Day 70. Monday 8 July. Ottawa to Wendover. Ontario

We were hoping to catch up with Kevin the Ottawa Land Rover club President, before venturing into the city. For whatever reason, sadly, it didn’t happen.

On the way out of the Wesley Clover camp site I popped into the office to inform the staff that it was one of the worst campsites we have experienced in Canada. A very poor reflection on the city. Call me grumpy but for $50 one would expect toilet paper in the loo’s, soap in the dispensers and showers that were habitable. It was filthy and unkempt. 

Our first stop was the Aviation and Space Museum on the outskirts of the city. A great museum with a wide spread of aircraft exhibited from the very first flight in Canada in a Wright Brothers looking Silver Dart, to reasonably recent fighter aircraft. Specimens from Canada, Britain, Germany the US and Russia.  Pride of place must have been the Avro Lancaster. Canada manufactured hundreds of them and Canadian airmen flew them from the UK in WW2.

Included in the displays was a stature of of “Buzz” Beurling DSO, DFC, DFM & Bar. Beurling earned a reputation in his early flying career in the UK, as an aloof, ungovernable pilot and was shipped to Malta where a Squadron Leader thought he would be just the bloke they needed in Malta. Malta was considered a suicide posting. And so it proved to be his making.

He perfected the principle of ‘deflection shooting’ and was able to calculate the speed of his own aircraft with the speed of his opponent and fire suitably far ahead of his target to perfectly intersect the bullets with the target. Over a 14day period in 1942 he was credited with 27 confirmed shot down. He earned the nickname, the Falcon of Malta. After the war he entered and fought with Israeli airforce but was suspiciously killed during an aircraft delivery flight. A number of NZ pilots flew with him in Malta. 

It’s interesting how each nation learns about his own servicemen and women and the combatants of the main protagonists yet, to my discredit, I personally know very little of Canada’s massive contribution to the two main wars. I recall us cycling past a huge cemetery in Belgium I think it was, dedicated to Canadian servicemen of WW1. I do recall the raids on Dieppe in WW2, doomed before they left Britain, being led by British officers but manned by Canadian troops. Also Canada played a large part in the D Day landings on Sword beach, I think it was. 

Looking for a car park in the city was difficult. There does not seem to be any curbside parking. The car parking buildings were limited in vehicle height to 6’. An eagle eye by Jen saw a park that had a height restriction of 12’. The chaps running the Valet parking were characters, all from Africa. The supervisor told us he was from Somalia and when we questioned him about security of driving through his country.

He said “we have a new Prime Minister who is very good and he is bringing stability”. Sounds promising. Bridget & Topher, who we communicated with while they were in the America’s last year, have just arrived in Alexandria, Egypt. Having driven from South Africa through Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, seemly without incident. So, for $20 we were able to park as long as we wanted…:)

Ottawa is a gem of a city. Canadians can be proud of their capital. It’s spectacular. The site was chosen by Queen Victoria. She obviously had a good eye because it was an unpopular choice at the time. Probably Albert was the one who was influential, if he was still alive at the time?

There are lots of street side statues of important people in Canada’s early history, both military and civilian, with ample explanation of their exploits. Parliament buildings, all three of them, dominate the skyline with their splendour.

There is a still operating Canal and Lock system, built in the early 1800’s by a military man, By. The town was known as Bytown before being renamed Ottawa.

It has a lovely vibe about the city, that we felt was lacking in Toronto. It will be interesting to see how Montreal, the next city on our route, compares. What is interesting is the increasing French influence as we head east. Street names and use of the language. It will be an increasing challenge for us, being non french speakers, who we understand are ‘less tolerated’?

I thought I might just add that the starting problems seem to have gone. Interestingly the solar panel controller is not limiting the charge to the auxiliary battery!…..could there be a link? We were hoping to get to see an Auto Electrician. Maybe tomorrow? 

Leaving Ottawa at 4.30pm got us into heavy traffic but we slowly worked our way through it and headed east on Highway 17. A lesser road to Montreal. Again a camping place is on the agenda. After a couple of false alarms we saw a sign on the left side of the road.

Driving through the small settlement of Wendover, a couple were sitting on a grassy area outside a church beside their caravan. Mmmmm. I pulled in and asked them if there was space beside them? They had an area roped off but said we were welcome to camp on the other side of their cordon. Freshly mown and on what appears to be Post Office land, we are established. 

Jen’s cooking baked beans, mushrooms and eggs on toast. Yum. Washed down with a big mug of hot tea. Last night it was pink Trout!! Pink trout? I know, from a Salmon/Trout farm, where they feed the fish artificial colouring to make them look like wild Salmon. Trout don’t go pink, where we come from. It tasted great though. Sorry, but you are too far away to share…:)

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