“It was a dark and stormy night” as the cab pulled up to the building. The light from the cab shone onto the decaying brick steps looking up to the ominous building with bars on the window. We slowly walked toward the building, studying every detail. It was grey and dreary looking. The time was finally upon us: it was time to go into the prison….
…willingly! This last weekend, we went to Ottawa to explore Canada’s capitol. The hostile where we stayed was a prison that was converted to a hostile in the 70s. Upon arriving, we checked into the hostile and went out for a barbeque dinner, and then to a comedy show at Yuk-Yuks, a local comedy club. We then went back to the jail and locked ourselves in our cells for the evening.
Saturday was filled with adventure. After breakfast at the hostel, we went out to adventure. We started the morning at the parliament building. As we walked to the entrance, we were greeted by a member of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in his car. His name was Ross. He asked us where we were from, and when he found out that we were from the United States, he told us to go over to his car. As we cautiously approached the car, Ross told us that we were “special visitors” and handed each of us a pin with the Canadian flag and told us that we were now “honorary Canadians”. We discussed politics for a few minutes (both in the United States and Canada), and then went on our way to the Peace Tower, where Ross suggested we visit. The top of the Peace Tower offers a great 360 degree view of Ottawa, including the old US Embassy, which apparently was too small so they built the largest one in the world just down the street. After visiting the Peace Tower, we went back to the dorm for a jail tour. On that tour we were escorted to a trap door where prisoners were brought in from the basement, to a basement room where the Irish were left in quarantine – sometimes for months! – and to the area where the official and unofficial hangings took place.
In the afternoon, after lunch, we explored the National Art gallery where we saw traditional and contemporary Canadian art. After, we walked over the bridge across the River to Gatineau, Quebec to the Civilization Museum to see a voudu exhibit, a beautiful exhibit of Canada’s First Nations peoples and go to a 3D IMAX movie about Kenya. We ended our day with a nice warm Thai dinner.
Sunday morning we went out for coffee at Bridgehead, where the coffee is roasted in Ottawa, on our way to the parliament building for our guided tour. We walked in the door just as the tour was starting. We walked through and learned about the history of the building and the political past of Canada. The building is draped in incredibly detailed neo-gothic carvings and reliefs. After our tour, we walked to get lunch at la Bottega (best sandwiches in town) and beaver tails, and then proceeded to the train station.
The trip to Ottawa was busy but fun. Staying in a converted prison was interesting. It was designed acoustically so that the guards could hear anything going on in that specific area, so it was interesting trying to sleep each night while other things were going on. They do offer free earplugs at the front desk. All in all, it was a great experience!
– Jordan Lamotte, Cyber Security Major, Fall 2013