David de Weerdt drove nearly six hours through the cold and then the snow yesterday to help bring a warm welcome to U.S. President Barack Obama on his first official visit to Canada.

“I’m not going because I expect to shake his hand or meet him personally or anything of that sort,” de Weerdt said from his car yesterday as he drove to Ottawa from his home in Kitchener, Ont. “I really am just concerned that the world sees the real character of Canadians when he comes to visit.”

De Weerdt, 47, said he had been planning for weeks to join the crowd hoping to catch a glimpse of the presidential motorcade — maybe even a wave from the man himself — as it speeds up Parliament Hill just before noon today.

Obama T-shirts, Obama specialty coffee beans and even an Obama burger heralded the president’s imminent arrival as well-wishers planned rallies and police raised barricades yesterday.

Security will be tight around the city during the first official foreign visit Obama makes as president.

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean will meet him at Ottawa International Airport around 10:30 a.m. after he arrives for a whirlwind visit to the capital.