As we head to the Experimental Farm for our largely people-free walk, we go along the lovely Queen Elisabeth Driveway owned by the National Capital Commission. On one side is Dow’s Lake, a small man-made lake on the Rideau Canal, which is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the other side is a little park area that hosts the annual Canadian Tulip Festival, the largest of its kind in the world. The May festival that began in 1953 has a history: in 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for Canadians having sheltered the future Queen Juliana and her family for the preceding three years in the Second World War. Since then, the Dutch royal family has continued to send tulip bulbs to Canada’s capital each year – a lasting gift known as the “Tulip Legacy” that inspired the festival. The tulip is Ottawa’s official flower.
It is a lovely drive, and if Spring ever comes, we will be treated to the view of all those beautiful tulips and reminded of their history. However, every day we are treated to what to us seems to be an architectural abomination and evidence of a lamentable lack of both city planning and respect of by-laws. Marring the symmetry of the row of elegant old houses looking down upon the National Capital Commission parkland is a huge house built upon the land of two former houses, and resembling nothing so much as an upscale grocery store. It irritates me every time we pass it. However, the photo above shows that the inhabitants have something to say to those of us who notice their house. For now, I forgive them the structure behind the sign.
In our neighbourhood there was some early pot and pan banging at 7.00 each evening to tell the front line workers they were appreciated, but little by little it diminished and then ceased. So the recent announcement of the Ontario government was heartening: for the next four months front-line workers will receive a $4 per hour salary increase as part of a temporary payment to recognize their their dedication, long hours and the health risks associated with COVID-19. Those working more than 100 hours a month will receive lump sum payments of $250 per month. This support comes rather late in the long list of government support packages, but when criticized, the premier credited additional federal government support for finally making it possible. It is heartening to see cooperation, not sniping, between the various levels of government.