and I'd had enough of watchin the races, I wandered over to the beer garden to check out the live entertainment.

Can anyone name the band in the photo below?

It's 54/40. I last saw them about 14 years definitely a blast from the past. I stayed for a few songs but decided to head back home before the rain got out of control again (and so I could catch the World Cup Brazil vs. Cote-d'Ivoire football match).



Reunion! (Reliving my Rotaract/Western Days)

For several years, I was an active member of the Rotaract Club at Western. I made some great friends and had been missing the comradery during my internship.

This past Friday I had the chance to relive a bit of the fun with a mini-reunion in Toronto. I left right from work and headed south on the 401. Four or so hours later, I made it to the hotel. The main event of our evening was sponsored by Alumni Western and featured none other than Rick McGhie, a local London musician who has been serenading Western students for over 30 years. We were entertained by Rick in the roundhouse at Steam Whistle Brewery just across from the CN Tower. All was going swimmingly (apart from one missing friend who was trying to make it through the terrible post Jays game traffic) until mid-way through the song Layla when all the lights went off!

At first we thought it was a blown fuse at the brewery, but we soon found out other buildings by us were also affected (i.e. the CN tower)! We headed out to the patio and a few minutes later we were imformed that the city was experiencing rolling brown outs and that the event could not continue because the fire alarm system needed power to work. This was a HUGE bummer for us and we were just about to head to get in line to have our unused drink tickets refunded when the lights came back on! YAY!!! Needless to say those who were still present (about 70% of the original group) had a great time singing along with Rick for the rest of the evening. Our missing friend joined us shortly after power was restored and finally we were together to celebrate at last!

The next morning warranted a large greasy breakfast at none other than Fran’s Restaurant. While we did have a few issues with our meal, overall the food was good. If I can offer any advice, the portions are BIG so think conservatively when ordering.

We said our goodbyes after brunch and I hopped back in the car to head back home. In no particular rush I decided to take a few detours. The first was in Colborne at a place I’d wanted to go to for I’d say close to 20 years! For those who have travelled on highway 401 between Toronto and Kingston, you will see the HUGE red apple on the south side of the highway. I’ve travelled past this big apple numerous times and have never (that I can recall) stopped to see it close up. That has now changed! I am happy to report that I can now strike this off my to-do list. Photographic evidence of this visit can be seen below.

Besides my detour to see the apple, I also decided to veer off the 401 a bit and take a little drive around Prince Edward County travelling through Wellington and Picton. This is BEAUTIFUL country and there are more than a few wineries along Hwy 33. I’d love to go back and stay at one of the many inns or B&B’s I saw and visit some of the vineyards and partake in the Taste Trail.

My final detour was travelling along the 1000 Island Parkway which is also a very scenic ride. While it may have taken me an extra hour or so to get back to Ottawa, as I’ve said before, the journey is often just as important as the destination.


Doors Open Ottawa

This is the second year that I attended Doors Open in Ottawa. I ended up going on the Sunday this year and as a result, wasn't able to make it to some of the locations I had wanted to see as they were only open on Saturday.

The US Embassy participated in the event this year although interested visitors had to submit an electronic request to be pre-screened for admittence to the embassy. I happily went to the US Embassy's website only to find out that the tours were now closed as all spots for the tours were filled! It was clearly a popular location and I have no doubt that MANY people would have liked to visit this building. I later overheard two ladies chatting about this on my bus-ride into work the following week. The one lady was complaining that those who likely got to visit the embassy were diplomats or family members who were alerted to the need to apply online long before the general public were informed. I have no idea on the validity of this statement but found it quite interesting none-the-less.

Besides the US Embassy, I had wanted to stop by the French Embassy as well but also was dissapointed to find out that it was closed on Sunday.

I still managaged to make a great afternoon of it however and toured three locations: Laurier House, the Canada Post Ottwa processing plant and Watson's Mill in Manotick.

Laurier House is a national historic site located in downtown Ottawa. The house was home to two of Canada's Prime Ministers - Sir Wilfred Laurier and the Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King.

A view of Laurier House from the outside:

This is the third floor library/office where Mackenzie-King spent much of his time. It is said that he preferred his office at Laurier House to the one he had on Parliment Hill. Security of the prime minister was of course paramount and during the second world war, even more so. On the main floor of the building there is a room which housed a RMCP officer around the clock. During the Lauriers' time, it was used as a closet so you can imagine then its size!

From Laurier House I headed to the Canada Post processing plant. It was really interesting to actually see how our mail gets sorted and then delivered from all over the country. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take photos inside. I do recommend this tour if the plant participates next year, especially if you have children!

From Canada Post I headed to the town of Manotick, a very pituresque town located along the Rideau River. While it may be about 15km out of town, it is still considered part of the city of Ottawa.

Watson's Mill, a flour and seed mill located in Manitock, was built in 1860 and is celebrating it's 150th anniversary this year. The mill is still in operation today and I do recommend a visit to see not only the mill, but the town of Manitock itself. There is a cute little tea room that I spotted and some very nice little shops around the mill.

This is a photo of the inside of the mill. You are able to travel from the "basement" where you can see the turbines in action down at waters level right up to the third floor where the series of levers and spindles work to turn the grinding stone to make the flour.

The mill itself has a gift shop where you can purchase flour ground at the mill or if you prefer a little less work, whole wheat bread made from this flour. I chose the latter option and was not disappointed - YUM! :-)



Ottawa Marathon

This is a HUGE event in Ottawa every year. In fact, a number of races are spread over the course of a few days to make up Ottawa Race Weekend. I wasn't able to attend the race last year and so it was defintiely on my list of things to see and do upon moving to Ottawa.

While I didn't get to see the events on Saturday, I did manage to catch the marathon just down the road from where I live on Sunday morning.

The race started bright and early from downtown (I belive around 7:00 am)and made it's way down along the canal and then back into the downtown core. My vantage point was down by Hogs Back and Mooney's Bay, close to Carleton University which I believe was around the 30 km mark.

I grabbed a coffe and headed down to see the race. It was quiet for the first 10 or so minutes - the elite runners had gone past (the ones that were expected to finish in 2.5 hours or less) but the vast majority of racers were on their way.

I was esepcially interested in seeing if I could get a photo or two of a friend's brother-in-law who was running in the race. A single-leg amputee, Rick Ball was attempting to beat his own world record of a sub-three hour marathon time. I was beginning to worry that I'd actually missed him as well when low and behold I see him in the distance. I was able to snap this shot of him before he whizzed by!

I am happy to report that Rick did beat his previous record and set a new one of 2:57:49! Amazing!

I also ventured up the road a little to take in a bit of the water station activity. They had a ton of volunteers which turned out to be very necessary. As you can see by the photo below, things got quite busy! The fellow in the middle of the photo wearing the hat with pink ears is what they call a "pace bunny". His sign shows his pace, so the runners around him would be aiming to run the race in 3 hours and 15 minutes.

While it was a bit of an overcast day and cooler than expected, I'm told this was perfect running weather, especially for a marathon distance of 42 kilometers!



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sunday Bikedays

Sunday bikedays on Colonel by Drive. Rideau Canal and bikepath on left.

Every Sunday from 9am-1pm from the middle of May to mid-September, several roadways in Ottawa are closed and open to pedestrian and cyclists. My first weekend here was the opening day of this weekly event and decided what better way to see a bit more of the city (and get some exercise at the same time)?

Fortunately enough for me, one of the roads that is closed is literally just around the corner from where I am living. I made my way down to the bike room, hopped on my bike and started off on my way with all the other bikers...and there were lots of them!

It was so wonderful to see entire families out enjoying the great weather and being active. Perhaps I'm just more aware, but I do notice a HUGE difference in the physical activity level of Ottawa citizens as compared to other cities I've been. The city seems to be much more accommodating when it comes to getting around with a bicycle - and just affirms my belief on how your built environment can promote (or prevent) being active.

But enough ranting, back to my lovely cycle ride. I hadn't traveled more than 5 minutes when I realized that something was amiss. My bike was making some funky squeaking sound that would not go away, no matter how many times I changed gears. In amongst all these other riders, I was beginning to feel quite self conscious about this horrible squeak. I was EXTREMELY fortunate that there was a little tent set up with a few guys offering simple tune-ups for bikers. It turns out that my bike's back breaks had shifted (likely from the moving process) and were pressing against my wheel! After a quick modification to this and some more air in my tires I was off again - - on what felt like a completely new bike!

It was a wonderful ride - I had the chance to head all the way downtown and back riding along side the Rideau canal. It was a great way to spend my first full weekend in Ottawa.



Sunday, June 6, 2010


After 12 months of stress, long days, moments where I wanted to throw in the towel and yes, even a few tears, I made it through internship! School is done and I've got my temporary licence to practice. Save for those who have actually gone through the same process, I really don't think the general public appreciate how thrilling it was for me to write the letters RD behind my name for the first time!

Perhaps it is somewhat fitting that I have returned to the place where I started my internship to begin my professional life. If you look back to the entries from May of last year, you will have a change to see how I viewed Ottawa through the eyes of an intern. It is most definitely those experiences which lead to my deciding to seek work in this city.

Having been here just over three weeks now, I wanted to find a way to keep friends and family updated on how things are going. The idea of resurrecting this blog came to me a few days ago and I've finally had a chance to get things rolling.

So welcome back to those who followed this last year! I'm hoping to update as time permits. Since I've been here I've already done so much - been to Montreal, watched the Ottawa Marathon, explored the city and attended Doors Open. I've got lots of stories and some photos too so, stay tuned!



Monday, September 14, 2009

And so it begins again...

I started a new placement today working in the community. While in a way I am going to miss the freedom of research weeks, I do welcome a more structured schedule.

Today was a day of introductions and discussion on what it is I will be doing. This took up a great portion of the morning (well all of it actually).

The afternoon was spent getting prepping for a program that was running tonight. The program pairs local chefs together with teens giving this group exposure to cooking (among other things). I attended the actually cooking portion of the evening and had a chance to see how things ran. The evening wrapped up around 8:30 pm thereby concluding my first day (nothing like a solid first day at work)!

Working downtown shall definitely be an interesting if only I could find a cheap place to park...!