Anastasia (left) and me (right) enjoying the cold February weather in Ottawa / Image via Sophia Wasylinko

Back in February, I took a trip to Ontario. I’ve recovered enough to tell the tale.

Instead of staying in Nanaimo or going to Kamloops (where my family is), I decided to spend Reading Week with my sister Anastasia. Unlike me, who decided to stay in province for university, she’d headed out east to Ottawa.

Fun fact: I was born in Toronto. Lived there for about a year before moving to Saskatchewan and then BC. Despite having family in Ontario, I hadn’t had the chance or desire to visit.

Until now.

Ontario reminded me of Saskatchewan. No, really. The land was flat and covered in snow. It was considerably chillier than Nanaimo. And Carleton University reminded me of the University of Regina campus, where my best friend studied.

Ottawa isn’t as modern as Victoria, which I found myself comparing it to due to the red brick buildings and government structures. Old-school chic, with lots of history and culture.

Totally Anastasia’s vibe.

I’d expected to be overwhelmed by Ottawa, given that it’s the capital of Canada and much bigger than Nanaimo.

But I wasn’t. We took things slowly, one day at a time. It helped that Anastasia was on her Reading Week as well, so no mad rush from her place to the campus every day.

A bit about Anastasia: She is child #2 (after me), majoring in Music Performance and minoring in Korean. She’s active in the Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) and happily dating. Likes K-pop, loves Tolkien, and is very cheerful and outgoing. Start a conversation with her, and she’ll soon be laughing hysterically.

She was a great tour guide, humoring me as I stopped to stare or snap pictures of everything, like the tourist that I was.

Besides getting to visit Ottawa, it was fun just being with her, doing sister things together: cooking, watching YouTube, and having serious discussions about life.

Since this is supposed to be a travelogue and not just an essay about Anastasia, here’s a quick overview of what we did:

19th – Arrived, saw Anastasia’s digs, had poutine from the Great Canadian Poutinerie

20th – Family Day, so everything essential was closed. Bought books (Black Squirrel) and coffee (Bridgeman’s) and walked around the neighborhood.

21st – Carleton Campus tour. Groceries and a night in with Anastasia’s friend Erin: Chinese food, hair dye, Say Yes to the Dress, and Forensic Files.

22nd – Parliament tour with MP Frank Caputo’s executive assistant Stephanie Rennick. Ash Wednesday Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, then beavertails and “Obama Bakery” coffee at Byward.

23rd – Canadian Museum of Nature. One of several (expensive) museums in Ottawa. Nice galleries—my favorite was the dinosaurs. Watched the extended version of Fellowship of the Rings with the CCO peeps.

24th – Stepped foot inside my first new province: Quebec. Spent the whole day at Gatineau’s Canadian Museum of History, the biggest museum I’ve ever visited. BC, you need to step up your museum game! Later showed our solidarity with Ukraine at an emotional—but freezing—candlelight vigil on Parliament Hill.

25th – Flea market, Kettleman’s bagels, and a rushed good-bye at the airport.

That’s where the planned part of the trip ended.

I was supposed to fly to Toronto and from there to Vancouver. My Ottawa-Toronto flight kept getting delayed, so we landed minutes after the Vancouver connection left. And due to bad weather in BC, I couldn’t leave Ontario for several days.

Luckily, we have family in Toronto.

I stayed with my teta (aunt) Asia and her family while we waited for the flights to sort themselves out. Sunday was Polish Mass and a visit from Teta Asia’s mom Czesia. I tried to speak Ukrainian with her, but I found it difficult remembering basic words and phrases. It was frustrating, and I wished I spoke more Ukrainian outside of home.

Monday was class (that I attended over Zoom) and homework. If it weren’t for assignments and my books, I would have had more time to panic.

28th – Finally arrived in Vancouver. But the drama wasn’t over. Waited forever for my checked carry-on and ended up calling a taxi from Richmond. (With my phone battery under 10%.)

Made it onto the 3:15 ferry with minutes to spare.

So, apart from that madness (which put me off traveling for the next two weeks), it was a great Reading Week. Ottawa is cute, and I want to go back for more exploring, but I wouldn’t settle there. I’m too much of an Island/BC girl.

Thanks again, Anastasia, for having me over. Next time, you’re coming here!


Sophia is a fourth-year Creative Writing and Journalism student. She was the News Editor for The Navigator last year. Outside of The Nav, Sophia volunteers with VIU Cultural Connections as a Peer Helper. Three things she wants to do in the future are: travel to Japan and Korea, attend a Stray Kids concert, and adopt one or two black cats.

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