OTTAWA - They were surrounded by artifacts of military might, but the only shooting going on Saturday was the din of snapping shutters as Prince William and Kate capped their visit to the nation's capital with a stirring tribute to Canada's war veterans.
Outside the bunker-like Canadian War Museum, several hundred people — a healthy turnout, but far from the hundreds of thousands on hand for Canada Day — cheered the royal couple's arrival as they were met by Heritage Minister James Moore and Tory MP Eve Adams.
Inside, after a lengthy meet-and-greet session with war veterans and war brides spanning several generations, the newlyweds shared unveiling duties by pulling back a curtain to reveal a towering, unfinished military mural by British artist Augustus John.
"We have veterans here from the Second World War, we have veterans here from the Korean War, and we have those who have been involved in the mission in Afghanistan," Moore told the audience.
"We are incredibly proud of you, the men and women of the Canadian Forces, who have courageously put your lives in danger to defend Canada, to defend Canada's values, and indeed to keep us safe."
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Before the proceedings began, the duke and duchess toured the museum's art collection, beginning with a 1917 quartet of paintings called "The Roads of France," by C.W.R. Nevinson. They lingered over a gallery of nose art — drawings and cartoons that adorned military aircraft — and a row of paintings from the Beaverbrook War art collection.
But it was when meeting and mingling with veterans, war brides and their families that William and Kate lingered, shaking hands and making earnest conversation, throwing the military precision of their daily itinerary into disarray for the third straight day.
The duke and duchess began their last day in Ottawa by adding a royal flourish to a Canadian hemlock tree at Rideau Hall, a lasting imprint of their first official tour as newlyweds.
William wore a dark blue suit and Kate a conservative grey Kensington dress by designer Catherine Walker as the pair tossed shovelfuls of soil underneath the tree, chosen to symbolize their enduring love and marriage.
It's the 17th royal tree to be planted on the Rideau Hall grounds.
The guests who were on hand for the ceremony included couples who celebrated multiple decades of marriage — 30, 40, 50, even 70 years — on April 29, the same day as William and Kate.
Also among the guests was Terry Joyce, a terminally ill man whose dying wish to meet the duke and duchess was granted moments after the ceremony, when the royal couple spent several minutes talking with him in the shade of the garden.
Despite the smaller scale of the event, more than 50 people still gathered outside the main gate of Rideau Hall in the bright sunshine more than an hour before the ceremony.
The royal couple was due to arrive in Montreal later in the day for a visit to the Sainte-Justine University (Children's) Hospital Centre to view displays and meet with children and parents. At the airport in Ottawa, crowds of well-wishers hoping for one last glimpse began to line the streets in the early afternoon as the scheduled hour of departure grew nearer.
They'll later get to hone their culinary skills at the Quebec Tourism and Hotel Institute, where they will attend a cooking workshop and reception.
The couple will be sampling from dishes highlighting the province's cultures and local wines. Among the items on the menu for the four-course meal include Quebec foie gras on a toasted brioche served with apple cider jelly, loin of Charlevoix lamb, and Iles de la Madeleine lobster.
Polishing off the meal for dessert will be a white cloud —likened to a fresh cheesecake with maple caramel, feathery meringue and biscuit.
The royals are slated to dine with Quebec Premier Jean Charest and his wife Michele.
The couple's visit is expected to be met by protests outside by Quebec sovereigntists. At least a pair of demonstrations are expected during the William and Kate's two-day swing through the province, where there is a strong anti-monarchist sentiment.
Kate and William will wrap up Saturday by boarding the HMCS Montreal, where they'll set sail for Quebec City.
On Friday, they were the highlight of the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill. Throngs of cheering supporters erupted with delight when the landau bearing the royal couple rolled into view.
The din and smoke from a 21-gun salute filled the streets before the prince and his wife stood alongside the Centennial Flame, the band playing the national anthem and "God Save the Queen."
In a brief speech in both English and French, William told hundreds of thousands of well-wishers that Canada should be "immensely proud" of its successes and sacrifices on the battlefields of Afghanistan.
He also brought greetings from his grandmother, "the Queen of Canada," who he said has warm, abiding memories of her own visit last year, and described his wife Kate's own interest in the country, her pilot grandfather having trained in Alberta.
Kate didn't take to microphone to address the massive crowd — estimated to number more than 300,000 — but made a statement with her stylish Canada Day ensemble.
The duchess came decked out in Canadian colours, wearing a cream dress by Reiss, the Queen's Maple Leaf brooch and a brilliant red fascinator adorned with maple leaves by Sylvia Fletcher at Lock and Co.
Charlottetown, Yellowknife and Calgary are the other upcoming stops on the royal tour. The couple will leave will leave for California on July 8.