Tomorrow my big project will be discussed by Cabinet, so today I had to go to Parliament Hill to do a run-through as I'll be flipping the slides for the Minister's presentation. I haven't been there in ages and much has changed. After the shooting a couple of years ago security was tightened considerably. Instead of walking in through the front door, I had to go to a basement entrance and go through screening. Then I was given free access to go to the Cabinet room, which is weird. I expected I would be escorted. Mind you, there were many security guards everywhere.
The run-through itself was fine and I took the time on the way out to appreciate the architecture. It's a beautiful Victorian building with heraldic carvings and gargoyles everywhere. Even walking back down the hill and across the lawn to find a taxi was nice. In the good old days, you could call a cab right to the front door, but now they aren't allowed on the premises.
When I first started working for the House of Commons as a secretary (back in 1989) things were even more relaxed. My very first day of work someone hijacked a Greyhound bus and drove it onto the lawn. http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/another-incident-involving-a-gunman-on-parliament-hill
. Before that, you have to go back to 1966, when a man accidentally blew himself up in a public toilet in the Centre Block instead of "exterminating as many Members [of the House of Commons] as possible" according to a note found after the incident.
My view today was a bit snowier:
This is the main entrance area. It leads to the absolutely gorgeous round library overlooking the Ottawa River from atop a cliff (the only part that survived a huge fire in 1917). It's what I took a few minutes to admire today:
And although security is much tighter than it was a few years ago, it's still a very popular place. Yoga on the lawn every Wednesday at noon is de riguer for trendy fitness folks:
. Of course it is THE place to be on Canada Day (I avoid it after about 11 am because the entire downtown is crammed with tens of thousands of visitors, even though there are amazing live performances during the day and evening, and fireworks I can see from my house at night). When I worked downtown, I always tried to be outside at noon so I could hear the daily mini-concert by the Dominion Carilloner, playing the bells in the Peace Tower.
Some days, I have a pretty cool job.