Our adventures in Ottawa started the moment we arrived at the hostel. The hostel is a converted old jail, bars on the windows and everything. I was in room John, on the ninth, in what used to be the old medical quarters. Most of the hostel rooms are actually the old jail cells themselves, with the rod iron bar doors that are heavy to open. Noise travels easily in these old cells areas so that back in the day guards could always hear what the prisoners were talking about.
That night we had what was the best meal of the trip at the Smoque Shack. I had Jamaican jerked pork that was so spicy that it made me cry, but it was so good that I finished all of it. I also had some sides of mac and cheese and poutine that were also amazingly tasty. Ian had a Smoque Shack special called the DBK, which he pretty much inhaled. The DBK is a giant sandwich that had smoked sausage, pulled pork, shaved beef brisket, and coleslaw on a Kaiser role and requires two hands to eat. That night a group of us hung out at the hostels underground bar called Mugshots, so of course we had to take some mug shots.
After breakfast that morning we arrived at the Rideau Canal for our first activity: ice skating! I had skated before so it felt very natural to be back on the ice. For many other people this was one of their first times being on the ice and felt very unsure of themselves with skates on. I spent my time helping try to teach other
to skate which proved to be more difficult than I expected. I ended up having to push Billy across the ice so he could grab his bag, which was a real bonding moment for all of us.
At the end of our time skating we had a beaver tails, which is the Canadian version of fried dough. The ones that we ate had cinnamon sugar on top, although they are traditionally made with lemon juice and granulated sugar.
After lunch we went to the civilization museum, where Gigi fell in love with the third floor. This floor was designed to feel like you were getting off a boat and arriving in an old Canadian town. Gigi sat down and listened to an audio recording about someone describing their lunch in an old class room setting.
As we were walking back from the civilization museum we had the most exciting moment of the trip. We saw a black squirrel, Matt Cerasoli tried to talk to it; he is now known as the squirrel whisperer.
After we walked back from the museum Gigi treated us to a Canadian delicacy, Obama cookies. These cookies were butter cookies shaped like maple leaves with red frosting on it that says Canada in all caps across it. These cookies were specially made for President Obama when he visited Ottawa in 2009, and the bakery has just kept making them. Pictures of the President’s visit now line the wall of the bakery and are the centerpiece of their décor.
Our last day in Ottawa was spent touring the parliament building, otherwise known as the house of old white men by Gigi, and learning about the Canadian government. We got to see the old parliament library, which has an old book about the birds of North America that is worth roughly $14 million, due to the hand painted images found in the book. At the end of the tour we got to go to the top of the peace tower where we could see all of Ottawa. Apparently the flag at the top is changed everyday. If you are a Canadian citizen you can be put on a waiting list to receive a flag. The waiting list is 20 years long.
We arrived back at the train station to head back to Montreal. Many of us were happy to sit down for a bit as we waited for our train, which had been delayed for 30 minutes. As we waited we joked around and reminisced about the trip. We were in Ottawa for less than 48 hours but we were all spent and ready to get back to our dorms.
– Ryan Atkinson, Game Design Major, Spring 2014
(And thanks to Matthew Struble for most of the amazing photos!)