The morning of Day Two had me visiting with Kevin Waugh, MP of Saskatoon-Grasswood. I remember him from when he was on CTV reporting the sports news. Two other teachers and I sat with Kevin and talked about issues that concerned him and also matters about education today.
Our afternoon was spent touring two major sites in Ottawa: the Supreme Court of Canada and Rideau Hall. I confess that I did not know very much about either before attending.
As we stood outside the Supreme Court of Canada, we admired the architecture of this massive building. Established on April 8, 1875 and authorized by the Constitution Act of 1867, this court is the final recourse for appeals in out Canadian Justice System. Tall stairs led us to a front door that is manned once again by airport-type security that we were sadly getting used to encountering. But as soon as we walked inside, the grandeur of the building stood proud. Cream coloured columns of marble framed the foyer’s stairwells. Large emblems of “S” and “C” were intricately tiled into the floor. Beyond, giant wooden doors closed off the federal courts to the public when not in use.
Luckily, we were granted access to the court and once inside we were immediately drawn to the dark wood and deep red plush furniture. Our guide spoke to us about the process that the lawyers, defendants, plaintiffs, and judges go through when in court. What I found interesting is that neither juries nor gavels are a part of this court’s process.
Next, it was off to visit the Supreme Court room – the real prize of the tour. To access it, we walked up a few marble steps and were again met with large doors. As we entered our guide spoke with passion, but I was too preoccupied with the decor to even pay attention. Suspended from the ceiling in the room was a massive geometrical light that hung halfway down to the floor. Nine red padded chairs were positioned behind a long wooden table. This is where the judges sit. Tables off to the side are for press, if invited to attend. I was surely glad that I was not a defendant in this building!
The best part of the day was our last stop, when we visited Rideau Hall. The history of this place is amazing. Rideau Hall is home to the Governor General. The residence, the meeting room, and a museum are all found within the walls of this historic building. We walked from room to room and admired the architecture and the design while listening intently to our guide.
Adorned with baby blue walls, gold leaf molding, and a large chandelier, Rideau Hall’s ballroom is an impressive site. Here, honours are handed out and Prime Ministers are sworn in. As we walked in the floor creaked silently. We stayed off the carpet but treaded softly. The RCMP officer stationed inside (though they were invisible to us), made sure we didn’t linger too long or stray from the pack. I stood in silence as I thought of all those who had been honoured in this room and pondered about the future.
It was the next room that affected me most on a personal level. In this room orders, medals, and declarations were presented to fellow Canadians for dedication and service to their community. It is a room of motivation and inspiration, a place that my students will come to know about because one day many of them will make a difference in this world.
Perhaps one will have their photo taken and placed on that yellow wall as their story is told.
Another room is dressed in a circus tent motif. Swatches of thick, neon pink vertical stripes lined the walls. There was a time when the fabric on the walls was rolled up, a tennis net was then set up, and a game was played. It didn’t seem plausible but a black and white photo from years ago shows the net up and ready to be used.
The perfect way to end our day was spent in the sitting room of Julie Payette. It is in this room that she and the Governor Generals of our past have taken some of their personal time to reflect on a job well done. I had visions of her with her feet up, reading about outer space or climate change and relaxing after a busy day representing Canada.