In short immersion programs there are weekend activities involving monitors.
Ottawa Day Trip
You will be given an itinerary before the trip, which may vary from this general outline.
Before going to Ottawa, discuss the trip with the students. For the summer, tell them to bring good shoes for walking and a hat and sunscreen. Forthe Parliament tour, their bags will be inspected and scanned like in an airport. Knives and sharp items will be confiscated. Large backpacks are not allowed. Encourage the students to use their red McGill bags, and to leave larger items on the bus.
For summer trips to Ottawa, the goal is to arrive by 10 AM on Parliament Hill to see the changing of the guard ceremony. It is quite long, and after 20 minutes, the students get the idea.
Buses usually stop at Exit 66 for a pee break, if we have school buses (summer). There are bathrooms after security in the Parliament Buildings.
- Go up to the line up area to the right of the Peace Tower and present yourself (McGill tour) to the guides there, show your reservation document for your group.
- Security has two steps – a bag check outside and scan inside. It takes time. There are public washrooms near the info desk just after passing through security.
- You have to wait for your guide in the waiting area. Inform the guide that yours is a second-language group of international students, not residents of Canada. Ask him/her to speak slowly.
- Some guides are good, but others stick to a script and are quite hard to understand. Please ask loud illustrative questions, to give your students a chance to understand what the guide is talking about: e.g. is that big green chair where the Queen sits when she visits?; are these paintings of Prime Ministers? ; are those symbols of Canadian provinces?; which one is Quebec? ; so a librarian was a hero in the big fire in 1916? etc.
- After the tour, give your group time in the gift shop.
- You don’t have time for the Peace Tower. There is always a line up with a long, long wait, and it isn’t really worth it – Ottawa is not an interesting city from above. Some guides encourage groups to go up, but ask your guide not to mention it – the students are disappointed when you say they can’t go.
- Get a group photo in front. Or at the eternal flame. If you can, walk around the back and see the library from outside and a view of the river.
Byward Market and Lunch
- Walk down Wellington from Parliament Hill.
- Take time to admire the locks of the Rideau Canal.
- Show them the bronze totem pole on George Street which is the meeting point for the bus after lunch.
- Lunch is at Palais Imperial – 313 Dalhousie Street Map
- Give them time to explore the market before or after lunch before the bus pickup. Encourage them to stay with a buddy, and remind them about the pickup time and place.
Rideau Hall is the Governor General’s official residence and the Queen’s official residence when she’s in Ottawa. The tour is self-guided, and the rooms are nice. Security to enter is very slow. It is interesting to get a map of the trees planted by visiting heads of state and have the students find the tree from their country.
Canadian Museum of History
Some groups to the Canadian Museum of History on the Gatineau side of the river. The First People’s exhibit is interesting as is the main exhibit. The views of Parliament Hill from this side are good for photos.
Quebec City Day Trip
Quebec City is a long day trip, 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
Old City exploration
Grand Allée – Parlement – Rue Saint Jean – Château Frontenac – Terrasse Dufferin – stairs to Petit Champlain – Place Royale – Musée de la Civilisation – Ferry to Lévis
Supper in Trois-Rivières – Buffet Les Continents
Saint Catherine Street Festival
In July, Saint Catherine Street closes for one weekend to convert to a pedestrian mall. It is a lot of fun to for the students to shop.
Homestay Weekend Option (August)
If the students choose the homestay option for the optional weekend, they will meet their host families on the Monday before that weekend. Their monitors will bring them to the room where the meetings will take place (usually 1047 in 688 Sherbrooke) after supper that evening. Those monitors will be called upon to help setup and organize this meeting.
The homestay monitors should take the time to meet all the families, too, as you will be handing your students off to them on Friday.
On the Friday after 4 PM, the host families will picking them up from the residence. The homestay monitors will check off the students as they are picked up and will contact any late families. As you greet the families, you’ll confirm the dropoff time on Sunday.
During the weekend, relax, but remain on standby, in case something comes up and the student needs to contact you.
On the Sunday, receive the students from the families as they arrive. Please thank the hosts before they leave. Check in with each student about how it went.
Toronto-Niagara Falls Optional Weekend (August)
Beach on Ile Notre Dame