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Day 20

Today was a travel day. It seems a bit odd, since Montreal is so close to Ottawa. But that’s the schedule. We weren’t about to complain. After an 18-hour marathon of work yesterday, a day of travel was something to look forward to.

Arising earlier than necessary, I took the opportunity to wander around Ottawa, specifically the Parliament Buildings. Having lived in Ottawa before, I’d been to Parliament Hill many times. I needed pictures for the web site, but also for myself. Clear mornings are the best for catching colour.

One thing I’d never seen on Parliament Hill before is a little area off to the west side called “Stray Cats of the Hill”. Since the 1970s, cats such as these (I suspect the current cats are either descendants of the original stray cats, or are new additions) have lived in a small house on the slope of the hill. Today, the “Catman of the Hill” maintains the house and feeds the animals (it is in no way associated with the Federal Government). An interesting thing to find while prowling the Hill.

We boarded the train at Ottawa’s VIA Rail station around 10:45 a.m. A little over an hour later, we were on our way to Montreal. Less than 10 minutes out of Ottawa, we heard the following announcement:

“Ladies and gentlemen, the helicopter is now overhead. You can obtain a clear view of it through the Skyline dome.”

Daryl had arranged the helicopter in question. This had been a shot Daryl wanted since we left Vancouver. Ideally, it would have been in the Rockies. As we were travelling at night, the odds were poor. Out of Kamloops, it rained. Saskatoon to Melville was promising, but for some reason, all helicopters run from Melville, and the cost would have been exorbitant. Northern Ontario was deemed unsuitable, mostly due to timing. This, it seemed, was our best (and last) chance.

Originally, Daryl was to shoot from the helicopter himself. He had asked me if I’d like to come along. (Actually, it was more of an assumption than an inquiry.) Due to problems getting from the helicopter to the train, and due to cost, an Ottawa CBC camera operator flew in Daryl’s place. I am a little disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to go, either.

Playing cat and mouse with a helicopter is no easy feat. I wanted a clear shot of the helicopter, preferably with the cameraman. Unfortunately, the train, the terrain, the vegetation, and the pilot didn’t always agree with me. In the end, it was a lucky shot out the vestibule window.

We arrived in Montreal on time, and shuttled to our hotel. From there, we had time to ourselves. After finishing the previous days’ journals, I went wandering through Montreal.

I love this city. I’d love to spend more time here. It’s energetic, it’s always interesting, and has some of the most beautiful buildings, streets, artwork, and people I’ve seen. The only thing better than Montreal on a sunny day is Montreal at night.

After Ivan and I partook of a meal, I wandered around a while to take pictures of the city. Montreal knows how to make itself come alive at night. It’s more than just an average city. It’s almost a living thing.


Parliament buildings
Stray cat
Montreal downtown