Tourists visiting Parliament Hill can expect to catch a glimpse of the Peace Tower or the Changing of the Guard, but on Sunday they were treated to a different sight, as the visiting Edmonton Eskimos turned an extended layover in Ottawa into a sightseeing tour.
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"We stuck out a little bit," Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly said during his team's practice on Tuesday. "We were definitely a little bigger than most of the other people that were there."
The visiting Western conference team isn’t scheduled to play the hometown Ottawa Redblacks until Friday evening, but their home stadium is currently being used as a venue for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
With nowhere to practice, the team is on an extended nine-day road trip and spending the bulk of it in Ottawa.
As part of a team-building exercise, the team used their day off to go on a tour of Parliament Hill. Decked out in their yellow and green team colours, the team spent the day studying politics rather than the playbook.
The team also attracted attention on social media, where Edmonton Eskimo players were actively posting pictures and comments on Twitter and Instagram, in the hopes of sharing the trip with their friends, family and fans.
Players reconnect to Ottawa
With the return of the CFL to Ottawa, the nation's capital is once again a tour stop for the Eskimos, who played their last game here in July 2005 when they took on the Ottawa Renegades. So for many players, it's a chance to reacquaint themselves with the city.
Edmonton safety Ryan Hinds said this wasn’t his first time in Ottawa, but it’s the first time he’s noticed all the city has to offer.
"What I'm noticing is Ottawa is just a very, very beautiful city," the Toronto native said. "It's got a lot of historic things, just a lot to learn about the country so you kind of feel like you're in a really important place."
Some players also used the tour as an an opportunity to learn about Canadian politics and history — something many of the American-born players appreciated.
"I live here six months out of the year," Reilly, originally from Washington state, said. "It's nice to know a little bit about the country that you live in, that you visit all the time."
The tour also served as a time to relax and take a break from the game and play tourist for the day, instead.
"To start the day like that, just hanging out with our road family, the football team, you know it just brings everybody closer together," Reilly said.
With the game quickly approaching, players said their focus has now shifted to the upcoming game, but some players are hoping to explore more of sights and sounds of the city during their stay.