Museum-a-palooza

Wall of lights

Thurs­day we got mov­ing by 11 AM or so. We went to the Cana­di­an Muse­um of Nature first off, and pur­chased a muse­um pass­port (3 muse­ums, 3 days, 1 price!) which would also allow us access to the War Muse­um, the Muse­um of His­to­ry, and the Nation­al Gallery. (Also the Avi­a­tion Muse­um, but that train had sailed.)

We wan­dered through the muse­um, find­ing our­selves less than thrilled with the con­tent, which most­ly seemed aimed at school groups and fam­i­lies with chil­dren. I did get some good T-Rex pho­tos for Marc and Caryl’s gar­den — you’re wel­come, Caryl! The build­ing itself was fas­ci­nat­ing, though: the first nation­al muse­um in Cana­da, it start­ed off as home to the Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey. It’s a neo-Goth­ic / Beaux-Arts cas­tle, with a rebuilt front tow­er named the Queen’s Lantern due to all the light it lets in via four walls of win­dows. From the ceil­ing hangs a huge, white, inflat­ed jel­ly­fish, an art instal­la­tion called Le Méduse.

Lunch: We found our way to Stel­la Luna, which one of our friends had rec­om­mend­ed as hav­ing world-class gela­to. The gela­to was very good — though I’m not con­vinced it was any bet­ter than the gela­to at Choco­late Fox in Wasagam­ing — and so was the ham pani­ni we had with it. I had good cof­fee and Kath­leen had kom­bucha, which I can’t bring myself to drink.

After that, we went to the Cana­di­an War Muse­um, which was def­i­nite­ly not aimed at young kids. There’s a spe­cial exhib­it, for the 100th anniver­sary of Vimy, that was pro­found­ly affect­ing. A wall of lights, 3,598 of them, one for each Cana­di­an sol­dier that died at Vimy; they light up as you approach. They brought both of us to tears. Medals, pho­tos and mod­els of the memo­r­i­al, doc­u­ments from sol­diers or from the gov­ern­ment to the bereaved fam­i­lies — it’s a very heavy room.

The rest of the gal­leries were inter­est­ing, detail­ing the con­flicts (both inter­nal and exter­nal) that Cana­da the land­mass and Cana­da the coun­try has found itself embroiled in, from the pre-con­tact days of Indige­nous war­fare to the present peace­keep­ing mis­sions.

The Regen­er­a­tion Hall offered a brief glimpse of Parliament’s Peace Tow­er; then you descend the stairs and lose sight of peace, but are con­front­ed, in the end, with Hope, a repli­ca of the stat­ue from the Vimy Memo­r­i­al.

At the end, we entered the small memo­r­i­al chapel, and saw for our­selves the head­stone and the win­dow that play a role in every Remem­brance Day tele­cast from Ottawa. We stood in silence a few min­utes, con­tem­plat­ing, then left in silence.

A Canadian Soldier
The head­stone of a Cana­di­an solid­er in the War Museum’s memo­r­i­al chapel.
And then, since we were in the neigh­bour­hood, we hit the Cana­di­an Muse­um of His­to­ry, too. High­light­ing Canada’s his­to­ry from the Clo­vis era (13,500 years ago) to the present, I found a fair bit of over­lap with the War Muse­um, though there was a great deal of oth­er sto­ries told than sim­ply con­flict. You could tell it was on the French side, too; the focus was pret­ty heav­i­ly New France, espe­cial­ly in the ear­ly days.

Back to the hotel, where we dropped off the car and walked half a block to a Nando’s restau­rant, where we had deli­cious chick­en and amaz­ing desserts. After that, we went to sleep.

Step count: 8607.

Series: Ottawa Trip 2017

The entire series: Ottawa: Sun­day; Ottawa: By Water; Ottawa: Par­lia­ment Hill; Cana­di­an Avi­a­tion Muse­um / Rideau Hall; Muse­um-a-palooza; Nation­al Gallery; The Week­end.