OTTAWA - Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean, President Barack Obama and a file of red-clad Mounties were featured in the main photo on the White House home page ( on Thursday.

The photo was taken just moments after Obama landed for his brief, but busy Ottawa visit and was promptly uploaded to the president's Web site.


Presidential southpaw signs in

President Barack Obama used his trademark backhand to sign the visitor's book in the rotunda under the Peace Tower and joked about how awkward it looks.

"Has someone mentioned I'm a southpaw and it always looks funny on TV?" he asked as Prime Minister Stephen Harper looked on.

Southpaw or not, he left a bold, looping signature.


Swell bells

As President Barack Obama's motorcade rolled onto Parliament Hill, the bells of the Peace Tower pealed out America the Beautiful.

Andrea McCrady, who gave up a medical career in Spokane, Wash., to become the dominion carillonneur, played a program through the lunch hourt hat included One in the Spirit, by Peter Scholtes, Once to Every Man and Nation, by T.J. Williams and Lift Ev'ry Voice, by James Weldon Johnson.

The carillon contains 53 bells, ranging in size from the 4.5 kg A-bell 16.6 cm in diameter to the 10 tonne bourdon bell tuned to E.

The bourdon strikes the hours.


Cheering crowd

About 2,500 people gathered on Parliament Hill under a damp, chilly overcast and craned to catch a glimpse of President Barack Obama.

While they waited, they cheered every strike of the Peace Tower clock's bells.

When the presidential motorcade swept in from an expected swing behind the East Bloc, many began to chat "Yes, we can," echoing Obama's campaign slogan.

Others chanted "Get out of the way," at a handful of journalists standing just beneath the Peace Tower.

The president and Prime Minister Stephen Harper posed briefly, waving and smiling at the cheering spectators before they headed into the Centre Block for their formal meetings.


White House blogger

Over 650 members of the media have been accredited for the visit of President Barack Obama, including 80 from the United States.

The White House had a new media staffer Jason Djang providing a live blog of the visit.

In one of his first entries he reported that a line of Mounties greeted the president at the airport.

"Sans horses," he noted.

Another entry said: "Canal Rideau is frozen over, and there are people ice skating on it."

Later, after the news conference with Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he wrote: "Each event today boasts an exponential increase in the number of flags."


All-Canadian lunch

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper held their working lunch in the dining room of the Speaker of the Senate.

The rooms are decorated with intricate carvings and weighty Latin inscriptions encouraging caution and prudence. Speaker Noel Kinsella arranged to have a bust of Abraham Lincoln - like Obama an Illinois politician - installed for the occasion.

Kinsella also told Obama that, despite the shape of the room, he should look on it as "your Oval Office North."

The lunch menu:

Pacific Coast tuna with a chili and citrus vinaigrette

Maple and miso cured Nunavut Arctic char

Lightly pickled vegetables and an organic beet relish

Applewood smoked plains bison

Winter root vegetables and local mushrooms

Cauliflower and rosemary puree

Juniper and Niagara red wine jus

Saugeen yogurt pot de creme with a lemon and lavender syrup

Wild blueberry and partridgeberry compote

Acadian buckwheat honey and sumac tuile


Harvard connection

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff makes light of the fact that he and President Barack Obama are both Harvard graduates.

"Well, they always joke that you can tell a Harvard man but you can't tell him anything much," Ignatieff told a TV interviewer when asked about the connection.

"So we're an arrogant bunch of people when we're together."

Just kidding.

" No, no, come on. We've got substantive things to talk about and I hope we'll get to those pretty quickly."

The two had a brief meeting at Ottawa airport just before Obama's return flight to Washington.


Colder weather

President Barack Obama boarded his helicopter in Washington to start his Ottawa trip in a light rain and a temperature that was climbing to 7 C.

He got off Air Force One in Ottawa amid light snow and a temperature hovering just around the freezing point.

He referred to the weather at the very close of his news conference.

"I'm looking forward to coming back to Canada, as soon as it warms up."

In the meantime, in his home town of Chicago it was -4 C and cloudy.


Where am I?

After years of criss-crossing the United States through the primaries and the presidential election campaign, Barack Obama may not be used to being outside the country.

On his first foreign trip as president, he came within a syllable of calling Ottawa Iowa.

As he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper emerged for a news conference after their closed-door meetings, Obama began: "It is a great pleasure to be here in Io . . . in Ottawa."

He kept on without breaking stride.