Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another Year Ends

2013 comes to an end today. Tomorrow is another theme day for City Daily Photo, with Photo Of The Year as the theme. I thought I'd end the year with a visit to Nepean Point again. I went a few days before Christmas to pay my respects to the statue of Samuel De Champlain, fitting, since 2013 marked the four hundredth anniversary of his first trip up the Ottawa River. It was a snowy day, almost giving a monochromatic feel to the pics I took at the Point.

A closer view of the man himself, free of the scaffolding that was here during Nuit Blanche back in September. It is a commanding position high over the Ottawa River.

This looks back to where I've come on a path that comes alongside the National Gallery. Major's Hill Park is across the boulevard, and the top of the Chateau Laurier can be made out above the trees. On the right you can make out the East Block on Parliament Hill.

The Ottawa River is below the point, and the ice was well on its way to forming here. In fact, only in the background can you see open water.

It's fitting for my last picture of 2013 to be that of Parliament Hill. The view from the Point on a sunny day is quite dramatic, and yet I liked the effect of a snowy, misty day for a completely different mood. 

A Happy New Year to you all!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Shadow And Light

One evening I was walking through Confederation Park. A photo op caught my eye. I liked how the Aboriginal Veterans Monument looked at that time of day up against the hotel beyond it, so I took the shots.

The Lord Elgin Hotel is one of the premier establishments in the city, outdone only by the Chateau Laurier. The two hotels are within sight of each other. I like the way it's lit up at night.

The theme for City Daily Photo's January 1st theme day is Photo Of The Year. I will have mine scheduled for midnight eastern time, and will have a link set for you to see other such examples from bloggers from around the world.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Glass Wall

I've shown you this place from inside, so why not the exterior? The Ottawa Convention Centre looms over Colonel By Drive and the Rideau Canal, a graceful curve of glass. I took this shot from the nearby Mackenzie King bridge, and in the background you can see the Government Conference Centre and the Chateau Laurier.

A full view can be had across the Canal, from the terrace at the National Arts Centre. These shots were taken after the water levels on the Canal were lowered for the winter season.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

500 Millilitres

Canadian Blood Services is the public agency that handles the donation and distribution of blood through most of the country (Quebec has its own provincial agency). The Ottawa office has a permanent clinic, but also roving clinics across the city and over a wide stretch of the Ottawa Valley and Eastern Ontario. They also have the bloodmobile, a customized truck trailer fitted out for donations.

During the holiday season, there's a pressing need for blood donors, since many regular donors are consumed with Christmas plans. I make a point of donating at some point after the middle of December each year. 

I'm a regular donor, and have never had a problem with it. So this year I went again, before Christmas. Oh, sure, the needle is THIS BIG and the pain will make you howl and wish that you were unconcious... oh, I kid, I kid. Really, there's nothing to it. An hour out of your day every two or three months, and they take about five hundred millilitres out of you.

Though there are the odd people who do faint. I've seen it happen.

Anyway, my very first selfie. No, not the Anthony Weiner kind of selfie.

One of the attending nurses snapped this shot of yours truly, with Christmas tinsel in the background. I swear, every time I try to smile, it comes out as a smirk. I don't mean to!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fine Taste And History

From the second floor looking down, the main entrance into the Chateau Laurier can be seen here.

The lobby from the ground level. The entire place, now over a century old, bears the signature of the man who had it in mind, a luxurious and commanding place. Too bad he didn't get to live to see it opened. The poor chap died on the Titanic, and many of the furnishings he meant for the hotel went down with the ship. His ghost is said to haunt the hotel.

Coming back into the lounge on the east side, we see the Christmas trees and the dark paneling. It's an appealing space to me, personally, occupying the area between the lobby and another of the hotel's restaurants.

You notice the pictures on the walls in this lounge, well illuminated? All portraits from one of the finest photographers of the twentieth century, who lived here in Ottawa and had his studios inside the Chateau for many, many years.

Yousuf Karsh was one of the most celebrated portrait photographers of the century, photographing both the well known and the ordinary citizenry in his signature style. He came from a family of immigrants from Armenia that settled here; his brother Malak Karsh was just as accomplished a photographer, but chose landscapes of Canada as his subject. The two brothers had their work together in the oddest of places: Canadians who still remember the dollar bill might be surprised to know the picture of the Queen is taken from one of Yousuf's portraits of her, while the river view of Parliament Hill on the other side of the bill was based on a photograph by Malak.

This is one of the portraits in the lounge, the Karsh portrait of Einstein.

While this of course is Winston Churchill. The story goes that when Karsh took the photo during the Second World War, he removed Churchill's cigar from his hand... hence the annoyed look. It's arguably the definitive photo by Karsh and of Churchill.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Luxuries, Light, And Art

My last post ended with this corridor. Here's the view from the other end, with Christmas trees to be found along its length.

Looking up, we have a detail above the doors and passages that line its length.

While this is one of the sitting areas off the corridor. This large lounge features several large paintings and draws in the visitor.

This large corridor runs off the first corridor, running along the width of the hotel. 

I also wandered up to the second floor, where this desk in the corridor set before the window caught my eye.

A look at the second floor, above the lobby. The staircase you see at the left is the same staircase as in yesterday's post.

Concluding our look inside the Chateau tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas In The Chateau

For Christmas Day, I thought I would post shots from within the Chateau Laurier. I went there earlier in the month and took a series of shots inside.

This is one of the main staircases off the lobby. The Christmas trees you see beside it are just a few of many that are in the hotel right now.

Here we have others. Local groups and businesses decorated the trees and benefits went to charity, as it turns out.

Yet more trees. I was surprised by how many there were inside. The screen beyond these trees is translucent; the space beyond is one of the hotel's restaurants.

This tree is in one of the lounges, just off the main lobby. 

While this is one of the halls going deeper into the hotel. Christmas trees are at the far end.

More from the Chateau's interior in the next two posts.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twas The Night Before Christmas

It's Christmas Eve today, so expect a lot of photobloggers to be carrying on with Christmas themes (many have been doing so for awhile). I also have a writer's blog, which tends to be demented, twisted, and skewed (in a good way). Sometime today I'll have posted my Christmas Eve blog there; go and check it out.

A little over a week ago, on a snowy Sunday morning, I took the tour of Centre Block on Parliament Hill. Most of the shots I took on the tour will posted in January, but I thought I would share some now, particularly since the space inside is decorated for Christmas.

Christmas decor is worked around the arches we find here in Confederation Hall, the grand entrance space through the main doors.

There is a Christmas tree here in the Hall as well.

The central column in Confederation Hall gets wrapped with ribbons, artificial branches, and lights in an unusual form of Christmas tree.

Here you see the column from above.

Though it's not Christmas related, I thought I'd post this here. There was a book of condolences set up in the Hall after the recent death of Nelson Mandela. 

Confederation Hall remains one of my favourite parts of Centre Block, the arches and attention to detail in the carvings making it such a dramatic use of space.

We leave off today with two Christmas trees. The Senate foyer is on the east side of the building, outside the Senate itself. A tree has been erected here.

On the west side of the building, in the foyer outside the House of Commons stands this Christmas tree.

Tomorrow for Christmas Day I'll be taking you into another Ottawa landmark for more Christmas decorations, assuming scheduling these posts in advance works as it should. I will be back online on the 27th, I expect, so I'll have a good deal of catching up to do.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Snowflakes On The Centre Block

On Parliament Hill, the Centre Block is fully lit up early in December for a month with Christmas lights.

It is a combination of bulbs strung up in the bushes that line the front lawn, the changing of floodlight lenses to combinations of red and green, and projectors that cast snowflakes onto the stone of the building.

It makes for a very colourful effect as you walk up towards the Peace Tower.

The lines of bulbs are strewn throughout the bushes, which as you can see have a healthy cover of snow as well.

It is a completely different experience to come up here at night from other times of the year, and the snowflake projections add a magical effect to the building.

More from Parliament Hill tomorrow in my Christmas Eve blog, as I take you inside....

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Let There Be Christmas Lights

As is the case with many homes and private businesses here, the city and federal governments put Christmas lights up this time of year.

At City Hall, I framed these two lit trees between flagpoles on the north lawn at dusk a couple of days ago. In the background, that streak of pink light at ground level is a skating rink, for those awaiting the Canal to freeze over.

Across the street, in Confederation Park, Christmas lights adorn trees in the park, mixing well with the snow... which seems to keep falling.

More lights in the park... and I don't believe I've shown this totem pole before. It's busy collecting snow at the moment.

On an earlier evening in the week, at the National War Memorial, the trees surrounding the monument are lit up for the Christmas season.

A straight on view of the Memorial with Christmas lights beyond makes for a dramatic image at night.

More Christmas lights tomorrow; I'll be showing you what Parliament Hill looks like at the moment.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tis The Season

This large but simple wreath can be found at the Lord Lansdowne retirement home, beside Abbotsford House and across from Lansdowne Park in the Glebe.

There's an office building downtown with a lovely atrium featuring a waterfall fountain. They've placed a Christmas tree on the overhanging terrace.

Here's the view from directly across.

On a very cold night at Carleton University, I stepped out of the very warm tunnel network to take a picture of this lit tree. My fingers were very unimpressed with me afterwards.

This tree is a bit more slender than I'd have thought suitable for a Christmas tree. It's inside the National Arts Centre lobby.

And over at the Government Conference Centre, this view of the front of the building features a large wreath over the main entrance.

Zooming in with the mobile gives us more of a view.