||March 11, 2011
Ottawa Winterlude Winter Break 2011
I needed a February midwinter break and
headed to Ottawa with my wife for Winterlude and among other
things looked for some heritage insight. The Winterlube
Festival, in its 33rd year drew 60,000 people. I love Ottawa with all of its
museums and galleries and visit regularly especially now that my daughter lives
there. I was especially impressed with a couple of events I
will report on here.
The Canadian Museum of Nature
In May after an 8 years and a 216
million dollar facelift the Canadian Museum of Nature showplace was reborn. The
100 year old building has a remarkable history going through many
reincarnations. It is Canada’s oldest museum. It is close enough to the
parliament buildings to have originally accommodated the Senate and the Commons
used the third floor. When the centre block on Parliament
Hill burned in 1916 the House of Commons met there for 4 years.
||New glass tower on the
Canadian Museum of Nature. D. Mackey photo
When I lived in Ottawa in the 1950s my
wife & I & the kids made regular trips there when it was the National Art
Gallery. I remember the A.Y. Jackson’s Maple Leaves and
other paintings painting to this day.
It later became simply the National
Museum until it was split into the Museum of Nature (Eventually the Canadian
Museum of Nature) and the National Museum of Man (eventually the New Canadian
Museum of Civilization in Quebec)
Part of the recent restoration was the
replacement of a tower that began to sink in inappropriate soil in 1915.
The new tower is glass and is called the “Queen’s Lantern” honoring Queen
Elizabeth II who visited in 1910.
The glass tower has profiles of previous
uses of the building including the Geological Survey of Canada where original
survey results from across Canada were stored. There was a
photo and profile of the famous William E. Logan (1798-1875) who surveyed the
Upper Ottawa & Mattawa Rivers in 1845. I have a recent book
on his travels & it was interesting to stand where he undoubtedly stood.
The sparkling new building has 4 floors
divided into a complex of nature categories – birds, mammals, water, earth, etc
– all state of art showplaces. There is an excellent Nature
Boutique and a Nature Cafe. We spent several hours there
with a break for lunch and will go back. A great place for
kids and there were many there when we were there. Check
Wikipedia for further information.
The Skateway on the Rideau Canal. D. Mackey
Ottawa Outdoor Events
There were more outdoor events than one
could handle with buses to move you around if you chose. We
went to the Rideau Canal and the activities there and nearby.
We entered at Lansdowne Park and walked beside the skating strip where
there were numerous venues on the ice. The Beaver Tails
outlet was one of our stops. There were thousands of skaters
and walkers young and old. Many babies were pushed in their
strollers while mom & dad skated down parts of the 7.8 kilometre skateway.
We wondered how the ice was maintained
and as occasionally happens the answer dropped in my lap or into my mailbox.
My Maclean’s magazine (Feb 28) had the story of the evolution of canal
ice making. The man who had the contract was going crazy
keeping up with his regular Zamboni so he designed & built two long arms which
allowed for easier nightly watering of the 20 meter wide skateway.
||One of the busy on ice venues on the
canal. D. Mackey
He starts down the canal at 10pm &
skaters are back on the fresh ice as soon as the water freezes. We also spent
some time in The Glebe ,a section of Bank Street, where Charlotte Whitton, who I
wrote about recently lived, while Mayor of Ottawa for years
Great exercise, food and people watching
– highly recommended as one of the many other outdoor activities too numerous to
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