Thank you so much for putting the Canadian Internship Program together so that I and other American college students can have the great experience that is and was the program! This program has honestly been life-changing in so many ways and I cannot thank you enough for selecting me for inclusion and placing me with such a great office.
There are so many different aspects of this program that I want to thank you for and hopefully I will be able to remember them all and send them to you in this email but I would like to start with my office and placement on Parliament Hill. MP Phil McColeman and his office were absolutely amazing. They were kind and caring and showed me more of Parliament than I think the vast majority of interns got to see but at the same time we got a lot of work done and I was able to help my office and truly contribute to the people of Brant and of Canada. The Legislative Assistant, Dennis Burnside, was one of the most knowledgeable people I met in Canada- especially when it came to Parliament and especially when it came to the history of Canadian government and governmental buildings. His tours of Centre Block were so far ahead of everyone else’s I would almost suggest for you to ask for one from him next time you are in Ottawa. He also really got me involved in the office’s inner workings and I was able to see how a Canadian House of Commons office works. Also, he and MP Sopuck’s LA and OA are great friends so I was able to spend a good deal of time with that office which was great and gave me another deep view into a Parliamentarian’s office. I could go on and on about the great experience that he helped set up for me while I was working and in Ottawa and all of the great advice he gave me along the way but I imagine you are busy and I do not want to take up too much of your time. Likewise, the Office Assistant, Aline Porrior, was just as kind, caring and helpful as Dennis. Also, she was a francophone so I was able to peer into the life and mind of someone from Canada who speaks French first (even though you would never be able to tell until she tells you that’s her first language.)
Both of these staffers greatly contributed to my experience in Ottawa and I cannot thank you enough for placing me where you did! Lucas Denney, their American intern from last year, and I had coffee together a few weeks before I went up north and he gave me great advice and also told me that I was very lucky to be in the office I was. I took his advice and thought that I was lucky but I did not realize how lucky I was until I arrived and became part of such a great atmosphere. (Also, being in an office who had just had another Ohio State student, and such a great one like Lucas, was awesome as he was able to give me tons of advice that came in handy!) The Honourable Phil McColeman, MP, was also a great host. While he was a very busy man I was still able to get to know him and talk with him (and even meet his brother, who was on his first trip to Ottawa like me). My placement was perfect and I cannot thank you enough for it!
Now on to the rest of program and my time in Canada. The dorms were more than adequate and provided us great access to Ottawa. Your initial tours gave us a great first view of the city and gave us access to sights we would not have seen without you- such as the Governor-General’s residence. The rest of our Ottawa tours and meetings that you put together were just as unique and out of reach without your help and all helped give us a great experience. The Province of Quebec would have all but certainly remained a mystery to me if not for our trip to Quebec City and then subsequent stop in Montreal on our way back to Ottawa. I had heard only horror stories about the Province and Quebeckers but our first day in Quebec City destroyed my expectations. Quebeckers were so much more than nice to me. Whether I attempted French (with a horrible accent I know, though I did get to practice a ton and even order meals in the language) or just spoke English, I was always helped with a smile- in both Quebec City and Montreal. (It was nice to have Joe and Lee there to help out though if we would actually need to use French extensively.)
We were able to of course see Old Town and the National Assembly with your help but we were able to further explore Old Town Quebec City after our tour and then the next day go to the Montmorency Falls, the Citadel and see even more of the Old Town before leaving for Montreal. In Montreal we were able to stay in the McGill University dorms for a good price (the new Citadel building is at least as nice as a hotel but for less) and eat at Schwartz’s Deli and in Chinatown. We saw the Underground City, Montreal’s Old Port and used the Metro like locals. Also, possibly my favorite thing on my trip, we climbed through Mont Royale Park and saw the beautiful city skyline just as night fell on the city. It was breathtaking and one of the coolest things I have experienced in my life. Being in the park and climbing through it while gazing at the urban landscape that is Montreal was so much cooler than any other skyline view I have seen (including coming out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel in Pittsburgh and being on top of 30 Rock and the Empire State Building in New York City, among others).
In Ottawa, of course I got to see all of the Government buildings from East and Centre Block to La Prom, Confed and Justice. I was taken on a personalized and amazingly intricate tour of Centre Block by my LA and then later a tour of East Block to see the old Privy Council room and Sir John A. MacDonald’s original PM office in the wonderfully Victorian building. The rest of Ottawa was explored to the best of my ability whether it be it the Notre-Dame Basillica, Rideau Canal, Little Italy, Chinatown, National Gallery, War
Museum, Nature Museum, Byward Market, Gatineau, Meech Lake and Chelsea in Quebec or whatever else.
This trip was phenomenal, and the others on the trip helped make it so. I knew some of my fellow Buckeyes on the trip a little before we left but we became true friends in the Great White North. Not only that but I met people from across the South that I can now call friends from near my cousins in Greenville, SC to across the river from where my mother went to school in Kentucky to those in the Lone Star State so far away from my home. These people went with me to unknown places and made my Ottawa experience the grand experience that it was and is. Again, I cannot thank you enough for this opportunity and experience. I urge you to continue to come to Ohio State to put a great face to this chance of a lifetime as that is what gave me the peace of mind to apply.
As per your request I have attached my favorite photos from Canada. They are, of course as a good Buckeye, OHIO pictures from throughout my adventure as well as me touching the Monarchs throne!
Thank you so much Dr. Baker,
Sincerely, Ryan Hedrick, The Ohio State University