We arrived in the beautiful City of Ottawa while biking along the Ottawa River. From about 12 KM away you could see the Parliament buildings, which were literally taunting us as we’ve been biking for this sight over the last two weeks. In my opinion Ottawa was by far the coolest City we have been to yet. Every City (Lethbridge, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie etc…) all had beautiful parts about them, but there was something unique about the Nation’s Capital. The one thing about B.C is it obviously doesn’t have the history of Eastern Canada. I was so amazed by the buildings, canals, and architecture of the downtown core. Maybe it was because I have left Comox 3 times in my life or maybe I was so pumped on life knowing that I had five rest days to do whatever I liked, but Ottawa was my new pride and joy. Being in the City almost makes you feel smarter. I think Ryan wants to go into Politics now haha!
Our original plan was to make it to Ottawa by Canada day, however we received an email about 10 days ago from representatives from our North Island MP John Duncan’s office that Senator and former Olympic Champion Nancy Greene wanted to meet us. Without any consideration or deliberation between us we pushed 1600KM in 10 days to make it to Ottawa by the 27th. Every pedal Neville took I could hear him mutter “Ottawa” under his breathe. It seems every time we have a long stretch of biking we have somewhere awesome to motivate us!
So early on the morning of the 27th we toured around the City, with our trusty friend Sean Ryan-Alward, who has lived here over the last four years. Sean Ryan set us up big time! He lent us all ties, dress pants and shirts. We were still left with our stinky running shoes on, but that was fine with us, as we haven’t looked this nice in months. Sean Ryan, having prior experience working at the famous Chateau Laurier Hotel as a Connoisseur, gave us an unreal tour while adding informative facts on the city. The top 3 historical facts I took from Sean Ryan were:
1) Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the Nation’s capital because of its strategic location on the Ottawa River, between York (now known as Toronto) and Montreal at the time. The Queen was scrutinized for picking this unknown mill community, but today it represents Canada perfectly with its beauty and Bilingual setting.
2) Ottawa has the most government workers per capita in the WORLD.
3) Parliament Hill has a house strictly for cats because years ago the rat population was so large that they needed these cats to keep the population as low was possible. (My personal favourite fact ha ha)
At 1:30pm we met with Laura, a worker for MP John Duncan, who brought us up to Nancy Green’s office. To say the least the Mackinnon boys were overwhelmed with what was about to occur. I can honestly say that to this point the most famous Politician I have ever met was Comox Mayor Paul Ives, who I respect more then anyone having to put up with our father’s antics on Council! We met Heidi and Gale, two of Nancy’s assistants who were so friendly, not even minding when a puddle of sweat formed right below me from being so nervous for our much anticipated meeting.
I was pleasantly surprised with how down to earth and COOL Senator Nancy Green was. She was so genuinely interested in our bike trip and hearing stories from her was so awesome. Most Canadians would remember the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. The five Canadians to light the five separate arms of the Olympic torch were Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash, Catrina Le May Doan, Rick Hansen and Nancy Green herself. Prior to coming out to light the torch, she was locked underneath with these other four famous Canadians until it was their time to go out. Imagine hanging with that company for a few hours!!!
What truly showed off Nancy’s amazing personality happened about twenty minutes after meeting her. We were about to take our first picture with her when she whispered to Sean Neville “do you know what ‘XYZ’ means?” Sean, who had no idea what she was talking about answered “no Nancy”.
“Well Sean I used to say it to my kids all the time”… “It means examine Your Zipper”!!
All of us burst out laughing as the Senator had just informed Sean his fly was down. Classic Mackinnon scenario to have something like this happen to us. We all laughed for five minutes afterwards including Nancy!..
The best part of the conversation was receiving relationship advice from Nancy. Telling us that we need to find a girl that has common interests with us and Marry her. Don’t waste any time! Who would have thought that I would ever receive relationship advice from the Athlete of the Century Nancy Green!. So mom you would be happy to know that we have a new outlook on finding our right woman!
The coolest thing about the whole day was we were introduced in front of the whole Senate. We sat in the front row overlooking the Senate from the top gallery and were given a loud ovation from the Senate as Nancy Green introduced us. It was so humbling to sit in this gallery and be recognized by the Senate! The red room, which we were located, was so cool. Having experience teaching Social Studies during Practicum, it was so neat to actually witness the Senate in action. It would be such a learning experience for any Canadian citizen to be able to do this! We ended the afternoon with a tour of the rest of the Parliament building, seeing both the library and the House of Commons. We would all like to thank Nancy, Heidi, Gail, Laura and John Duncan for this amazing experience!
Later that night we were picked up by Scott’s friend Duncan Cowan, who came all the way from Kingston to grab us. Duncan is a LEGEND! Scotty hasn’t stopped talking about Kingston, but more specifically Duncan and his house for the last 2 weeks. Duncan has been sending us emails and pictures of the food and drinks that he would have for us! I have never seen Neville bike so fast in my life after seeing thing picture of the stocked up fridge that Duncan had set up for us. We have the next few days to rest in Kingston, the home of the first Prime Minister of Canada, John A. McDonald! Cheers,