Hey everyone. I am sorry for not writing more. I am sorry for not letting you in. I am sorry for getting so wrapped up in all of the crazy things occurring around me that I do not focus on creating enough. But, this post is not about being sorry. I will discuss that more later. For now, I want to talk about my visit to Canada’s capital, Ottawa. Fair warning: If you visit Ottawa in the fall like I did, there is a very high chance that you will completely fall in love and want to drop everything and move there (as I did). Travel at your own discretion!
I absolutely LOVED Ottawa. Well… I guess Ottawa and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship. My initial impression when I got to Ottawa was not the best. It was grey and rainy, there are one-way streets EVERYWHERE, pedestrians are nuts and cross the road whenever they feel like it (if you did that in Toronto you would definitely die), and I was overall not having a good time driving around the city and checking it out. However, after I checked into my hotel and decided to explore downtown on foot, my perspective changed completely. Seeing the Parliament Buildings was inspiring, the fall colours were incredible, and the downtown core just had such a neat vibe. It felt more European to me, super quaint, incredible buildings, and more. Plus, I saw probably the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen my first night there. After that, I had pretty much fallen in love with Ottawa and was ready to move there in a heartbeat!
But… I should not get ahead of myself. Though Ottawa is a cute city, I feel that it may be a bit too small for me, especially when you compare Ottawa to Toronto. Honestly, Ottawa and Toronto are basically two different worlds. Toronto has strong diversity, plenty of options, many neighbourhoods in the downtown area, and really gives off that big-city vibe. In contrast, Ottawa has more of a tight-knit downtown core and gives off more of a quaint, European town sort of vibe. Ottawa also seems like a city that is very walkable and easy to get around by transit. Though Toronto does have a complex transit system, since it is SO BIG, most people still use cars to get around (especially if you are going to one of the further neighbourhoods or to the larger GTA), but traffic sucks. However, the weather is actually a lot better in Toronto. In fact, Toronto seems to have better weather than almost anywhere else I’ve been in Ontario (for now… winter hasn’t hit yet, but it’s coming). Anyway, Ottawa is REALLY cold, and I’m pretty sure I got sick from walking around in the cold/rain but honestly, it was worth it just to explore the beautiful downtown. All in all, both of these cities are incredible, but I’m happy to be where I am right now. I am curious if any of my readers who have explored or lived in Ottawa or Toronto noticed these comparisons as well, or noticed something else that I missed? Let me know in the comments!
While in Ottawa, I also had the opportunity to go for a tour of the Parliament Buildings, which was incredible. I could definitely feel a strong sense of nationalism and pride in Canada, which was great to feel connected to; however, I couldn’t help but wonder about how the Capital addressed the not-so-great parts of Canadian history (which are plentiful), particularly the impact of residential schools on Indigenous peoples in Canada. Unfortunately, there was little mention of these aspects of Canadian history at Parliament or anywhere else in the Capital. I also disturbingly found a lack of Indigenous peoples representation – there was hardly any mention of this important group of peoples anywhere in Ottawa. Even at the National Gallery of Canada exhibit that I visited, there was only a small section of the gallery showcasing Indigenous artwork (and it is likely questionable how this artwork wound up in the gallery as well: was it actually given to the gallery or simply “found” ie stolen?).
These factors, combined with the strong sense of nationalism I felt, kind of gave me the feeling that Ottawa is almost lacking diversity and celebration of all people. It is difficult for me to say whether or not this is an accurate feeling or interpretation of Ottawa, as I was only there for a few days; yet, Canada is a diverse country and should be represented as such, especially in our Capital. I had hoped I would feel more of a sense of diversity and celebration for all aspects of Canadian life and culture (including Indigenous peoples), but I did not. I am curious if anybody who has visited our nations Capital for longer than a few days, or anyone that lives there, has different or similar impressions of Ottawa? Is Ottawa a place that celebrates all aspects of diversity in Canada? Or is it a place that seeks to uphold nationalistic values and ultimately reinforce largely European (ie white) “roots” of Canada? Let me know what you think below.
Again, I apologize for my recent lack of creativity on the blog. I have been expressing myself in other ways lately, more of which I will be revealing soon. I have tons more to come your way, so stay on your toes. If you want more continuous updates, follow me on Instagram or follow the hashtags #chiaratakestoronto and #chiaraexploresontario Love always <3