As my friends back home get ready to celebrate the big Fourth of July, I am slowly coming down from the radiant high of a very momentous Canada Day weekend. Not only was I in Canada for it and not only was I in the country’s distinguished capital of Ottawa–amazingly, I got to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the flesh during their current royal tour. I just love when our paths cross like that.

To be one of the 300,000 gathered on Parliament Hill and to see newlyweds Will and Kate was another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (I’m having a lot of these in Ontario, actually). No, I did not get to shake their hands or engage in memorable royal conversation, but I did observe them take on the sizable crowd with aplomb. It was also a distinct reminder of the main difference between Canada and the United States: Canadians have a monarchy. In his speech to the crowd, Prince William even referred to his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II as “The Queen of Canada.”

Although one sees the Queen’s face every time you buy something in Canada, you rarely (i.e. never) hear Canadians refer to “their queen”. And yet here I was, in Ottawa, on the national day of Canada, listening to their “head-of-state-to-be” speak to his subjects in both English and French. I will leave the deeper political analysis to the talking heads–as an observing traveler, it was an awesome occasion. For me now, as a place, Ottawa has changed meaning. It will no longer just be a beautiful North American capital city with lots of grand buildings and old-world British flair. No, for me, Ottawa is where I watched Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton laugh and smile in a pretty white dress and glossy red shoes and shake hands with hundreds of elated Canadians.

The reality of Canada Day is that it’s a huge party for Canada with much drinking, dancing, bagpipes and wearing of red. It was good fun. Given that I celebrate my own country’s party on July 4th, I think from now on, I just might make a 4-day weekend of it.

Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic

Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton greets Canadians on Canada Day in Ottawa, Ontario. (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic)

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Julia Walkley-Sherman
    Aurora, Ontario
    July 4, 2011, 12:35 pm

    Thank you for your post.
    I, along with my husband and daughter, drove over four hours to Ottawa for this wonderful Canada Day event.
    In my amazement, five and a half hours prior to the royals’ arrival, the lawns of the Parliament Buldings were filling up at 6:20 a.m..
    We found a pretty good spot, which later, proved to be a great spot since we got to shake the Prime Minister’s hand and take some fantastic pictures of Kate and William.
    You know when you go far-a-field and someone asks you if you know Joe Something from your town or city, if you are in another country or far from home? Well, in staking out our waiting spot in the early morning, I looked up and standing there was our former town mayor and her husband. Aurora is not a big place and in a crowd of 300,000, we were the Aurora, Ontario contingent! We spent eight and a half hours together as regular Canadains waiting for a glimpse of Their Royal Highnesses.
    It was a truly amazing and happy day for all!
    I hope you enjoyed Independance Day-another party for you!

  2. Kerwin - Cruisinaltitude.com
    San Antonio, TX at the moment :-).
    July 4, 2011, 4:36 pm

    Awesome Andrew, thanks for making me feel like I was there. Looks like I’ll have to try to celebrate Canada Day next year in Canada.

  3. [...] the excitement of Canada Day and the pastoral idyll of the farm, I turned my wheels westward and set off into the [...]

  4. Michelle
    Canberra, Australia,
    July 11, 2011, 1:13 am

    Wonderful position you had for those photos and footage! I can’t wait to get to see the Duke and Dutchess. His mother and Father, The prince and Princess of Wales drove passed my house when i was in Highschool and I swear she looked right at me and waved… something I’ll never forget and hopefully will have the same affect on those who were there with you that day.
    Thanks for a great post as usual :)

    Misha_oz