Courier October Courier - Page 23

Two takes on Canada

Centre Block at Parliament Hill in Ottawa
Two of your Courier writers headed north for some summer touring to check out Canada during its 150th anniversary celebration . Gabe Webb was in Ottawa and Pat Henderson explored Winnipeg .
In addition to connecting with some very friendly Fam trip hosts and diving into each destination ’ s rich history , they were able to experience unique aspects of local culture . Read on to learn more about a giant mechanical spider and a fire-breathing dragon that roamed the Ottawa streets , a city-wide celebration that shined a light on Winnipeg ’ s multiethnic heritage , a “ Da Vinci Code ” -esque tour at the Manitoba Legislative Building and much more .

A place to stand , a place to grow ( and go )

PROVINCIAL PRIDE was in full swing at Expo 67 , a World ’ s Fair held in Montréal during the 100th anniversary year of Canada ’ s confederation . At the Ontario Pavilion , a film showing scenes of the province ’ s natural beauty and man-made industry was accompanied by a rollicking song : “ Give us a place to stand and a place to grow , and call this land Ontario . A place to live for you and me , with hopes as high as the tallest tree .”
In late July , I visited Ottawa for a Fam organized by Ottawa Tourism . Fifty years removed from that song beckoning the world with a chorus of “ Ontari-ari-ari-o ,” I saw a city and country marking another milestone . Throughout 2017 , the nation ’ s capital has welcomed special events as part of the Canada 150 celebrations .
The impetus for my visit was one such celebration , the arrival of La Machine , a French “ street theater ” company making its North American debut . The group is most famous for building enormous , mechanical creatures , which are piloted by teams of performers . From when I arrived on Thursday through the weekend , La Machine ’ s two-story-tall dragon and spider ( named Long Ma and Kumo , respectively ) paraded through the streets , accompanied by thousands of captivated onlookers .
When I landed in Ottawa , I was surprised to learn that Kumo was “ sleeping ” about a block from my hotel , in advance of his debut procession later that night . I was staying at the Lord Elgin Hotel , and I was greeted by Amber Van Der Hoeven , the property ’ s tour and travel sales manager , at check-in .
“ Tour groups are an important part of our business , and we take pride in that ,” says Van Der Hoeven . “ Our guests come from all corners of the world , and we are proud Ottawa ambassadors .”
For tour groups , the hotel offers special menus , buffets or boxed breakfasts for early departures , as well as complimentary on-site parking for up to four motorcoaches . City parking passes are available for purchase at the front desk , which also has maps to nearby lots .
“ The Lord Elgin is a well-oiled machine that has hosting motorcoach groups down to a science ,” says Van Der Hoeven . “ We make it fast and simple because we have been doing it for 76 years .”
The 355-room chateauesque hotel is located in the heart of downtown , across the street from Confederation Park . From my room , I had a view of that green space and Long Ma ’ s resting spot in front of city hall . However , my date with the dragon would have to wait .
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