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.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.