As the day was turning into night, 25 Algonquin students equipped with cameras and warm coats got together at the Terry Fox memorial to enjoy a walk through Ottawa’s most significant spots.
The students, most of whom arrived to Canada just a few weeks ago, got a chance to become “tourists for a day” during the free two-hour walking tour organized by the AC Hub on Sept. 29.
First-year interactive media design student from India, Snowy Sethi, was one of them.
“Thanks to the tour, I found that Canada is related to India in so many ways,” said Sethi. “We have same monuments and heroic tales too. That’s the interesting thing.”
The tour that introduced its participants to such iconic places as Parliament Hill, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, the Rideau Canal and the prime minister’s office, replaced the double decker bus tour that was previously held on the first day of school.
This year, organizers decided to move the event to the end of September and to make some adjustments to the route of the tour taking into consideration the previous experiences.
“We did a double decker bus tour on the first day of school, it was popular, but it was harder to get students on board because they didn’t really know what was going on,” said Susan Pridmore, organizer of the event.
According to Pridmore, the double decker tour had several drawbacks that the organizers wanted to fix in this year’s walking tour to provide students with a better experience.
“Last year we didn’t get off the bus, and there were so many new students on campus”, said Pridmore. “So I thought it would be such a great idea to get off the bus, to go and take pictures, get some history and for new students to walk around and see Parliament Hill, the Library and the ByWard Market.”
Compared to the double decker tour with about 40 students on board, the walking tour involved just 25 participants, thus providing students with a more intimate atmosphere.
“It’s always a challenge with big groups because some of the students are 50 feet away and you have to yell to make sure they understood you,” said Raphael Grossenbacher who has been guiding walking tours since May 2016. “With small groups it’s always easier to discuss.”
Grossenbacher said that the most rewarding part of the experience was meeting new people, guiding them, seeing different interactions and explaining why Ottawa is a capital.
“It’s always interesting to see students’ reaction as Ottawa was a weird choice for a capital,” said Grossenbacher. “And the fact that it was not political, it was very rural is always a fun story to tell.”
After the tour came to an end, Grossenbacher was well rewarded with a wave of applause from the content students.
“Although it was too cold, I enjoyed the tour,” said Sethi, shivering as she was walking in the direction of the Rideau Canal.