With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Proud to Be a Canadian

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 18, 2010

August 8-10, 2010

All Pictures



I am an American. This means that other than it’s general geographical location, I know nothing about Canada. In fact when I first heard about Canada at the age of 7, I did not believe that such a country really existed.

My neighbor told me that she spent the summer in “Canada” and I ran home to my mom to ask where this strange country was. I found out that not only was the country real, but I had been there several times. What!?

A trip to Quebec taken was I was… 9 or so

You see the thing about Canada is that it is very much like the United States. They speak English, the roads look quite similar, their customs are indistinguishable from American customs, and Canadians, like Americans, don’t have a particular ethnic look. They are both heterogeneous societies.

Before 9/11, to get into Canada, all an American had to do was speak with an American accent. The border patrol would stop your car and ask, “Are you all Americans?” If you said, “Yes,” they would just let you go through.

So I must have been in the back of the car on one of these trips and thought we were just going through a toll. It could also be that, my family went on so many vacations, that a short trip to Canada, just didn’t stand out in my mind. Even now, I don’t really remember any of the trips to Canada I took as a kid. I just remember the pictures my mom showed me as proof of Canada’s existence.

Summer Light Show

Oh, …Canada! 

So what do Americans think about Canada? Well, most Americans don’t. But when we do, we think of Canada as a colder, more polite, unarmed version of America.

I spent about a week in Canada and the whole time I was trying to figure out what the differences between it and my country were. Honestly, there aren’t that many. I must warn you, the following is just my opinion. I am not an expert on Canada. I only spent 1 week there. I think a person would have to be in a country for at least 2 weeks to become an expert!

Enjoying the show

Why do you go to war?

An American would answer this question with, “For freedom.” As an American I have been told that a life without rights or freedom is not worth living. Remember the Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death speech?

During the MosAika light show at the Parliament a Canadian answered that same question. His answer was, “For peace.” My gut reaction was, “That’s not right. He should say something about rights or liberty.”

the translation booth


In Canada they seem to go out of their way to make sure that both English speakers and French speakers feel equally included in parliamentary activities. In the US we don’t really go out of our way to make sure anyone feels included.

Spiders are bigger in Ottawa!

So what did I learn?

Well I was trying to pay attention to the guide on the Parliament tour, but I couldn’t. She mentioned something about the House of Commons and the House of Lords. I guess it’s like our House of Representatives and the Senate. But to be honest, I’m not sure how they work either.

There was a horrible jail that was quite inhuman to the prisoners. Eventually it was closed down and then turned into a hostel. It is supposedly the most haunted place in North America.

I really don’t think I know much about Canada, but I love Ottawa! Maybe I’ll live there one day. How are the winters? …Warm?

new naked dancing friends

All Pictures



How to get there:

You can enter Canada by land, air, or sea. But you’ll probably fly in unless you live near the border.

Go to the US and head north. Well, sometimes you will need to head south.

Needed Documents:

As a US citizen you will need either:

  1. a passport
  2. Passport Card
  3. Enhanced Driver’s License
  • Technically, you need one of these documents or just a passport to get into Canada, but in actuality the Canadian border control doesn’t always check them. You will need one to re-enter the US.  The US border control does a thorough check on each and everyone coming into the country.
  • Be prepared to wait in a long line to get back into the US.
  • You are not allowed to carry fruit from one country into the other.


  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)





  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

The Parliament Building

How to get there:

  • 45°25’30.7″N 75°41’60.0″W

Just ask anyone. Apparently it’s so obvious that no one bothered to put directions online.

By Car –

  • Don’t bother trying to drive here during the weekdays; there is no place to park.
    • Parking downtown is free on the weekends.
  • Just try to find a parking lot as near Wellington St. as possible.


100 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6


  • Tourist Information 1-800-363-4465



  • Tours of the Parliament Building are completely free.


  • Starts at 9:00, but check the link above for the exact complicated schedule.
  • First come, first served.
  • Tours last 20 minutes to 60 minutes depending on what parliament is doing.
  • There is no way to book your tour ahead of time.


  • On Saturday and Sunday many parking garages are free.
  • From July through mid-September every night there is a light show on the Parliament Building at 21:30 to 22:00. The show is free.
  • Stop by the Visitor Center across the street for more information, free maps, brochures, and the all important bathroom.

Haunted Walks Tours
(Crime and Punishment Jail Tour)

How to get there:

  • 45°25’30.4″N 75°41’18.4″W

By Public Transportation –

  • Take bus #97 or #95 (both to the Rideau Centre) and get off on the MacKenzie King Bridge then walk east to the stairs.
  • Take bus #4 to the Rideau Centre and walk 2 blocks south.


75 Nicholas Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N7B9


  • 613-232-0344



  • Adult $13.00,
  • Student/Senior/Member $11.00,
  • Child (6-12 yrs) $8.00


  • Everyday at 19:00


  • Don’t buy your ticket for the Crime and Punishment Jail Tour from the Kiosk.
    • Go to the hostel and get it there.
    • You’ll save 2CAD per ticket.
  • This jail is now a hostel.
    • Here are the rates.
    • It’s actually cheaper to stay in a hotel if you have 3 or more people.
    • And from what I hear, you don’t get a good night’s sleep here. It’s more about the experience of staying in a haunted hostel that was once a prison.
  • Somewhere I read that this is the most haunted place in North America.
    • It could be a wee bit more haunted for my taste.


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