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)

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.


For the last few years, I have been watching the annual nesting activities of a pair (at least I THINK it is the same pair) of Ospreys. The nest is at Nicholson’s Locks, along the historic Rideau Canal system.

The Rideau Canal waterway

The Rideau Canal waterway

There are also a couple of other nests (one outside Merrickville, and one along Donnelly Drive, east of Burritt’s Rapids) the  but this has, so far, been the one that is the easiest to watch.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I located a new nest that I must have passed a number of times and not seen. It is along County Road 19 (River Road), on the east side of the Rideau River, and is about 2/3 of the way between Kemptville and Manotick (closer to Manotick).

The nest is close enough to get a really good look at the male sitting out on a nearby branch and to see the head of the female popping her head up over the edge of the nest. There is also no powerline in the middle of your photos and the view across the river is trees rather than buildings or hydro pylons and things.

The first time we noticed the nest, the pair were actively mating. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me so wasn’t able to get photos. Now, they are actively nest-sitting.

I went down last Sunday and tooks some great photos of the nest against the sunset. Unfortunately, my littl digital camera doesn’t have a telephoto lens so I can’t take any real close-ups. I took a couple of sharp but very shaky videos using my binoculars as a make-shift telephoto but it didn’t work at all well for the still shots.

This weekend we found 4 active nests, including this one.

So here are the shots from last weekend.

The nest at sunset with the male in the tree to the right.

The nest at sunset with the male in the tree to the right.

The male in the tree. The "moon" is just from using the binoculars.

The male in the tree. The "moon" is just from using the binoculars as a telephoto.

The male taking over nesting duties.

The male taking over nesting duties.



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