Thursday, February 19, 2009

President Obama Visits Ottawa

President Obama in Ottawa today (Photos from

As we were getting ready to leave Ottawa on Monday, preparations were well underway for President Barak Obama's visit to Canada. Barricades were being erected around Parliament Hill and dozens of Canadian flags lined the walkways. This was a working visit rather than a state visit and Canadians were informed that there would be little opportunity to see the president. However, thousands lined the streets beginning at dawn for the chance to catch a glimpse of him. A busload of people from our city travelled six hours each way today in hopes of seeing their hero. By all accounts the day was a huge success. Obama waved to cheering crowds from behind bullet-proof glass in front of Parliament. On the way back to the airport, he made an unexpected stop at ByWard Market to the delight of many common citizens.

ByWard Market in downtown Ottawa is the oldest commercial and residential district in the city. It opened originally in 1848 and the current market building was constructed in 1926. The market district is home to an eclectic mixture of farmers market stalls, boutiques, galleries, caf├ęs, pubs and clubs. It was my favourite area of the city and we visited it twice when we were in Ottawa.

BeaverTail stand at ByWard Market

BeaverTails are a locally famous treat and we enjoyed them for the first time at the market. They are large pieces of deep fried dough shaped like the tail of a beaver, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and optional toppings. I had one with apple topping and was stuffed after eating half of it. President Obama stopped and bought one at the same shop we had visited. He then went into the market and purchased some treats for his children to the surprise of the vendors and shoppers who were there.

My Beavertail

The president's visit was not about food and shopping but he has endeared himself to the people of Canada with his lack of arrogance and down-to-earth friendliness. His awareness and interest in our culture and citizens is completely unlike the the last president's attitude towards Canada. There will be inevitable disagreements between our governments but hopefully they will be handled amicably and respectfully.

Outdoor vendor at ByWard Market

When we toured the Parliament Building last Saturday we were told that Queen Victoria selected this unlikely backwoods city as Canada's capital in 1857 for a number of reasons including its distance from the American border. It was hoped that American troops would get lost if they ever tried to march on the city.

President Obama was photographed above at this entrance

Things have changed greatly in the last 150 years. Even 50 years ago few would have envisioned the first black American president visiting with our first black Governor General, Michaelle Jean in Ottawa.

And I think changes like this are a good thing.

President Obama and Mme Jean (

(Picture of the Parliament building and the Canadian flag taken by my eldest daughter)


  1. Lovely post.As a Canadian I am proud to have the USA as our neighbor.Good neighbors are priceless.

  2. Anonymous8:55 pm GMT-5

    I was happy to see that Canada was happy to see Obama...

  3. Anonymous9:16 pm GMT-5

    Obama is a great president. His presence is impacting grants like no other president prior. Grant funding for minorities and middle class have increased nearly 10,000% in the past week.

    Obama's New Grants
    Largest Grant Amounts in History!

  4. I am thrilled to have Obama as president. great post!

  5. I too think it's wonderful that the first black US president met with our first black governor general. I feel the world is changing for the better.

    Great post, Ruth. Very informative. I didn't know that about Queen Victoria (or I've forgotten) but how amusing - to think the americans would get lost this far north. LOL!

  6. It is so nice (that word hardly covers it) to hear Canadians speaking kindly of the U.S. President. And it is great, as a U.S. citizen, to not have to cringe in shame at our President.

  7. Great post. Isn't it awesome to realize we're living history.
    The Market looks like my kind of place. Your Beaver Tail looks like what we call Elephant Ears.

  8. Anonymous4:08 am GMT-5

    Although you post was about Obama, I kept thinking of the beautiful light in your pictures! And then you showed me a beavertail, and I had to reach for some coffee... :-)
    Keep enjoying your neighbours!

  9. Oh, it just makes me smile so broadly to see him interact with people and treat them with such warmth and respect. Such a huge fresh breath of air. I am so very proud to have him represent the US. :C)

  10. Anonymous7:56 am GMT-5

    I hope that our Prime Minister and the US President remember this day in the months to come. As like many people, I get a good sense of leadership, kindness and caring from Obama. He stop to buy his kids something from a street vendor, when his kids could have anything they want. That tells me he is just like you and me and the word President infront of his name hasn't tarnish him as a human. I hope he enjoyed his Beaver Tail. I've had those and they are VERY yummy.

    I have been to Ottawa twice and never went to the market. I think it's time to go back.

  11. Ruth- Well said!

    RW- I think they were ecstatic.

    MB- I hope his term is a great success.

    dawn- Thanks. He has plenty of charisma for sure.

    Wendy- Travelling in Eastern Ontario it is easy to see the past tension between the two countries. All those Loyalist communities and even the Rideau Canal was built because of the American threat. The future does look brighter.

    KGMom- When GWB was in Ottawa, the angry crowds were held back by riot police... what a contrast.

    Gaelyn- Elephant ears are likely similar, especially in size, lol! The market is great.

    Esther- When we visited last weekend the sunlight was wonderful for pictures. Obama visited on a more typical grey winter day.

    Jayne- It was interesting to watch our Prime Minister interviewed after the visit. He remarked more than once about the intelligence, warmth and friendliness of your President.

    Cheryl D- Well said. He does act like a real person, father and kind human being. You have to visit the market district the next time you are in Ottawa. It is just across the canal from the Parliament Buildings. Sussex Drive runs along the one side of it and the PM's house at 24 Sussex Dr is very close by.

  12. This president does the little things right, like shopping at the market and buying beavertails, both very good things to do. Maybe he should find a way to get all the CEO's to do the same; it might clear their heads.

  13. Anonymous9:49 am GMT-5

    You know, the Queens hope may still live on, since most Americans around here would be capture Toronto thinking it was the capitol... :-D

    Our American press is very skilled at bringing out the negative light in most topics (they says the Prime Minister nagged Obama about his trade policies and tensions ran high etc) it is nice to here is from a Canadian perspective.

    It is so nice to not have to be embarassed but our President.

  14. Obama's visit was indeed exciting. This is the first time in my life that I can remember a visiting American President expressing a true, thoughtful understanding of our country and the issues we are concerned about. Well done!

    Also, I was intrigued that Obama's remarks with Peter Mansbridge about the oil sands pleased BOTH the environmentalists and the oil companies. That is no small accomplishment. Realistic yet insistent on improvements at the same time. He couldn't have arrived at a better time.

    Two years ago Harper was still questioning the legitimacy of climate change. Now he's starting to realize the economy and the environment are inseparable. A time of crisis is indeed the greatest opportunity for real change. :-)

  15. It is only fitting that our President's first out-of-country visit was to our good neighbors in Canada. It is so wonderful to be able to see our President and feel proud again.

    Man, I saw those Beavertails on television. What a treat!

  16. I enjoyed watching this visit. As a hyphenated (Am-Can) person, I felt a pride for both sides! Obama is terrific, and we put on a great reception!

  17. Great post Ruth. Ottawa is where my daughter is and my old stomping grounds and it is nice to see such great photos of a wonderful part of town. And to see Obama just "drop in" down there, what a treat for the locals and visitors. I get goosebumps!
    He fills my heart with hope.

  18. Hi Ruth.....the UK have taken President Obama to their hearts. He seems like a good man and I think a lot of people are hoping he will make a difference. I think there are good things to come....

    Interesting post.....

  19. Wow! Great post: you must have used your "blog pass" (not press pass) to get special access. Anything warm with apple is good, especially in cold Ottawa capital, and I love the Canadian flag.

  20. I thought of you when I heard that President Obama was in Ottawa--having just read your post about your visit to the city. I'm glad that Canadians are such wonderful neighbors--especially to us in Maine--we are surrounded by Canada on 3 sides and only touch one other state. And p.s., that beavertail looked yummy!

  21. Fun to see that President Obama took the advice of Canadians who suggested that he grab a Beavertail during his visit:

    Welcome to Ottawa, President Obama!
    What should President Obama do in Ottawa?
    What should President Obama know about Canada?

  22. Thanks for the rest of your interesting and insightful comments!

  23. Nice pictures Ruth! It was fun seeing my "playground" through someone else's eyes!

    p.s. Aren't beavertails the best!!!!


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