I took the kids to Ottawa for Canada Day last week where we were among the estimated 100,000 squeezed onto Parliament Hill for the biggest July 1 party that I’ve ever attended. I had no idea that Canada Day was so huge at the capital, and such fun! In Toronto, I typically spend the holiday doing five loads of laundry. In Ottawa the day is meant for celebrating and being out of doors. Sparks Street, the pedestrian mall, was in prep mode for almost a week in advance. The hotels were full. As soon as we arrived the day before people were asking us where were going to watch the fireworks, few resisting to share their tips for optimum viewing. In the few days I was there I met Canadians from across the country who had gathered to celebrate our nation’s birthday. That morning, the streets were full of people wearing red and white and waving Canadian flags. We came across the Mounties rehearsing in a park on the morning of the festivities, their horses uniformly black and elegant. They led the Queen in her open carriage up Elgin Street, adding the the day’s pomp and circumstance. The stage show included Marjo from Quebec and the Bare Naked Ladies from Ontario. We came back at night ignoring the self-anointed experts who said to go to Major Hill’s Park to see the fireworks. Parliament Hill was where the action was, and we didn’t want to miss a thing. As the explosion of colour burst overhead, the crowd broke out into an impromptu chorus of O Canada. The children and I joined in, our voices rising to the heavens sparkling diamond-like before us.