An ambassador's Fourth
Well, if you’re anybody in Ottawa you’re probably invited to the U.S. ambassador's residence this afternoon. That's where Ambassador David Wilkins and his wife Susan are, as he puts it, “hosting three thousand of our closest friends” at their annual Fourth of July celebrations.
To give you another sense of the scale, the catering staff had to resort to golf carts to move around the four-hectare site and set up the five beverage and seven food tents.
The theme of this year’s party is an “Old Fashion Southern Picnic." On the menu: fried chicken, pulled smoked pork, pimento cheese sandwiches, potato salad, mini-hamburgers and hot dogs and even homemade, churned ice cream. Guests will be able to leave with some boiled peanuts grown by one of the ambassador's old college roommates.
The white balcony of the residence has been draped in American flags. The big dining tent was set up with white plastic tables and checkered red and white tablecloths. On each is a centerpiece: a basket of daisies and small American and Canadian flags.
For practical considerations, eight port-a-potties line the perimeter of the lawn, next to the ambassador’s greenhouse and vegetable garden. There are flowers planted around the garden that are to help keep the bugs away and, yes, the ambassador weeds it himself.
In the winter, the vegetable garden becomes an ice skating rink.
The residence was built in 1908 and has housed every American ambassador since it was bought by the U.S. government in 1935.
The 32-room mansion has three floors and a finished basement. There are six bedrooms, including the President’s Room on the second floor where President George W. Bush slept during a visit two years ago.
Ambassador Wilkins says his wife was allowed to choose the wall colours in the residence, and while the furniture was already there when they moved in, all of the accessories belong to the Wilkins. Functioning wood-burning fireplaces are found in nearly every room and the country-chic style has a nice homey feel.
Most of the art work comes from a program called Art in Embassies, and the Wilkins have chosen pieces that spotlight their home state of South Carolina. In the soft yellow living room hangs a portrait of Andrew Jackson, the only American president from South Carolina, and in the drawing room there are a number of family photos, including pictures with President Bush and a photograph from the recent visit of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Twenty can sit comfortably in the deep pink dinning room and rounded staircases take guests up to the second and third floors.
From there a few creaking steps take you up to a rooftop patio. It allows an impressive view of the convergence of the Gatineau and Ottawa Rivers and is a place where lucky guests can see the sun set over the Gatineau Hills.
- The "Welcome to the Cheque Republic" buttons were popular at last weekend's Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner. And now there's a website. Today, the Liberals launched www.chequerepublic.ca. It seems the oversized novelty cheque story has had an entirely unanticipated stimulus effect --... Continue reading this post
- Just a Small Detail
- What a curious omission. Yesterday, CBC contacted the office of Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt to ask about the lobbyist who helped organize a fundraiser on her behalf on Sept. 24. Michael B. McSweeney is vice-president of the Cement Association... Continue reading this post