It was a big party in the nation’s capital for Canada’s 150th birthday and Via Rail traveller Grace Fox, of Duncan, was there to take part. (Submitted)

Via Rail adventurer experiences Canada’s 150 in Ottawa

A $150 train pass has Duncan’s Grace Fox travelling across the country in July

The first in a series of periodic updates from Grace Fox, who is travelling the country in July after securing one of just 1867 $150 unlimited Via Rail train passes.

I arrived in Ottawa on Thursday, June 29, early morning and of course, being from B.C., the first thing I noticed was that the stop signs had both English and French on them. There was a lot of excitement from that point on.

It is a beautiful city. The houses are all made of brick and there are statues and street art everywhere you go. Of course being the capital city, it is full of culture and educational things. This weekend I went to the Canadian Museum of History (which used to be called the Museum of Civilization), the Art Gallery of Canada, and took a tour of the Parliament buildings. And that was just the beginning.

Before I talk of Canada Day I will mention the tour of Parliament. Or I would if words could ever measure up to the experience. We saw where bills were passed and debates were discussed, which was quite fascinating but nothing compared to the beauty of the building itself. Such beautiful carvings inside with details that took an unimaginable amount of time and patience to build. But the library — I felt like I had walked into a storybook.

It had wood walls with gorgeously detailed carvings of flowers, the green man found in many types of mythology and folklore, and others. There was an overwhelming amount of books, reference cards, and information. I could happily spend a year there. An interesting thing the tour guide mentioned was that members of Parliament must always be assisted in the library. They are not allowed to use it alone.

So on to the main event — Canada Day! We got into line at 10:30 a.m. and didn’t make it in to Parliament Hill until 2 p.m.

Crowds were intense and difficult to navigate, but people were still in a festive mood. Security was also very tight. You had to go through the designated tents where you had to empty all pockets, let them search your bag, and let them search you with the metal detector. Once you get in you see cops everywhere, some of them carrying assault rifles, which was an odd thing to see in Canada, but there were some concerns for the event so they were taking every precaution. It was a little unnerving though.

Everywhere you looked were seas of people wearing red and white and showing their Canadian pride. Spirits were high and everyone was polite like we are known for. It was easy to find someone to take your photo and someone would certainly ask you to take theirs .

Live entertainment was wonderful. I was thrilled to see Serena Ryder. One of my favorite bands, Walk Off The Earth, was scheduled to play later but there was a sudden downpour of rain in the evening which made it difficult to enjoy.

Several people, including myself, left at that point and there was some lightning.

Nevertheless I still got to see the anticipated fireworks.