Day 58, 59, and 60, June 21-24, 2012: We have spent the last three days tied up alongside a Parks Canada dock in downtown Ottawa. Coming up the eight-step lock from the Ottawa River to the city in 100-degree heat was a chore. The process took about two and a half hours. I will attach a choppy video of the procedure. You will notice that many of the locksters are college students doing backbreaking work operating the lock doors and sluices by hand.
The locks up to Ottawa are 180 years old. The eight locks raise or lower boats about 80 feet. Some of the locks look renovated; the stones are still whole. Other locks have no mortar between the stones and the edges are broken. Some are missing gaping chunks that would lose a fender. The lock mechanism is all cranks, gears, and chain. Some of the lock doors have been replaced quite recently. In other instances the timbers looked seriously moth-eaten.
A word about the downtown docks for our fellow cruisers who haven’t been to Ottawa: The docks are adequate. There is 30 Amp power in the fence posts separating the promenade from the dock. The Rideau brochure advertises fresh water from the fountain in the park but there is no fresh water. Trash disposal is a bit of a nuisance. Apparently, the City of Ottawa doesn’t believe in trash receptacles. This would be an opportunity for friend Jerry as we spotted a few of his around. The Ottawa Locks lock master is in charge of turning your power on at a charge of $9.80 per day. The permissible load is 30 Amps on the dot as a surge will trip the breaker necessitating a call to the lock master at 613-239-5000 during hours and 613-239-5353 after hours. Wi-Fi is available but you have to hunt for it. We found it in Starbuck’s, McDonald’s and if you behave like a preferred guest you can pick up Internet in the Westin lobby across the street from the dock.
Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is a fascinating city. At left coming into the Ottawa Locks we see the stately Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel. As usual, we covered the downtown area on foot and took in only a fraction. After arrival on the 21st we walked over to Parliament Hill. Attending a session of the House of Commons reminded me of my favorite programs on C-Span—pols blowing lots of hot air and getting nothing done at the public’s expense. The Senate session was a bit more gentlemanly/ladylike. The best view in the city is from the top of the Peace Tower. The old buildings are ornate Victorian gothic revival in style and very ornate. Security on Parliament Hill is very tight. Going in we are stripped of all hand items except wallets and keys and then escorted everywhere by fairly bulky uniforms that reeked “don’t mess with me.”
The next day we took in the Byward Market that has the feel of the market in Beijing, China. Anything and everything is for sale. The Van Gogh exhibit at the National Gallery of Art was our next stop. This was a top class and superbly curated exhibit well worth the pricey admission. We spent Saturday with friends who are residents of Ottawa. The National Gallery building is a modern contemporary design sitting on a hill below the Alexandra Bridge, which connects Ottawa and Gatineau, Quebec. The top of the hill behind affords an unparalleled view of Parliament Hill. The prominent spire is the Peace Tower that houses the carillon and the honor rolls of Canadians killed in wars since the dominion came into being, on July 1, 1867. The shorter spire in front of the Peace Tower is the top of the Parliamentary Archives building. As of this writing Ottawa is gearing up for Canada Day.
In the image on the left we are docked across the street from the convention center. The Westin Hotel is to the left.
The market on Saturday night was a jumping place but then we found it crowded during the day, too. It looked to us that there is no recession in this part of the continent. People are out spending dollars and paying almost 14 percent sales tax on most everything (more in Quebec than Ontario). Serving people in the restaurants and many of the employees of Parks Canada, especially lockkeepers are college students and they are employed in droves.
Today, the 24th we have started down the Rideau Canal towards Kingston, our next major stopover—we think.