Photo Hunt: Machine(s)

Bear with me..

Yesterday, I was harping on about this monstrosity which is in the final stages of completion. It is a refurbishment of the Congress Centre/Westin Hotel complex in the downtown core. What isn’t conveyed in the second photo is the size of the building compared to the surrounding landscape. In fact, it looms over the road beneath it and the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. How and why city council permitted this hideously grotesque building to be built at all is beyond me. I don’t “get” fad for “squashed can” architecture. I can SORT of see when you have the ability to see them at a reasonable distance, but not looming over you, dwarfing the viewer. Personally, I think this style of architecture looks like an explosion in a model airplane factory.

I feel claustrophobic in the vicinity of this thing. AND… prior to refurbishing the building the existing Congress Centre was underused, partly because parking is a real problem in the area. It stands beside a main commuter route which was often at a standstill at rush hour because tour buses loading and unloading had no adequate stopping area so they blocked the right-hand lane. From what I have been able to determine, this HUGE problem has not been addressed at all.

Historically, the area which is Colonel By Drive, south of Rideau and Wellington was the terminus of the Grand Trunk Railway line, at Ottawa’s Union Station (The station still stands, off limits to the general public and used only for government conferences…. once every few years) When they built the new Ottawa railway station further from the city centre, the disused tracks were removed, and the entire area backing onto Rideau Street was stripped of the Railway-related buildings, as well as the old main Post Office building. The old railway beds along the Rideau Canal were replaced with a driveway and parkland matching those along the Queen Elizabeth Driveway on the other side of the Canal. In the 1970s, the land was slated for development and the Rideau Centre was built. As was predicted by those who opposed the redesign of the area, traffic became a nightmare, with the routing of 18-wheelers through the downtown core all day long in a convoluted route. Every new development to the area, from the US Embassy on Sussex Drive to the demolishing of the Daly Building (a building of architectural importance — replaced by condominiums) to the Congress Centre refurbishment has made travelling through the downtown core difficult and unappealing.

So, basically, the city has a billion-dollar monstrosity which will probably be a barely-used white elephant which will continue to cause traffic problems and make the downtown core even less attractive and less human-friendly.

So… here is the “Machine” part of my posting.


The shell

The site back in the 1920s (red rectangle)

Photo Hunt: Free Week

For want of anything else, I am posting the first photos I took… Well… The first ones taken outside of the house… using my new camera.

I am still trying to figure out the settings. The images aren’t as sharp and the resolution not as good as I would like, yet.

On the way home from work I stopped in at the Experimental Farm. I was losing light, It was snowing, traffic on Prince of Wales was terrible, and Mom was alone so I didn’t have time to stop for long. However, since the road across the Farm is closed in winter, now, there are very few cars along the road. It is a lovely view in almost any season and weather.

Unfortunately, traffic along Prince of Wales and Baseline Road is usually pretty heavy so the lights from the cars is often intrusive.

Hopefully, the weather will be nice tomorrow and we can get out into the country for a bit tomorrow.

After fiddling with some of the settings and testing the results, the resolution is a lot better. Of course, I will have to try it out of doors, next.

It pays to ask…

This evening, while I was driving my mother and her friend to the theatre, the friend (who lives in our co-op) told me that there were certain people upset over the decorations that had been put up on the co-op office for the “Christmas” season. She stated that the Muslim people in our community, which is about half the population of the co-op, were upset that both Hallowe’en and Christmas decorations had gone up.

As I am on the Board and we have a General Members Meeting coming up, she “wanted to give me a heads-up that there were people who would be bringing the matter up at the meeting”. She said that they were upset about Co-op funding going into Christian decorations on property that was for “everyone’s use”. She said that they had been particularly upset about Hallowe’en but were now “really upset” about the Christmas decorations.

I said to her that if anyone was upset, they had every right to approach the Board and let us know of their feelings. I said that the Board didn’t authorize the decorations and that no co-op money went into buying these decorations. Nor did we know who put up the decorations. She said that SHE didn’t like having the decorations up on property owned by the members. We were getting into a rather heated discussion in the car and she kept saying that “they are upset” and that “they can’t get onto the Board to change things” and that “they feel helpless”…

I fumed all the way home. Not because of the fact that someone might be upset about the decorations but that, again, no one was coming to us to express their own feelings but that I was, as usual, being approached by a third party over issues that I can’t do anything about unless someone approaches me directly.

Finally, I decided that in order to take the bull by the horns, I needed to speak directly to one of members of the supposedly offended group and find out 1) if there was any discussion about the decorations 2) if so how upset were people and 3) if people were upset, how we could rectify the problem.

I am glad I did.

This was the first she had heard about the “problem”. No one was “talking about it”. No one was “upset”. Further more, members of this same community who are on the Recreation Committee were wanting to plan a Christmas party for all the members of the co-op… Now… to make this completely clear… Muslim community members were wanting to plan a Christmas party for ALL members of the co-op…

Someone please tell FOX News that Christmas is alive and well in multicultural Ottawa!

PhotoHunter: “Rock”

My “rock” is part of the Canadian Shield. The Canadian Shield (aka the Precambrian Shield, or Laurentian Shield) is the Precambrian rock that covers about 8 million square kilometers of Eastern and Central Canada. It is comprised of some of the world’s oldest rock, dating back approximately 4.5 billion and 540 million years.

Some of that Pre-Cambrian rock.

Some of that Precambrian rock.

Over successive ice ages, mountains (including some volcanic) as high and awesome as the Rockies have been scoured down to bare rock over which lies boreal forest. You can find evidence of the last ice age all over the place.

The view of the Laurentian mountains from Mont Tremblant, Quebec

The view of the Laurentian mountains from Mont Tremblant, Quebec

In the photo below, you can see the edge of the Shield where it is cut off by the Ottawa River Valley, a great, wide valley which extends from the St. Lawrence River in the east and swings west and then northward towards Hudson Bay. It is a rift valley, formed when the bedrock dropped down tens of kilometres deep. Several major fault-lines run through the area and we experience frequent earth tremors, as a result.

View from the Champlain Lookout

View from the Champlain Lookout, in the Gatineau Hills

The edge of the Shield which bounds it on the northern edge rises up about 300 metres.

Parts of the Shield extend down into the US.

The Ottawa Valley and Canadian Shield

The Ottawa Valley and Canadian Shield

The Ottawa River Valley

The Ottawa River Valley

The Ottawa Valley was once part of the great Champlain Sea, a huge brackish inland sea where whales once swam. The Champlain Sea formed when the great ice sheets of the last ice age pressed down on the land and when the melted, the Atlantic Ocean flooded in. When the last of the ice was gone, the continent tipped back and the water flowed out, again.

…and no camera….

I took Mom out for supper last night and stupidly didn’t think to bring my camera.

The huge cloud formations were concentrating the light low on the horizon and the light was amazing. There was a field of cows and it was…. breathtaking! And then, further on, a field of not sure what… hay, I think, light green bounded by deep and pale blue-green trees and banked by huge blue to grey to black to white clouds, raking showers in the distance…. and a rainbow….. Stunning. Even if I had my camera, would I have been able to capture it?

And moments later, a huge bolt of lightning blew straight down from the clouds, straight ahead down the road….

PhotoHunter: “Flags”

With Canada Day approaching (July 1 – unless it falls on a Sunday at which point “Canada Day” is the 2nd…. except that all the celebrations are on the Sunday which is July 1st and “called” Canada Day, which means that you get to celebrate Canada Day on “Canada Day” and get the day of on Monday which is Canada Day….. unless you are someone who works in retail or a service job… Then you get to WORK  and wait on everyone else who is celebrating on “Canada Day”  — don’t ask….)… I thought I would share just a few of the flags you might see.

If you are wondering at the lack of crowds, that is because there are thousands of people up on Parliament Hill watching the Noon celebrations. Once they end, there are thousands of people out on the streets, painted with flags, wearing flags, waving flags…. Unfortunately, my camera battery died just at the crucial time.

I will be taking more photos, this year. You can check back and see them. Meanwhile, these are from the last few years.

The flag atop the Peace Tower, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa.

The flag atop the Peace Tower, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa.


The RCMP escort for the Governor General

The RCMP escort for the Governor General and Prime Minister

The RCMP escort

The RCMP escort

Flags aloft

Flags aloft

Flags held high....

Flags held high....

Flags held low....

Flags held low....

...and Flags held somewhere in between....

...and Flags held somewhere in between.... (those are my grand-nephews and niece)

But the place that leaving a flag means the most….

... on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the National War Memorial...

... on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the National War Memorial...

By the end of the day, there are thousands.

On November 11th, people leave their lapel poppies atop the tomb. By the end of the day, one can hardly see the tomb at all.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was designed to be approached and touched, not kept away from Canadians. Unfortunately, it’s approachability had led to problems. Some people don’t even know what it is and stand or sit on it. Last year, scandal erupted when drunken louts were photographed and filmed urinating on the National War Memorial. Now, guards stand nearby during events such as this.

Funny true story about the Canadian flag. I was out in Oregon visiting my brother and sister. One day, my brother took me to the University of Oregon where he worked. We went through the library because he heard they were setting up a display on Canada he thought I might like to see.

Basically, it was two library display cases with some pamphlets and books on Canada. Throughout the display cases were a number of Canadian flags, each and every one of which was upside down (the leaf top pointing down). When I pointed this out, my brother laughed and I said that if it was an American flag, he’d be pretty upset. He agreed and we went off to find the librarian to point out this “travesty”… When I pointed out the error, he said… Oh! I didn’t know those were FLAGS! I thought they were just decorations….”

I guess a little research for the display might have gone a long way to helping apprise him of the fact that this was our flag.

My mother’s lawyer, John Matheson, later a Member of Parliament under Lester B. Pearson, was one of those responsible for choosing Canada’s new flag, back in 1965.

I remember Mr. Matheson very well, though I only net him when I was 5 when he hamdled my adoption by my strp-Dad. I remember him because he had been wounded during the war and let me feel the soft spot where he had no skull… true story!

PhotoHunter: Lock(s)

Here in Ottawa, one cannot help but be aware that we are living in an historically significant place.

Apart from being the capital of Canada, on a daily basis, we pass by, over, under, and through history. In my case, I cross over one piece of history every day on my way to work.

The Rideau Canal, the northern end, at least, begins in Ottawa, right beside Parliament Hill. It bisects the city, cutting it in half — or thirds, really, assisted by the Rideau River, which is the reason for the Canal’s existence.

The Rideau Canal is a working waterway, a historic feature, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The necessity of a canal was realized back during the War of 1812, when Canadians (and the British) beat back invading American forces. Americans repeatedly argue that “Canadians” didn’t have anything to do with the War of 1812 because we didn’t exist as a nation until 1867. The populace, however, considered themselves as British Subjects but more significantly “Canadians”. Indeed, the vast majority of those who defended Canada were citizen militias and individuals, NOT British troops!. It was a citizen militia, in fact, that invaded the United States and burned the White House.

I digress….

It was realized that, should Americans invade again, Canada would be hard pressed to bring men and materiel through the rough country should Americans block access to the main waterway, the St. Lawrence River.

In 1826, Lieutenant Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers was assigned the daunting and seemingly insurmountable task of designing and engineering a canal system from the Ottawa River to Kingston, then the main city in Upper Canada. He and the builders of the canal fought the elements, Malaria, the terrain, and bureaucracy, finally finishing the canal in November 1931.

Colonel John By supervising construction of the locks at Bytown - C.W. Jeffreys

Colonel John By supervising construction of the locks at Bytown - C.W. Jeffreys

He started near the canal in a natural fault beside what would later become Parliament Hill in a place which would later become Ottawa, later named By Town in his honour, but then an unnamed rough and tumble habitation of lumber shacks and mills. The builders followed a known route known only to local Indians who traveled to and from Lake Ontario and The Ottawa River.

In 1832 the canal opened and consisted of 47 masonry locks and 52 dams creating a 202 km (125 mile) waterway, one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century. It remains the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America.

The same locks as they appeared in 1839  - W.H. Bartlett

The same locks as they appeared in 1839 - W.H. Bartlett

Sadly, By, himself became the scapegoat of disagreements over the final cost, the original estimates, and government in-fighting and was removed from the project… on the day when the Canal opened.

At the very instant that Colonel By was being given an overwhelming welcome in Smiths Falls, thousands of miles away, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, a clerk was penning the instrument of Colonel By’s demise. He was writing down a minute [official memorandum] resulting from a meeting that morning of the Lord Commissioners of the British Treasury. He was just at the point of writing “they [Lords of Treasury] cannot delay expressing their opinion to the Master General and Board of Ordnance on the conduct of Colonel By in carrying out this Work [the Rideau Canal].”

He died without having his name cleared or having the governments on wither side of the Atlantic acknowledge his achievements.

Canada and Canadians, however, now honour him as being the creator of one of Canada’s most significant and historic achievements.

Believed to a silouette of Lt. Col. By

Believed to a silhouette of Lt. Col. By

Nicholson's Locks, on the Rideau Canal

Nicholson's Locks, on the Rideau Canal


Nicholson's Lock, Rideau Canal.

Nicholson's Lock, Rideau Canal.

Long Island Locks and Dam, Rideau Canal, Manotick

Long Island Locks and Dam, Rideau Canal, Manotick

The Lockmater's HOuse, lower lock, Hog's Back, Ottawa

The Lockmaster's House, lower lock, Hog's Back, Ottawa

And a few of the locks at the Galop Canal, which is on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Now made redundant by the Seaway.

Disused Locks, Galop Canal, St. Lawrence River

Disused Locks, Galop Canal, St. Lawrence River

Lock Icicles, Galop Canal

"Lockcicles", Galop Canal (thanks, Az!)

If I can find the one of the lock gate, half submerged downstream, I will add it.

Wall advertisements

A while ago, I started a blog about vanished places in Ottawa (so far only two postings but more are in the works!). After photographing the wall advertisment in Westboro for my PhotoHunter submission last week, I decided to branch out and ad one for wall advertising in the area. Unfortunately, I THINK is may not be worth adding a whole blog as these bits of the past are fast disappearing in Ottawa.

As a matter of fact, I went down to photograph one which was revealed after a fire destroyed a well-known Ottawa landmark, the Tommy and Lefebvre store on Bank Street in the Spring. I saw a photo that someone else had taken, on Flickr. However, they are gone already!

I did manage to get one on Saturday afternoon:

G.A. Snider ~ Photographer, circa 1890

G.A. Snider ~ Photographer, circa 1890

I don’t know much about G.A. Snider. There are a number of fonds at the National Archives of Canada which contain examples of his work. His shop was at 134 Bank Street and then at 123. He lived, I believe, on Rideau Terrace, in New Edinburgh. The rest of the photos can be seen here.

and one this morning.

The former Imperial Theatre amid Bank Street construction

The former Imperial Theatre amid Bank Street construction

The Imperial Theatre, circa 19

The Imperial Theatre, circa 1914

The Imperial Theatre was built in 1914. It closed in 1955 and was eventually reopened as Barrymore’s, a music venue.

Original Imperial Theatre facade with painted wall sign.

Original Imperial Theatre facade with painted wall sign. (circa 1937)

In case you are interested, the theatre was showing “Forty Naughty Girls” with Zazu Pitts (1937) and “Men Are not Gods” with Miriam Hopkins, Gertrude Lawrence, and Rex Harrison (1936).

Interestingly, The Imperial and other Ottawa theatres appear to have ignored the “Lord’s Day Act” as late as 1950 and incurred the wrath of the chairman of the Motion Picture Censorship and Theatres Inspection Branch. He wrote the Ottawa theatre owners:

“the theatres in your city have been used [on Sundays] more than any others in Ontario and in most cases you have ignored our arrangement with the Lord’s Day Alliance of Canada. You are all familiar with the requirements. They are quite simple. You write me for certain forms which are to be completed twenty-one days prior to any performance, and they must be completed in full…From this date should any of your theatres be opened on Sunday for any event, without the necessary forms being completed, I shall ask the Provincial Secretary to deal with the matter”

This one was a smash and grab as I was illegally parked in a dodgy neighbourhood, left the car running while I dashed to the corner, and the parking authority guy was writing a ticket on someone a few feet away. But I managed to get the photos I wanted and not get a ticket or the car stolen!

PhotoHunter: Advertisement

This week’s PhotoHunter theme is “Advertisement”. Coincidentally, I was driving along Richmond Road, in Ottawa’s Westboro neighbourhood when I saw that a building had been torn down, revealing a 1920s-era painted wall advertisement. Previously, if was only visible from an alley between the two buildings. Which is why I never saw it before.

Unfortunately, the building upon which it is painted is slated for demolition. The whole Westboro neighbourhood which has long been a quiet one with trendy shops is now busy, with more and more high-end trendy shops going in. Like many such neighbourhoods, it is falling victim to its own charm and many of the charming old buildings are being torn down and replaced by swank condominiums and expensive shops.

The sign has advertisements for Imperial Premier Gasoline and Stevenson Hardware. Stevenson Hardware had advertisements in the 1927 “History of Westboro”.

Westboro Painted advertisement ca. 1927

Westboro painted advertisement ca. 1927

photohunter7iq1…and probably the most Canadian of advertisements… appropriately photographed on Canada Day. This sign is on the outside wall of a former Hudson’s Bay Post along the Upper Ottawa River, at Fort William, Quebec. Again, you can’t get more Canadian than that, can you?

Drink "Canada Dry"

Drink "Canada Dry"

And now that I think about it, a little personal advertisement for my favorite beer. I don’t normally like beer but I DO like Beau’s “Lug*Tread”, a new local brewery. What you can’t see here is the etched tractor in the bottom of the glass. A really nice beer with a really nice glass.

Beau's "Lug*Tred" Lagered Ale

Beau's "Lug*Tred" Lagered Ale

2009 Odawa Powwow, Ottawa

Here are a few photos (and these are some from the Powwow at the Wakefield Harvest Festival in 2007).

First things first… FOOD!

Indian Taco and Raspberry Juice

Indian Taco and Raspberry Juice

Ladies Jungle Dance competator on the sidelines

Ladies Jungle Dance competitor on the sidelines

Boy's Traditional competetor in action

Boy's Traditional competitor in action

Girl's Traditional Competition (Such concentration!)

Girl's Jingle Dance Competition (Such concentration!)

Fun on the sidelines!

Fun on the sidelines!

...and some just sleep through it all!

...and some just sleep through it all!

Some video footage of the dance competitions at the Odawa Powwow.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “2009 Odawa Powwow, Ottawa“, posted with vodpod

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