Going down Canada’s Memory Lane

Image: Allison Kurz

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Canada has a rich history, full of wars, cultures, injustices, dating all the way back to the European discovery.The secondary 4’s got to go to Ottawa and learn about the politics, court systems and the history of our country.

Canada has a constitutional monarchy. That means that we have a queen, but we also have a parliament that they make all the decisions. Our government has a house of commons. These representatives of the house of commons are all elected. The members of the house of commons spend the day debating possible future laws. Then if the majority of the members agree with the law it gets sent to the senate.

Image: Allison Kurz
Supreme Court of Canada

 

The senate is a group of individuals who have been appointed (chosen) by the current or past Prime Ministers. They are the final group who has to give their say, before the Governor General signs the bill and it is passed as a law. 

The first stop of the day was the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada gets over 600 cases a year, but only 80 cases reach this level of  court every year. The nine judges go through all the cases and pick the ones they are going to try during the next year. The first activity of the day was a mock trial in the actual courts of appeal.

During this trial, there was a student playing a judge, a victim, a defendant, a crown lawyer, a defence lawyer and the rest of the students were jury members. We played out a theft case.

Then they went to  the room that is known as the judges gallery, where my classmates and I learned about the history of the judges.

 

Originally there were only 6 members of the Supreme Court, but since there was an even number of judges, several cases had split decisions, which meant that there was no verdict. They added a judge to make the number of judges an odd number. Therefore, there could never be a split decision. We currently have nine judges. If a judge has a bias in a case or cannot be present in a case, another judge must also step down so that there is still an odd number of judges.

Unfortunately, up until 1982 the Supreme Court consisted only of men. The first female Supreme Court judge was Bertha Wilson, she was appointed by Pierre-Elliot Trudeau. Additionally she was also the first woman appointed to be a judge in the court of appeals in Ontario. The first woman to become Chief Justice was Beverly McLachlin. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1988 by Brian Mulroney and in 2000 was made Chief Justice by Jean Chrétien. Currently there are 4 women in the Supreme Court.

Image: Allison Kurz
House of Commons

The second stop of the day was Parliament Hill. Currently, the main building at parliament is under construction, therefore the House of Commons and Senate have been relocated. Our class went into the current House of Commons. They have built a glass ceiling above what used to be a courtyard between 2 of the parliament buildings. We also learned the real reason why the capital was moved to Ottawa.

Originally, the capital was located in Montreal, but due to violent protests, during Lord Elgin’s tenure, the capital was moved to Ottawa . Furthermore, having the capital on a body of water that is accessible by other countries, for example the U.S.,was deemed a safety threat to the Province of Canada and its government.

Doorway to House of Commons

During our visit we also got to see where Justin Trudeau and his ministers do their press releases, Did you know that these press releases are done in the doorway that leads straight into the House of Commons?

Image: Isabella D’Alessio
Room of Remembrance

 

We also got to see the Room of Remembrance which is a room dedicated to all the fallen soldiers.

In this room there is a book with every single name of known soldiers who have died fighting for our country. Everyday a page is flipped, so that all the soldiers get recognized for their sacrifices. 

 

 

The centennial flame, also known as the eternal flame, is a monument that was built in 1967 exactly 100 years after confederation. This was meant to be a temporary monument, but it quickly became a tourist attraction. Each province and territory is represented by a coat of arms and the year that they joined Canada. The only territory that is not included is Nunavut since it separated from the Northwest Territories in 1999. 

Image: Isabella D’Alessio
Eternal Flame

The war museum was the final stop of the day. This museum was opened in 2005 as a way to remember all the wars that Canada has participated in and all the soldiers who have fought. The museum had four sections, the first is early wars in Canada, the second is the South African and First World Wars, the third is the Second World War, and the fourth is anything from the Cold War to the present. 

Image: Isabella D’Alessio
Machine Gun

One of the things we saw was the machine gun, shown on the left, could fire 450 rounds a minute that could range at 1800 meters. This specific machine gun was used by the Germans, to kill enemy soldiers in the trenches. As WW1, progressed, these became more and more common, making it hard for soldiers to successfully attack and defeat their enemies.

Image: Isabella D’Alessio
Tank

 

 

Another type of ammunition that we saw was the top three tanks during WW2, one that was used by the Canadians, one by the Soviet Union and the last one was used by Germans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also got to see one of Hitler’s parade cars. Following WW2, many soldiers confiscated various objects. Hitler’s car was one of those objects. It was later sold to a Canadian collector who wanted the car  to remain in Canada, and he decided to donate it to the war museum.

Image: Isabella D’Alessio
Hitler’s Parade Car

This trip to Ottawa has taught me so much about Canada’s history. It has allowed me to  appreciate living in Canada. Let’s honor and remember the people who have made Canada what it is today. Let’s be proud to be Canadian.