Thousands cheer on as Queen visits Ottawa
OTTAWA - Thousands turned out as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh toured a nature museum and unveiled a statue during a moving ceremony in the national capital Wednesday.
The Royal Couple was welcomed by cheering crowds on a blustery, cool but predominantly sunny day as they started filling a chock-a-block schedule of activities in Ottawa.
It was the second leg of Her Majesty's 22nd Canadian visit.
Their first stop was the newly restored Canadian Museum of Nature, where Her Majesty unveiled a plaque dedicating a tower known as The Queens' Lantern.
The lantern is a just-opened glass addition replacing the original centrepiece tower of the Victoria Memorial Museum Building, built in 1910. It is dedicated to the 84-year-old monarch and her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, after whom the building is named.
The Queen and 89-year-old Prince Philip signed the guestbook, listened to a choir, chatted with some of its members and met volunteers who helped preserve the building, designated a national historic site.
A female museum guard gushed "she's beautiful" before snapping a picture.
Outside, pipers played and dancers danced. The crowd was upbeat. A protester in black bear suit carried sign declaring God Save the Bears.
As she emerged from the old stone edifice, children lined up one-by-one and presented the smiling Queen with bouquets and individual flowers. Wearing an turquoise ensemble with a wide-brimmed hat, she then approached the crowd, who gave her more flowers.
A girl about age 6 sat on her father's shoulders, repeatedly chirping: "Welcome to Canada!"
There were at least five of the Queen's beloved breed of corgi dogs in attendance, with two getting a seat of honour in an area cordoned off for media. Two others were being held in their owners' arms in the crowd. The Queen missed them, walking down the opposite flank instead.
The Royal Couple also unveiled a life-sized, privately funded bronze statue of jazz virtuoso Oscar Peterson at the National Arts Centre. The statue sits on the corner of Elgin and Wellington streets, in the shadow of the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill.
The sculpture by Ruth Abernethy of Wellesley, Ont., depicts a smiling Peterson seated casually at a grand piano. The Montreal-born musician serenaded audiences worldwide before he died in 2007, including the Royal Couple during 2002's Golden Jubilee celebrations in Toronto.
"Oscar Peterson is a Canadian cultural treasure," said Heritage Minister James Moore. He dubbed the legendary pianist "Canada's musical ambassador."
The Queen met Peterson's widow, Kelly Peterson, and daughter Celine before listening to the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir sing Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom." Moore called Peterson's signature piece "a beautifully expressed wish for unity, for peace, and for dignity for all mankind -- values that Canadians all hold dear."
The expansive crowd was dotted with Maple Leaf flags. Digital cameras popped over heads. Children passed flowers into Her Majesty's white-gloved hands as she walked among them.
The Queen greeted invited well-wishers at the Governor General's residence before using a silver spade to heft three small shovels full of dirt in quick succession under a Red Oak.
There are more than 120 trees planted by the Royal Family, heads of state and other dignitaries at Rideau Hall. It was the fifth by the Queen.
Later the Duke of Edinburgh was meeting members of the 144-year-old Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, of which he is colonel-in-chief. The Queen was having an audience with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
She was unveiling the design for the Diamond Jubilee Window for the Senate, commemorating her 60-year reign to be celebrated in 2012, and Queen Victoria's, celebrated in 1897. She was also unveiling the design for a carving of herself to be displayed in the Senate foyer.
The Royal Couple was concluding the day by hosting a garden reception at Rideau Hall.
Upon entering the refurbished museum shortly after their arrival in Ottawa, the Royal Couple walked across a tile mosaic of a bull moose that has only recently been reintroduced to the public. The mosaic was covered in the 1950s after complaints from a Roman Catholic nun that the anatomically correct moose was inappropriate for visiting schoolchildren.
The Queen then viewed a maquette of the museum grounds and received a description of the building's history.
At a nearby table, the Royal Couple viewed a stuffed snowy owl and wolverine, a huge amethyst crystal from Thunder Bay, Ont., and preserved plants collected by Sir Robert Parry in the Arctic in 1822.
Her Majesty looked sternly at the wolverine, which was posed standing upright on hind legs with teeth bared, but the Duke laughed and appeared quite taken with the animal.
She then ascended by elevator to the fourth floor to view the glass Queen's Lantern. The building's original tower was removed after it began sinking and pulling away from the building more than 80 years ago.
They also viewed the skeleton of a blue whale and met children gathered at an interactive play area. Prince Philip strolled over to chat with several boys and girls lined up along a mock parapet, then leaned down to speak with several young girls in a toy boat.
The couple began the day in Halifax, where they helped plant an English oak tree on the grounds of Nova Scotia's Government House.
One of the highlights of the Queen's tour took place Tuesday when she reviewed a flotilla of coast guard vessels and international warships as part of the Canadian navy's centennial.
The Royal Couple attend Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill at noon on Thursday. Performers include the Bare Naked Ladies; Quebec pop star Isabelle Boulay; bagpipers The Campbell Brothers, and Newfoundland Indie rock band Hey Rosetta!. The Queen gives an address and conducts a walkabout.
She has an audience with Liberal Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff on Friday.
The trip ends July 6 after stops in Winnipeg, Waterloo, Ont., and Toronto.