Canada Day was held under tighter security on Parliament Hill, with the RCMP checking bags and screening visitors braving the rainy weather to celebrate their country's 148th anniversary.
It was the first major event in downtown Ottawa since Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed a ceremonial guard at the War Memorial and stormed Parliament on Oct. 22, 2014. The increased police presence was a direct response not only to that day's events, which highlighted security gaps on the Hill, but also a series of other attacks around the world linked to Islamic State militants and other jihadis.
"Looking at what is going on around the world over the last couple of months, we're definitely making sure that everybody can spend the day here on Parliament Hill and celebrate this day," said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud, who was on the grounds of the Hill alongside dozens of his officers.
While Parliament Hill has long been open to the public, there is growing pressure on the Mounties to screen all visitors before they enter the precinct.
"You can expect that it may happen a bit more often, depending on the environment. It's going to be day-by-day, depending on the events," Assistant Commissioner Michaud said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke about prosperity and security as he arrived on the Hill, mentioning two themes that are key elements of his bid for re-election in the Oct. 19 general election.
"In times of never-ending economic and political turmoil in the world, our Canada is an island of stability. At this moment in history, there is no better place to live, to work and to raise a family," Mr. Harper said in his speech to the crowd.
The Prime Minister added his thanks to the men and women in uniform who help to keep Canada "strong, united and free."
"In the Baltic and in Eastern Europe, they are supporting our friends and allies who face Russian aggression, and in Iraq and in Kuwait, they are fighting the terrorists there, to keep us safe here," Mr. Harper said, making a direct reference to the events of Oct. 22, 2014. "As we saw right here in our Parliament, this threat is everywhere in the world today."
Kevin Vickers, the former sergeant-at-arms in the House of Commons who was a member of the security team that killed Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau, was part of the celebrations in Ottawa. Still, plans to have him as a passenger in one of the Snowbirds flying over Centre Block were cancelled because of the low cloud cover.
On the Hill, there were a few Mounties in their traditional red serge posing for pictures with members of the crowd, but many more wearing neon-yellow jackets searching bags as visitors entered the grounds of Parliament. Some visitors were also checked with a portable metal detector, while Mounties patrolled the grounds with heavy weapons.
"I've got no problem with it at all, they're quite pleasant about it," said Toronto's Steve Lee, after he and his wife were screened by RCMP officers. "You don't want an [incident] today here, for sure."
The morning events in Ottawa were more sparsely attended than usual on July 1, given the early rain and the threat of thunderstorms in the afternoon.
"When I got here this morning, I thought, 'Did they cancel it and nobody told us?'" said Joy Bousquet from Espanola in northern Ontario.
Still, thousands of visitors came to Ottawa not only with umbrellas, but also with all forms of Canada gear, from temporary tattoos to Team Canada jerseys.
Ms. Bousquet and her husband, David, were dressed in yellow plastic ponchos and sitting on folding chairs on the lawn on Parliament Hill as they waited for the noon speeches, but especially the musical entertainment. The artists on stage included reggae fusion band Magic! and pop star Kiesza.
"We're proud of being Canadians, it's a celebration of all of us," Ms. Bousquet said.