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Red & White for the Royal Visit to Ottawa: How to do Canada Day Right in the Nation's Capital

Windows 7 and Shedoesthecity are having an extended flirtation with the royal couple. First, we had a fancy tea at The Windsor Arms, where we ate crumpets, wore feathered fascinators and used PhotoFuse to insert ourselves into Kate and Will’s engagement photo (we’re practically part of the family!).

Then came the wedding day, and we celebrated by launching a month long contest to win a trip to Ottawa to see the royals, stay for two nights at the chi-chi Chateau Laurier and blog about the Canada Day long weekend on a BRAND NEW DELL INSPIRON! Sweet deal.

We received hundreds of entries, but it was twenty-year-old Anja who won our hearts. As a struggling university student in my second year of Commerce at Ryerson University, I do not own my own laptop.  This would be a great asset for meetings with group members and allowing me to bring it on the go. Like Kate Middleton, I am a common person who would love to transform into a fairytale writer as a correspondent for She Does the City for William and Kate`s visit to Canada.” Awww! OF COURSE YOU WIN!

Here is how Anja spent her fairytale weekend with big sister:

Thurs. June 30th

Grabbing my new Dell Inspiron Duo laptop and luggage, I headed to the VIA Rail station en route to our nation’s capital to celebrate Canada’s 144th birthday.  However, this birthday for our young country was a bit more special: Will & Kate decided to crash the party and make it all the more festive!

I arrived in Ottawa at roughly the same time the royal couple touched down. The streets were decorated with Canada’s flag: on every street corner, car and t-shirt.  Unloading my unreasonable amount of luggage for a three-day stay, I felt a bit like royalty arriving at our hotel, the picturesque Fairmont Chateau Laurier.

“Ottawa is a city with a small town feel,” our waitress explains at a restaurant in ByWard Market.  Downtown Ottawa is quaint, and everything from Parliament to to the National Gallery of Canada are within a five minute walk of each other.  My Dell Inspiron Duo conveniently fits into my purse, and I pull it out to make a note of the peaceful, yet excited atmosphere in the city.  

Walking back to the hotel from dinner, we decide to stop by Parliament Hill and check out the preparations for the big concert tomorrow and are lucky enough to see the dress rehearsal.  Not wanting to spoil the entire show for tomorrow, we change in our hotel and head for a night out to Mercury Lounge – Ottawa’s answer to The Drake.  Three tightly packed floors of music with different DJs and a live band, Mercury Lounge is one of Ottawa’s hippest bars.

Fri. July 1st

Exiting the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, I enter a sea of red and white—wearing a peach coloured sun dress.  Obviously I missed the memo about wearing red and white for Canada Day, but I soon fit in with the theme by acquiring a sunburn.  In ByWard Market, we hit up Le Moulin de Provence for some “royal cookies” and croissants before heading over to the Museum of Civilization to join the other royalty groupies.

The Duchess of Cambridge leaves the car in the same white dress she wore to her engagement photoshoot and maple-leaf themed red fascinator.  After the citizenship ceremony, the royal couple leave to greet supporters and, of course, gracefully ignore the protestors with signs like “No Oath to Monarchy.”  The royal couples’ next stop is for Will to give a speech on Parliament Hill, so making the beautiful walk back across the bridge, we hear a twenty gun salute. This year would mark Princess Diana’s 50th birthday on the same day as Canada Day, and Will made a beautiful speech about the importance of the country.  In this crowd we see some of quirkiest Canada-themed style, including patriotic dogs.

Escaping the crowd and locked out of the hotel, we head to the National Gallery of Canada (free admission for Canada’s big day!) to take in some art including Andy Warhol, Roy Litchtenstein and many Canadian artists.  

Exhausted, the night festivities start at 7 p.m. with the official Canada Day party on Parliament Hill, featuring Sam Roberts and Great Big Sea.  The atmosphere is electric and the royal couple make another appearance to take in some Canadian tunes.  Earlier in the day, one of the hotel staff let us know the best place to catch the fireworks was on top of the Fairmont, so we head back there to see an impressive light show. 

Continuing the British invasion, in a parking lot turned nightclub, British DJ Calvin Harris has a show and we race to catch some his set.  In his accent, Harris thanks the crowd before ending the set with one of his popular remixes with Kelis, “Bounce.” At this point in the night, the crowd in ByWard Market is full of people feeling the birthday hangover.  We meet two guys from Burlington with hilarious outfits, and over beers at the Aude Dubliner they tell us how they make the migration every year to Ottawa to celebrate Canada’s big day.

Sat. July 2nd

A huge marching band wakes us up in the morning and we feel the effects of two days of birthday celebrations.  Catching the VIA Rail back to Toronto, I catch some Z’s and can’t wait to ring in Canada’s 145th birthday.  I’ll remember to wear red and white next time. 

~Anja M.

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