Thousands cheer during Ottawa leg of Queen's tour

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Thousands turned out Wednesday to greet the Queen as she returned to the national capital for the first time in 13 years.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were met with cheering crowds at every stop as they hustled through a jam-packed schedule on a blustery, chilly, occasionally rainy day.

Queen Elizabeth receives flowers from well wishers as she arrives for Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Thursday. Photo by The Canadian Press

Ottawa -

Thousands turned out Wednesday to greet the Queen as she returned to the national capital for the first time in 13 years.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were met with cheering crowds at every stop as they hustled through a jam-packed schedule on a blustery, chilly, occasionally rainy day.

Whether she was planting a tree, visiting a museum or paying tribute to late jazz great Oscar Peterson, the Queen made time at each stop to greet well-wishers and accept dozens of bouquets from eager children.

It was the second leg of the Queen's 22nd Canadian visit.

The royal couple's first stop was the newly restored Canadian Museum of Nature, where the monarch unveiled a plaque dedicating a tower known as The Queens' Lantern.

The lantern is a just-opened glass addition replacing the original centrepiece tower of the Victoria Memorial Museum Building, built in 1910. It is dedicated to the 84-year-old monarch and her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, after whom the building is named.

Upon entering the museum, the royal couple walked across a tile mosaic of a bull moose that has only recently been reintroduced to the public. The mosaic was covered in the 1950s after complaints from a Roman Catholic nun that the anatomically correct moose was inappropriate for visiting schoolchildren.

A female museum guard gushed "she's beautiful" before snapping a picture of the Queen.

The Queen and Prince Philip viewed a stuffed snowy owl and wolverine, a huge amethyst crystal from Thunder Bay, Ont., and preserved plants collected by Sir Robert Parry in the Arctic in 1822.

Her Majesty looked sternly at the wolverine, which was posed standing upright on hind legs with teeth bared, but the 89-year-old Duke laughed and appeared quite taken with the animal.

Outside, pipers played and dancers danced. The crowd was upbeat. A protester in a black bear suit carried a sign declaring God Save the Bears.

Dressed in a turquoise ensemble with matching wide-brimmed hat, the Queen later unveiled a life-sized, privately funded bronze statue of jazz virtuoso Peterson at the National Arts Centre.

The sculpture by Ruth Abernethy of Wellesley, Ont., depicts a smiling Peterson seated casually at a grand piano. The Montreal-born musician serenaded audiences worldwide before he died in 2007, including the Royal Couple during 2002's Golden Jubilee celebrations in Toronto.

"Oscar Peterson is a Canadian cultural treasure," said Heritage Minister James Moore. He dubbed the legendary pianist 'Canada's musical ambassador'."

The Queen met Peterson's widow, Kelly Peterson, and daughter Celine before listening to the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir sing Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom." Moore called Peterson's signature piece "a beautifully expressed wish for unity, for peace, and for dignity for all mankind - values that Canadians all hold dear."

At the Governor General's residence later, the Queen used a silver spade to heft three small shovels full of dirt in quick succession under a red oak.

There are more than 120 trees planted by the Royal Family, heads of state and other dignitaries at Rideau Hall. It was the fifth by the Queen.

Later the Duke of Edinburgh met members of the 144-year-old Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, of which he is colonel-in-chief.

The Queen gave a private 30-minute audience to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

She later unveiled the design of a stained glass window which is to be placed in the Senate to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee (60 years on the throne) in 2012. She also unveiled the design for a bust of herself to be displayed in the Senate foyer.

Harper, who accompanied the Queen for the unveilings, quipped, "We're going to have to come up with something for the Commons side" of the Parliament Buildings.

The royal couple ended the day by hosting a garden party at Rideau Hall for 500 invited guests, who noshed on braised buffalo shoulder, lobster croquette fish and chips and roasted asparagus and double smoked bacon perogies, among other fancy fare.

Guests included NDP leader Jack Layton, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott and comedian Russell Peters.

The couple are to attend Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill at noon on Thursday. Performers include the Bare Naked Ladies; Quebec pop star Isabelle Boulay; bagpipers The Campbell Brothers, and Newfoundland Indie rock band Hey Rosetta!. The Queen is to give an address and conduct a walkabout.

She will also give a private audience to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff this morning at Rideau Hall. Her trip ends July 6 after stops in Winnipeg, Waterloo and Toronto.

Organizations: Queen's, Canadian Museum of Nature, Peterson's Victoria Memorial Museum Building National Arts Centre Royal Couple Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir RCMP Campbell Brothers

Geographic location: Ottawa, Toronto, Thunder Bay Arctic Wellesley Montreal Canada Quebec Winnipeg Waterloo

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