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Wednesday, Dec. 17, 10:39 a.m.
Style & Culture

Students explore Canada’s capital city

History, culture and policy studied on CAN 101 trip to Ottawa over the weekend

The Neo-Gothic style architecture of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Ontario.
John Poulin
The Neo-Gothic style architecture of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Ontario.

Sponsored by the Canadian-American Center, more than 40 students and five chaperones set off for Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Oct. 21. The trip was organized as an attempt to bring Canada to life for those taking CAN 101: Introduction to Canadian Studies, along with other University of Maine students.

“Despite how short of a trip it was, the most beneficial experience of visiting Ottawa was the amount of exposure one gets by going to places like the Parliament building, the Museum of Civilization, and the National Gallery,” President of Club Canada Mario Giampetruzzi said. “It’s a total Canadian immersion experience.”

After spending the first night on their own eating traditional Ottawa fare like poutine and beaver tails, the students were ready and anxious for their first stop, the Museum of Civilization.

The Museum of Civilization, the largest museum in Canada, told the country’s story in an interesting and artistic way. The students were free to explore the museum on their own with or without the help of a tour guide.

Outside the museum there was a great view of one of the later stops, the Canadian Parliament. Designed with Neo-Gothic architecture, these buildings were surely different from Washington in both appearance and function.

In almost every room of the Parliament building, paintings and carvings told stories about Canada’s history. The library may have been the most interesting stop inside Parliament because it was the only room to survive a fire that occurred during World War I. To this day it is unknown how the fire started, but due to the actions of one quick librarian, many books that would have otherwise been destroyed are now among the library’s collection of more than one million.

Before visiting Parliament, the students had the honor of visiting the U.S. Embassy where they learned more about the relationship between Canada and America. Among the more interesting facts: Canada is the largest supplier of energy imported into the United States.

Thanks to Crystal Meriweather, United States Cultural Affairs officer, the students were able to hear about the lifestyle within the Foreign Service as well as the architectural meaning behind the design of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. The students also had the chance to ask questions pertaining to U.S.-Canadian relations.

One of the first things the students noticed when arriving at their last stop, the National Gallery of Canada, was a sculpture of a large spider, Maman. The sculpture was the creation of Louise Bourgeois and can be seen from many spots across the city.

Other attractions inside the National Gallery of Canada included the collection of contemporary art and European art.

With the final stop wrapped up, the students found themselves again free for the night.

Many of the students took the opportunity to visit some of the city’s unique sections such as Chinatown and Little Italy. Other students chose to visit some of the local pubs and clubs. Everywhere students went the locals were friendly and helpful.

All in all, the city of Ottawa proved to be an exciting city with a diverse culture. The people were nice, the food was great and the experience was one to remember.