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From far and wide: urban campers pitch tents in Ottawa for Canada Day

July 1, 2017 2:46 PM
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From far and wide: urban campers pitch tents in Ottawa for Canada Day

The City of Ottawa expects 760 people to pitch tents and park RVs at 4 urban camping locations

The people at Ottawa's urban campgrounds came from far and wide across Canada — whether on a cross-country road trip or a special trip just to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Campers arrived Thursday and Friday at four locations across the Ottawa area. Some set up at the Tom Brown Arena just west of downtown and only a few kilometres from the action on Parliament Hill.

Left to right: Marsha, Nolan, Sydney and Ness Ryan drove from Toronto to Ottawa in the early morning on Thursday to set camp at Tom Brown Arena for urban parking. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

The Ryan family came from Toronto early Thursday morning to create some special family memories.

"We got here at about 9 a.m., that's after driving through the night, because we were really excited, anxious to be here for the 150th. The kids are just at the right age that they can remember and tell their kids and grandkids about it. That's something we've looked forward to for a while," Ness Ryan said.

His daughter Sydney appreciates the special anniversary the family is marking.

"I think that the 150th is the only time I'm going to come to Ottawa to do it, because the 200th I'll be too old to come," she said, though she admitted she might come back in the city for an odd-numbered Canada Day.

Ness' wife Marsha said the family regularly camps, but hasn't done it in the city before and appreciates that there is little mud on the sports field next to the Tom Brown Arena.

Ness said this is the 13th year since his family immigrated from Trinidad and Tobago to Canada and it's special to mark the national anniversary in the capital.

The Hardeman family, in front from left to right, Jeremy, Julianna and Christopher, with parents Angela and Scott Hardeman from Dorchester, Ont. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

The Hardeman family from Dorchester, Ont. arrived on Friday. The children — 12-year-old Jeremy, 9-year-old Christopher and 6-year-old Julianna — were pumping the mattresses with air in the family tent early Friday evening.

"It's not very fun, but at least you get to sleep on it," Jeremy said.

The kids are all looking forward to visiting Parliament Hill. Julianna is particularly excited for Saturday night's fireworks.

Angela Hardeman said she was hoping her children would have memories they could think about in 50 years. They were dealing with the bugs and rain Friday afternoon.

"So far so good, we'll see what it's like in a couple of days," she said. "We're a big hockey family. All three of these guys are goalies so we live in hockey arenas, so we figured, why not camp outside one?"

Alanna Single from Winnipeg lounges on a hammock hung between two trees in the parking lot of the Tom Brown Arena. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Alanna Single and her friends from Winnipeg have been on a camping road trip in Atlantic Canada for much of June, taking advantage of free camping at national parks as part of Canada 150 celebrations. She decided to stop in Ottawa to see what kind of show would be on for Canada's 150th in the nation's capital.

"Probably going to the Hill is the plan. It looks like they have a lot of things lined up. So, hopefully, we'll be able to spend the entire day there and take in the big firework show at the end of the day," Single said.

She said bug spray and a positive mindset can get people through the unusual parts of urban camping, as she hung out in a hammock that she strung between two trees in the arena parking lot.

"A little different, but I mean, I have my hammock set up here. It's pretty similar in that sense. If I close my eyes and don't hear the traffic, I can pretend I'm in Cape Breton," she said.

Husband and wife Jonathan and Erica Miranda set up their extra-large tent after a trip from Mississauga.

"We kind of decided last minute, to be honest. Accommodations, like the prices were pretty crazy for what people were asking for just, like, a shared room on Airbnb," Erica said. "This one just came up that a friend of a friend had booked it. So we lucked out."

Cory Jackshaw was in Montreal for Canada's Centennial year in 1967, though he says he has no memory of it because he was about four years old.

He, his wife Shelley and their two daughters are on a cross-country road trip from Edmonton to Prince Edward Island and decided to stop in Ottawa for a "once in a lifetime event."

"It's great," Shelley said. "We're nice and close to Parliament Hill and it's not too crowded, so hopefully we'll be able to enjoy ourselves."

One of the Jackshaw daughters was particularly excited about Shawn Mendes, though Cory is concerned about the long lines for security on Parliament Hill.

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