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When U.S. President Barack Obama was sworn in

The story of Barack Obama's ascent to the White House was compelling to people all over the world, including many Canadians.

Historic ceremony watched closely in the U.S., Canada and around the world

Barack Obama's Inauguration Day

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12 years agoVideo
3:17
On Jan. 20, 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as president in the United States. 3:17

The inspiring story of Barack Obama's ascent to the White House was compelling to people from all over the world, including many Canadians.

The Hawaiian-born son of a Kenyan father and American mother had risen through state and federal politics to win the presidency and take the White House back for the Democrats.

In doing so, Obama had also put his name in the history books as the first black American elected president

His inauguration took place in front of a crowd of more than 1 million people who gathered in Washington to witness the historic occasion on Jan. 20, 2009.

Barack Obama, left, joined by his wife Michelle, takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts to become the 44th president of the United States at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in this Jan. 20, 2009 file photo. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

Obama, then 47, was sworn in with his wife, Michelle, at his side. And after taking the oath of office, he spoke about what his own story meant for the country he was about to lead.

"This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath," Obama said in his inaugural address. 

A new neighbour in Washington

The PM congratulates the new president

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12 years agoVideo
0:20
Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent his congratulations to U.S. President Barack Obama. 0:20

From north of the border, Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent his congratulations to the new U.S. president, saying he expected to build on Canada's friendship with its closest neighbour.

Within a month of taking office, Obama would travel to Canada for his first official trip abroad — one of three visits he would make north of the border during his eventual two terms as president.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama during a during a photo-op on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Feb. 19, 2009. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Harper and Obama, of course, would go on to meet on repeated occasions on this continent and others, as the White House did not see a new president in the Oval Office throughout the prime minister's remaining six years at the helm of the Canadian government.

But on the day of Obama's inauguration, Canadians across the country took note of the historic day as well, as they gathered in homes, schools and city squares to watch the ceremony together.

Canadians react to the Obama inauguration

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12 years agoVideo
2:26
In 2009, the Obama inauguration captured the interest of many Canadians. 2:26

'You believe in him'

The Obama inauguration was also watched around the world — and not just by Americans away from home.

In Britain, France and Germany, news cameras captured images of crowds cheering as they watched the inauguration proceedings.

Watching the Obama inauguration

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12 years agoVideo
1:48
The inauguration ceremony for U.S. President Barack Obama was watched by people around the world. 1:48

Many watching his inauguration from afar seemed to see hope in the change of leadership in Washington, following eight years of the tumultuous presidency of George W. Bush.

"He looks full of integrity and he really does want to do well," said a British woman trying to describe the potential she felt she saw in Obama, when speaking with the CBC's Adrienne Arsenault in London.

"You believe in him, you believe he really will try and change things."

Many people took the opportunity to pose with a lifelike, wax figure of Barack Obama at London's Madame Tussauds wax museum on the day of the U.S. president's inauguration in 2009. (The National/CBC Archives)

For the inauguration, Americans were offered free admission to the well-known Madame Tussauds wax museum in London.

Those who took up the offer were able to pose with a lifelike wax figure of the new president that Arsenault reported had been "so lovingly mauled" that day, "it may soon need to go in for maintenance."

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