In planning my trip I was determined to see a game of NHL ice hockey. Along with drag racing, speedway tracks and polar bears, it was one of those North American experiences I really wanted to notch up. I stalked websites waiting for the draw to be released. I saw a game was scheduled in Ottawa that would tie in nicely with the end of my trip. I planned an overnight excursion especially for that, on the basis that I would sort a ticket later when they were released.
What I didn’t count on was a lockout which resulted in the cancellation of the entire 2004-2005 NHL season. It was to be the first time since 1919 that the Stanley Cup wasn’t awarded. Awesome.
While I couldn’t believe my bad timing, I decided to go up to Ottawa anyway.
After my final Greyhound ordeal from Winnipeg to Toronto I overnighted in the same hostel where I began my trip, and caught a train north the following morning. The trip took around 5 hours. It was mostly wet and I had an obscured view – and when I did wander to the rear of the train for a look I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed by the scenery.
Somewhere between Toronto and Ottawa
I had booked into a hostel which used to be the city’s main jail for more than a century until its closure in 1972. Such history was an irresistible pull.
My hostel, the old jail
Clearly such a building would not have elevators so had to hump the bags up four flights of stairs to get to my six bed jail cell dorm, which had retained a lot of its charm from its former life. That evening I went on their daily tour of other parts of the building. It was a prison where hangings took place, three apparently, and the hangman’s noose remains today. Though well fenced off!
Where naughty tourists are sent
With less than 24 hours in Ottawa, I got out on foot to see as much as possible.
The Rideau Canal is the oldest continuously operated canal in North America
The Peacekeeping Monument
On Parliament Hill: the Peace Tower with Centennial Flame
Poking around the old carbide mill on Victoria Island between Ottawa and Hull
Halloween is nigh
Gorgeous autumn (oops, fall) colours
View over the Ottawa River
Alexandra Bridge over the Ottawa River into Quebec
And so this was about as close as I got to ice hockey.
Monument to a famous Canadian hockey player from the 1950s
Despite the hockey disappointment it was still a worthwhile trip. I even won $5 in the Canadian lottery. But with only a couple of nights left on North American soil it was time to scoot back down to Toronto.