Doors Open Ottawa 2009

Yesterday and today I went to a number of locations for Doors Open Ottawa. This is an event where 108 buildings are opened to the public for tours; many of the buildings are not normally open to the public. I’ve posted a few pictures to the gallery.

Yesterday, I started the day at the NAC. I saw two of the stages I have not seen before, plus a tour of the dignitaries box for the main stage. After that, I went outside to the War Memorial for the D-Day Memorial service.

Next, I had lunch at the Rideau Centre before moving to King Edward St to see La Nouvelle Scène. This is a mostly French theatre, but it also hosts events for the Ottawa School of Dance.

On my way back to Parliament Hill, I noticed a synagogue with people coming and going. So I stopped and asked if I could go in. They said yes, so I stepped inside. There might have been a service in progress, but I could not tell – they were speaking English (not Hebrew) and were not talking about anything religious (more like community announcements). This was the first time I have been in a synagogue.

Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada

Next, I went the Supreme Court of Canada. I felt that this was a very special place to visit – a part of the federal government I have not previously seen. Canada’s court system is something of which I am very proud. I read about abuses in places like China, Africa or the Middle East, and know how lucky I am to be Canadian. An added bonus: the beautiful Art Deco interior and exterior.

After that, I went in the East Block of Parliament, which had four offices open for viewing. One was the office of Sir John A. MacDonald and one for the Governor General. BTW, I do not like having the Queen as part of my government – I want to see Canada completely independent from the British monarchy. The next office was the Privy Council Chamber. I do not remember the fourth office – it was a not a name I’ve heard before.

Traffic Light Storage
Traffic Light Storage

That concluded my tour downtown, so I left for Traffic Operations (Public Works). This building houses offices that control nearly 1,100 traffic signals, 19 red-light cameras, 96 traffic cameras, road painting, road sign creation and maintenance and the creation, maintenance and repair of all of the traffic lights in Greater Ottawa Area.

Today, I had hoped to go to the Canadian Science and Tech museum storage building, but some issues with taking my mother-in-law to church meant I would not have enough time. I’ll have to see it some other time.

Instead, I started with the Canada Post Ottawa Mail Processing Plant. This building was only open on Sunday. This facility can process over 2 million letters and packages a day (much higher volume near the winter holidays). It is in operation 24 hours a day, 6.5 days a week.

The newspaper indicated that no cameras were permitted, but halfway through the tour I was told that was not a problem so long as I didn’t take pictures of the employees. I had left my camera in the car, and felt very disappointed by this. The facility was so interesting, I had really really wanted to take pictures of all the automatic sorting equipment. Also, the tour was really long – my group of 16 people were asking a lot of questions. 3 other tour groups actually passed us while we were going through. I started getting very hungry and sometimes even a little bored. I’ll have to come back next year and get some photos perhaps.

Gurdwara Sahib Ottawa Sikh Society
Gurdwara Sahib Ottawa Sikh Society

After that, I went to the Ottawa Sikh Society. This was the first time I have been in a Sikh temple (and yesterday was the first time in a synagogue). The temple was an open room with a clean (no shoes!) carpeted floor around a central raised platform (see picture). I was told a little about the Sikh religion (some of which I knew from reading the book [Teach Yourself] World Faiths by Dr Paul Oliver). In an adjacent room was a meal hall where everyone was served food as they sat on the floor. I had a piece of roti bread; I left a small offering before I left.

American Mark-4 atomic bomb
American Mark-4 atomic bomb

I had also wanted to see the Ottawa Main Mosque, but I was running late and decided my next stop would be Canadian Space Services, which maintain a satellite communications center (formerly a NATO site). However, I could not find the road, but I found the Diefenbunker, so I went there instead. Only the entrance and the top floor were open, but that was still neat to see. This was the first important Cold War site I’ve visited since Rosa and I visited Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

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