We began this 3 month trip flying to Ontario to celebrate Mon Oncle and Ma Tante’s (Uncle René & Auntie Lillian’s) 60th wedding anniversary. This is the Uncle Mike lived with on and off from a very young age and they have a special place in our hearts. They are still spry, Uncle’s hair is still only salt and pepper, they text, are on Facebook and remember things I’ve forgotten! The plan was that I would meet Mike at the airport, (he was coming in from Houston) rent a car and be on our way, but the best laid plans…. Mike was now going to Guatemala (from Paraguay) and would not get in for another four days.
The reason the Guatemala trip was so important was because there were meetings with the President, the Attorney General, the Supreme Court and Education, Military and business sectors. There were also public meetings with just under 20,000 people – all this in only two days.
So Auntie Lillian picked me up from the airport and took me to their trailer that they live in from April to October. Originally it was a place to spend a couple of weeks during the summer with their kids, and 49 years later they are still coming to this same park every year. They have seen the park grow and develop during that time and have been an integral part of that growth from troubleshooting, maintenance, including mowing the lawn (uncle only stopped doing that a couple of years ago) reception, bookkeeping and extending water pipes and electricity lines as the park expanded. They were a gift to the owners, becoming their friends and over the years more like family. A few years ago they bought a bigger 40′ trailer, added a sunroom and then closed it in – now they can sleep 8! A deck was added to the front, and in the back bird feeders, a fire pit, storage shed, flowers and wifi. A lovely little get-away place to come to and relax.
This is what they do, they make everything better wherever they go. A few years ago they sold their house that they lived in for 42 years and the neighbours said, where are we going to go for Christmas and New Years? They have been parents, grandparents, counsellors, advisors, and friends to family and neighbours alike. Their home is always open without reserve, offering a place to stay, somewhere to go for the holidays, a shoulder to cry on, acceptance and all with genuine concern and love. Most of their nieces and nephews have lived with them at one time or another. Their home has always been open for one more, there is always an abundance of food, lots of laughter and spirited discussions interspersed with French quips.
We ate too much, talked constantly and laughed a lot, played games, swam, canoed, sat by the fire and ate some more. So fun. With kids and grandkids spread out all over Canada, it was a real treat to all be together.
Mike and I were privileged to be able to be part of this family celebration. They have modelled what a family looks like, they were a stable and safe haven. What a great example they were for Mike and many others.
After our week at the cottage we drove to Ottawa, our first time to visit our countries’ capital. After going through Algonquin Provincial Park we stopped in a little town at the grocery store to pick up some things. The manager was a very pleasant man who was disabled physically and was in an automated wheelchair, the kind that is moved by pushing a joy stick. He helped us locate something and zipped around to find it, he impressed me so much. What a difference a pleasant attitude and willingness to help makes, if I lived here I would give all my business to this store just because of this man.
Ottawa has 5 Universities and 2 Colleges, so there are a lot of young people – 50% of the city is under 35 and it’s very multi-cultural. Being right on the border of Quebec, there is French spoken everywhere, and beautiful old buildings in all directions.
We took a tour of The Parliament buildings – very impressive! Makes me want to get involved in politics just to work here!
Sat on the grass and watched this fabulous light show – shown every night at 9:00 during the summer.
The Canadian Mint – Canada holds the world record for the purest gold at .9999 pure. This gold bar weighs 24 pounds and is 400 oz. of pure gold worth approx. $700,000.00
Rideau canal runs through the city and in the winter it completely freezes over. It is the world’s largest outdoor skating rink – 4.8 miles long. Starting between the Ottawa River and the Rideau river there are 45 locks that connect Ottawa and Kingston, a distance of 125 miles. This takes 3-5 days to travel by boat.
We stayed at Auberge McGee’s Bed and Breakfast – a lovely old home built in 1886. The original owners son was one of the first to be in the hockey hall of fame. The current owners, The McGee’s have been here for 30 years. I love the tall thick solid doors, the creaky hardwood floors, high ceilings, ornate fireplaces, crown mouldings and floor boards. We had a king size bed on the main floor with our own very nicely renovated bathroom. Breakfast was served on singer sewing machines turned into tables with china tea cups and lace table clothes. What a charming place.
On our way out of the city we drove by 24 Sussex Avenue, apparently Justin is not living there at the moment because the house is getting a long overdue reno.