Tuesday, July 11, 2017

🍁 Impressions From Visits to Ontario 🍁 Canada 150

Canadian flag

Photo courtesy of waferboard's Flickr page - Canadian flag: https://www.flickr.com/photos/waferboard/5653240459

The first time that I visited Ontario was in 1999, and I probably mentioned that we actually stayed in Rigaud, Québec for that brief visit. It was the first time that we had visited Ontario at all, and the first time in around a decade that I had been to any Canadian province outside of Québec. We really were only there for a day or so, and went on to visit Québec City and Montréal, driving through the Laurentides (Laurentian mountains) on our drive from Ottawa to Québec City.

For a long time, I had seen pictures of Ottawa, and had been impressed by it. The Parliament buildings reminded me of London, especially the Peace Tower, which was reminiscent of Big Ben. To finally see the city in person was nice, and I was sure that there would be return trip.

Indeed there were, and not just to Ottawa.

Since then, I have visited Ontario numerous times, including visits to the biggest city in the province, and in all of Canada, in fact, Toronto, as well as to Niagara Falls, and have driven from there to Ottawa and vice versa. Also, I have visited some other Ontario destinations, including Windsor (across the river from Detroit), Kingston, London, and Hamilton (particularly the Botanical Gardens).

There are still plenty of things in Ontario that I have not seen yet. I have always wanted to visit Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay (always loved that dramatic sounding name), as well as some of the isolated northern regions. I have traveled near the Thousand Islands which is shared between Ontario and New York, although I have not quite gone there for a visit, sadly. Someday, I fully intend to take a visit there. 

Still, I am glad to have seen as much of Ontario as I have. Ottawa is still always an enjoyable trip, and Toronto is an exciting, vibrant city. It might sound cliché to say this, but Toronto really seems like a cleaner, more pleasant, and far less dangerous version of New York City. In fact, Toronto was voted the most ethnically diverse city in the world, and it is also the city in the world with the most green space within it's borders! 

Now, those are some impressive credentials, and the stately CN Tower adds a touch of grace and character to the city, and make the skyline both immediately recognizable and highly attractive. I added some pictures from a long ago trip that my brother, my then wife, and my then still baby son took to Toronto dating back to 2007. 

Ottawa's skyline is not nearly so high, of course. In fact, from across the river in Gatineau, Québec, the skyline of Ottawa, such as it were, is more or less dominated by the Parliament buildings, lending the skyline a Gothic kind of look and feel, at least from afar (see some of the pictures below). Ottawa is obviously much smaller and, despite the fact that it is officially the national capital, it has a bit of a more provincial feel to it then does the much larger city of Toronto. Still, Ottawa does have that status of being a world capital city, and the French speaking element are far more present and clearly visible than they are in Toronto. 

Niagara Falls is beautiful, although the city itself has a distinctly amusement park kind of feel to it. Still, the might and majesty of the falls make it a worthwhile trip, and the park that stretches along the way and gives great views of the falls is itself very pleasant. And nearby, Hamilton is a very pleasant, small scale city, and the Botanical Gardens there are surely among the most beautiful in North America. 

Overall, I have enjoyed my trips to Ontario. While I have not visited it as much as Québec province, and thus cannot claim as much familiarity to it as with Québec province, it is nonetheless a province I have enjoyed each time, and admired some of it's considerable beauty. It is a very large province, stretching from it's border with northeastern New York state, across the Great Lakes region, and right to the Minnesota border. If you look at a map, that means that it is within easy driving distance of Vermont, and stretches across most of New York state, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and to Minnesota, an enormous chunk of real estate!

This most recent visit was limited to Ottawa and the immediate areas surrounding it, and the stretch of highway to Rigaud. So, it was hardly the most extensive visit to Ontario that we have taken. 

That said, it was very nice to be back in Ontario, which by population is the largest province in all of Canada, and sports both the biggest city in the country, as well as the national capital city. 

Well worth a visit!

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