As eyes around the world were glued to the unfolding of Wednesday's protests at the United States Capitol building, residents in Sault Ste. Marie say they're still in shock.

Following outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump's relentless attacks on the integrity of the U.S. election, which eventually culminated in him urging his supports to protest Congress's formalization of Joe Biden's electoral victory, thousands stormed and broke inside the Capitol, in what some are describing as a coup.

"You feel like the world is end times or something," said Marty Molari, Sault resident. "It's so disturbing to witness that."

Asked whether he ever expected to see something unfold like Wednesday's events, Molari said it was beyond his comprehension.

"You just don't think people are capable of that, certainly not in today's society," he said.

Another resident described the events as both shocking and heart-breaking, but said Congress' decision to return and finish the ratification of the election provided some glimmer of hope.

Glad Congress returned

"What I saw later, I thought they had done a good job," said Heli Molari. "I was glad to see they held on to their unity and pushed through."

It took until Thursday morning for Trump to finally promise a smooth transition of power to Biden, marking the first time he's done so since losing the election.

However, in a statement, the president still disagreed with outcome of the election, holding onto his false rhetoric and describing his tenure as the "greatest first term in presidential history."

"This gives us all that moment to pause and to take a look at, you know, how are we, as leaders, how can we lead by example," said Sault Ste. Marie city councillor Lisa Vezeau-Allen. "How do we as Canadians go about creating a better environment for our neighbours and friends in the U.S.?"

Nipissing University political scientist David Tabachnick said Wednesday's events weren't shocking at all to him.

"I think what was a bit surprising was that the Capitol police were so unable, or unwilling to stop this crowd," Tabachnick said.

Four people died during the protests, one by gunshot at the hands of Capitol police and the others from other causes brought on by the disturbance.

BLM protest would have been different

Tabachnick wonders if more force would have been involved if the protests had been for Black Lives Matter or some other racial minority group.

"It's hard for me to get to the intention of individual police officers," he said. "But the juxtaposition of those actions is notable, and I think we're going to have to wait and see if there is any truth to those accusations of racism."

Tabachnick said he doesn't expect to see any long-term financial implications on Canada stemming from Wednesday's events.

However, despite the president's assurances of transitioning power smoothly, he said Trump's unwillingness to refute his claims of voter fraud could bear dark implications long after his term ends.

"Unfortunately, I'm guessing we're going to see more violence, maybe not something as dramatic as we saw Wednesday," Tabachnick said. "Honestly, I hope it's smaller protests rather than bigger ones, but this is Donald Trump's base, a group of angry people that are very distrustful of the government, so this result, again, does not surprise me."