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Homecoming 2010 - Ottawa, Ontario

Wow! Did we have a good time in Ottawa. No rain, comfortable temperatures – especially Friday and Saturday. Only one trip through Ottawa itself – and that after most people were at work – and lots of interesting thing to see and do. Lloyd & Pat Chamney, our lead hosts with the assistance of Dan Moreau & Janice Lang and Ian Smillie took good care of us.
THURSDAY
After our short drivers meeting we broke up into two groups for traveling. The more modern cars left first, ensuring a group would be on time for our tour of the Diefenbunker, located in Carp. Built at the height of the cold war, it was intended as a communications centre in the event of a nuclear war, this four storey, 358 room building, is totally underground. Ottawa received heavy rains and thunderstorms both Tuesday and Wednesday around suppertime. Unfortunately, the municipal hydro supply to the bunker was knocked out by a lightning strike on the Wednesday, so we were provided with just a short version of the tour. The upper two levels, containing the CBC studios, Prime Ministers residence, the hospital, the war room and many government department offices were toured using their auxiliary power. There was no lighting on the two lower levels which reportedly contained the accommodations, armory and a vault for the Bank of Canada’s gold were unavailable. What we did see was pretty amazing.
We gathered up in two groups again and headed off to the Mississippi Textile Museum for a tour and lunch. Built in 1867, as just one of many mills powered by the Mississippi River in Almonte, it serves as a reminder of how things have progressed. The early arrivals had a tour, we all enjoyed a lunch surrounded by their quilt display, then the later arrivals toured the building. We then gathered up for a guided walking tour of the river area of Almonte. Like most small towns in Canada the downtown areas has been neglected as people and stores moved to the outskirts, but Almonte has made an effort to revitalize many of their old stone building into condos. The walking tour ended at the local ice cream stand, where most of us indulged.
Our next stop, the Mill of Kintail, was just a short drive out of Almonte, so Henry & MaryLou Eggengoor drove their 1917 while John & Alice Feser drove their ’23. We didn’t do any great speed, but they both performed flawlessly there and then back into Almonte to the Legion Hall for dinner.
There is a cruise-in held in an Almonte plaza so we stopped for about an hour to see and be seen before making our way back to Ottawa. We traveled 64 miles today.
FRIDAY
We broke up into two groups after our drivers meeting. Today’s tour was a little more challenging as it required a drive through downtown Ottawa to reach the Canadian Aviation Museum. Traffic turned out to be quite tolerable with the abundance of traffic lights being the largest problem. But we all made it just fine. This large facility boasts many “first” airplanes. It is laid out for self-tours, but having a guide really brought the displays to life. After an extensive tour we gathered for lunch in the museum.
When we finished we then made our way to the RCMP stables. Although the Musical Ride Team was performing in Alberta many of the older horses, used to train the newer riders, and several very young horses undergoing their training were on display. Our guide took us through the large facility, explaining the various aspects of training and care. It was interesting to learn that Musical Ride is a commitment of three years for each of the riders, one training and two on tour. Each officer is required to care for their horse – this means training, grooming and mucking out the stalls. This year, for the first time ever, there are more women than men on the 32 person team.
Next we made our way to the Central Experimental Farm along the banks of the Rideau Canal. Ottawa houses the only city in North America with a "farm" in its downtown. In addition to being the headquarters of Agri-Food Canada and one of 19 national science centres, the Farm has a large display of flowers and flowering trees. After a brief stop here we made our way along the south side of the city, back to our hotel for a total tour of 42 miles.
SATURDAY
Even though it was Saturday, and a lighter traffic day, we broke into our two groups to travel across the south end of the city to the Science & Technology Museum. This massive museum's public display area is broken into four theme areas and covers everything from household items, to communications devices, to trains to cars. In addition to the public area we were invited to visit some of the back storage area – of course it was the transportation area. We saw racks of vehicles, cars, buses and trains in storage. Here we spotted a 1905 Buick, a 1963 LaSabre and a 1972 Riv. After our tour we were provided with one of their conference rooms for our lunch.
Once we were fed, we headed twenty miles up the Rideau River to Manotick, for a tour of the Watson Grist Mill and the Dickson (original mill owner) family home. When we came out, our host had arranged ice cream to be delivered. After enjoying that we completed our days tour of 44 miles.
Once six o'clock arrived it was time to gather for our banquet. DJ, Glenn Miller, entertained us before, during and after supper. We also used this time for our silent auction where almost $700 was raised for Maycourt Hospice in Ottawa, this years charity.
By Bob Ward
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