Charles Dharapak/AP Photo
When U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Ottawa on Wednesday, it will be almost six years to the day since he last set foot in Canada – to attend the G8 and G20 meetings in Huntsville, Ont., and Toronto, respectively.
The President's day-long sojourn will be only his third visit to his country's northern neighbour since winning office in November, 2008, and a lot has changed since then: Canada has a new prime minister after a decade of Conservative rule, a contentious U.S. election is on the horizon this fall, and Mr. Obama has, admittedly, a lot more grey hair.
The coming visit includes a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto for the North American Leaders' Summit, the first in Canada since 2007. Mr. Obama will also give a speech to the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon.
The trip is fitting as Mr. Obama prepares to leave office: As with many past U.S. presidents, Mr. Obama's first foreign trip was to Ottawa, in February of 2009.
Here are some highlights from Mr. Obama's encounters with Canada over the years.
Charles Dharapak/AP Photo
That cookie: Who can forget the Obama cookie? The President, in search of souvenirs for his daughters, took his motorcade into Ottawa's ByWard Market during his 2009 visit. It was there he indulged his sweet tooth with one of Ottawa's culinary delicacies, the flat, fried pastry known as a BeaverTail, even trying out his own special "ObamaTail" topped with chocolate and a maple syrup "O." But his visit to French bakery Le Moulin de Provence caused the biggest stir: It was there he purchased three shortbread cookies shaped like a maple leaf, with Canada written in white icing, and shook hands with staff as he perused the baked goods. The owners later dubbed it the Obama cookie. "Everybody thinks he's going to be back," owner Claude Bonnet said this week. Mr. Bonnet hopes so: "This way I can say, thank you very much."
His French: Although he accidentally mixed up "Ottawa" with "Iowa" during his first news conference in 2009, Mr. Obama impressed the French press corps when he thanked dignitaries, including former governor-general Michaëlle Jean and then-foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon, as he stepped off Air Force One at the Ottawa airport and responded to their French greeting with a simple "merci." At the March state dinner for Mr. Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, in Washington, Mr. Obama broadened his lexicon to include "bonsoir." Maybe he'll dazzle with another phrase in Ottawa next week.
Greeting the people: On Mr. Obama's first visit to Canada, about 2,500 people waited on Parliament Hill in frigid temperatures for a glimpse of the newly inaugurated President – even though they were warned they would only see him for a brief moment as he moved from his limo to the doors of Centre Block. When the President pulled up with his motorcade, the crowd erupted into cheers and applause. Seeing this, Mr. Obama asked then-prime minister Stephen Harper, "Do you mind?" The two then walked around the limo and stood in front of the crowd – acknowledging those who had waited in the cold. Mr. Trudeau, too, is a fan of mingling with crowds, and it remains to be seen how much face time onlookers will get this time.
Sarah Dea/For The Globe and Mail
Family connection: Mr. Obama isn't merely a fan of Canadians from afar; they're family. More specifically, the President's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is married to one – Konrad Ng, of Burlington, Ont. At the state dinner in March, Mr. Obama said Mr. Ng told him were it not for the immigration policies of the elder prime minister Trudeau, his family would not have been able to immigrate to Canada. The President recalled a trip to Burlington with his wife, Michelle, to celebrate his sister's wedding, as well as visit Toronto and Niagara Falls. He joked about stumbling over the pronunciation of Mississauga – "this is always tough," the President said. "And everywhere we went, the Canadian people made us feel right at home."
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Bromance: Of course, it's been acknowledged that Mr. Obama and Mr. Trudeau share a special bond, not to mention similar approaches to everything from climate change to social media strategy. Their final meeting will likely involve a lot of old-fashioned ribbing, as was on display at the state dinner. "I think it's fair to say that, here in America, you may well be the most popular Canadian named Justin," Mr. Obama told the Prime Minister during the toasts. Mr. Trudeau capped off his speech with, "May my grey hair come in at a much slower rate than yours has." One can expect more jokes – and maybe a hug or two – when the leaders get together for the last trip to Canada before Mr. Obama leaves his post.