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2011 The Nightingale's Oddessy Our exchange year in Canada.

Ottawa our next exchange location???

CANADA | Tuesday, 10 May 2011 | Views [466]

Ottawa our next Exchange location????

Thursday 5th & Friday 6th May

Ok I’m back with another chapter. This time Ottawa -  the Canadian capital.

The trip was organised as a professional development day for the Australian teachers, so they were able to take the Friday off for school visits in the Ottawa region. Once again many thanks must go to the members of the Canadian League of Exchange Teachers for this opportunity.


Friday, being a work day, meant we were able to leave early on the Thursday afternoon for the 500km journey up the St Lawrence Seaway to Ottawa. The drive was a pleasant one and finally showed us that Spring has arrived, (the weather is something that the Canadians are continually apologising for, as Spring has been wet and cold so far). The countryside East of Toronto is turning a verdant green and I got my first glimpses of the vast fir forests I have been dying to see.

We arrived in Ottawa around 20:30 and went to our accommodation. We were billeted with Carin and Alan Goodman, a wonderful, semi retired couple, who were gracious enough to provide us with two rooms in their house. Carin is a former teacher who now works as a supply teacher and Alan is retired from the electronics industry. He and I immediately discovered we had a shared background as Alan is a former electronics technician with the Royal Air Force.

Friday morning was an early start as Michelle had to be at the Winston Churchill Elementary school at 09:00 and the kids and I were off to meet the Barnards at the museum of Science and Technology. Once arriving there we found that a couple of other families had had the same idea, so Ryan and Tash got to meet up with some more of their friends. As you would expect from its name the museum showcases a lot of Canadian Science and Technology and is very hands on and kid friendly. Amongst its exhibits were displays of Canadian Steam Locomotives, an exhibit on Canada’s participation in Space and telecommunications and displays on mining and ship building, areas that are important to the development of Canada.

As well as those exhibits, there were interactive demonstrations on electricity and the Crazy Kitchen. This is a room were the doors windows are perpendicular, but the floor is sloped, so when you walk into the room you immediately feel as though you are falling sideways, it completely messes with your sense of balance. Needless to say the kids loved this and kept racing back through.

Leaving the museum it was back to the school and pick up mom and a couple of other teachers, all having agreed that the visit was well worth it, to see how different approaches are being used in another school environment.

Next stop, was a First Nations aboriginal experience on Victoria Island in the middle of the Ottawa River, but not before getting lost and ending up across the river in Quebec (another province crossed off). At the aboriginal experience we were treated to lunch, Bison burgers and venison sausages. Prior to lunch however we were shown examples of First Nations dwellings, including Wig Wams and Tepees and here I was growing up thinking they were the same thing. We were also taught the importance of the Ottawa river and Victoria island to the Algonquin people and other aboriginal First Nations People.

After lunch we had the chance to listen the Native account of why North America is referred to as ‘Mother Turtle’  in native folklore. We were also shown examples of native dancing and dress and were encouraged to take part in a traditional dance.

After leaving Victoria Island it was off to the next official part of the day, a reception held at the residence of the Australian High Commissioner to Canada, the Honourable Justin Brown. The High Commissioners’ residence is in the diplomatic quarter in a lovely old house, with the Austrian Embassy just up the road, (I wonder how many times they get each other’s mail). The house has a grand staircase in front of you just as you enter the hall, so the kids enacted the farewell scene from the sound of music, so look out for that on you tube in a couple of weeks. Mr Brown was very pleasant to talk too and thanked the teachers for their help in showcasing Australia in Canada, one of his duties.  I asked the High commissioner if he had any jobs going but he only has a small staff and only three of those are from defence and two are in uniform, damn.

Apparently Ottawa isn’t a popular diplomatic post, can’t understand why, must be something to do with the cold. I’d go there at the drop of a hat. Wonder if I can transfer to the Department of Foreign affairs?

Friday night was topped of with BBQ at the house of the CLEE organiser in Ottawa. He lives in Gatineau, Quebec, across the river from Ottawa, so another chance to visit French speaking Quebec. You can tell you are in Quebec because in Ottawa all road signs are in English and French, in Quebec they are just in French.

Entertainment for the night was provided by Roland’s sons band the Cardboard Crowns, whose lead singer sported the most impressive Mohawk I’ve ever seen.

So that was Friday. Tune in later for Saturday and Sunday.

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