Monday, September 30, 2013

Shades Of Blue

The Rectory Art House stands next to St. Brigid's. It served as a home for the parish priests. The Rectory was turned over to a group of artists, the rooms now serving as studio space (with beautiful ten foot ceilings, yes, artists must suffer for their craft). Many people were passing through the house as we were there, taking in the exhibits. I found this room to be eye catching, lit in a moody and dreamy blue, the mannequin on the left seeming to come out of the wall.

And this is the kitchen in the Rectory, still in use today for the artists. I chatted with some who were in there.

To the cooks among my readers, could you see yourself spending time in here?

More to come from the Rectory...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

St. Brigid's

I started out Nuit Blanche at Arts Court, a maze of galleries, performance space, and studios in a former courthouse (and neglected to take shots inside). From there I went on through a couple of more studios over in the Byward Market before spending time in a cafe close to my destination, where the night's activities were based on a human library. Twenty or so individuals of various creative fields were sitting at tables for bookings of twenty minutes to a half hour, and I sat down and chatted with a graphic illustrator, a romance novelist, and two members of a dance company that consist of able bodied dancers and those who use wheelchairs. It's a fascinating experience, chatting with strangers who are of a creative streak, getting to know them, to the point where you feel a rapport and a kinship with them.

From there it was over to the nearby St. Brigid's Centre For The Arts. It was a Catholic church, with a rich history for the local Irish community. St. Brigid's was deconsecrated when the archdiocese decided to shut down the church several years ago (to the dismay of the parish). The church was bought and preserved, however, by a local group of Irish businessmen, and put to good use, turned into an arts centre and cultural home for the Irish community of the Ottawa Valley. It's a very fitting use for the place. The religious decorations remain in place throughout; for instance, you can see the cross of Christ in the second of these pictures on a pillar by the stage. The stations of the cross are still to be found where they were always mounted on the walls, the windows and art work are preserved, and this beautiful old church remains a vital presence in the community.

For Nuit Blanche, the Ottawa animation festival was in full swing, with animated images projected onto the screen set up on stage. There were people going in and out while I was in, as well as downstairs, where the old basement has been transformed into arts space, and where several sculptures were on display. The church was a busy place as I went through, testing the night features of the mobile for the first time.

I love the vaulted space of the sanctuary, and I'm glad the church is still seeing good use. As a cultural centre, it remains as the beating heart of the community. You'll see more of it in these blogs from time to time.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Prelude To An Evening Of Nuit Blanche

Last weekend, on a rainy Saturday night, the second annual Nuit Blanche took place here in Ottawa and Gatineau. From sunset to sunrise, the arts festival opened up galleries, arts spaces, museums, and more for visitors to come in and take in the evening's activities. It's a concept that has been growing in cities around the world for years now, and our local site for the evening can be found right here. If your city doesn't do this, show that site to your chamber of commerce, because it is a tremendously effective way to get to see another side of the city you might otherwise overlook. It was a very successful evening, with thousands of people strolling through various locations, taking in art, music, performance pieces, multimedia installations, and more. Over the next few posts, I'll be showing some of the evening's locales and events.

Before the evening got underway, I went up to Nepean Point, which overlooks the Ottawa River, and both cities. A statue of the French explorer Samuel de Champlain stands there, looking west over the river he came up four hundred years ago this year (check out the blog I wrote for Lyn Fuchs on Champlain's journey if you haven't seen it). For Nuit Blanche, a scaffolding was erected around the statue, complete with lighting, for a dramatic light show that was one of the centerpieces of the evening. You'll see pics of that to come. During the daytime, it was possible to go up top and get closer to Champlain than one is usually allowed to. Even on a grey, rainy day, it was impressive to get that close to the great man.

Friday, September 27, 2013

So Who Was Dow?

As the Rideau Canal winds its way through the city, roughly parallel to the Rideau River not far off, it comes to a large stretch of water, called Dow's Lake, named after a farmer who'd owned land here before the building of the canal. Seen here from the Bronson bridge, the lake is peaceful on this sunny day. Come winter, skaters will be below, gliding their way along over seven kilometres of skateway that wind through the city. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Nine Pounders

A few days ago, on a grey day, I found myself along Dow's Lake, where we have a monument set to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Canadian Naval Reserve. It's set outside of the former office headquarters of the H.M.C.S Carleton, a building which at present is undergoing some extensive work. Whether it's renovations or demolition, at the moment I don't know.

With the monument, which dates back to the seventies, there are also a pair of replica cannons posted  alongside, aimed out at the water (this time of year, aimed at the yachts and boats moored on the docks). They're based on the late eighteenth century models, and to complete the effect bear the royal crest of George III. When I took these shots, it had been a rainy morning, but the sun wasn't too far off.

These are nine pounders, for those of you who have a military interest. So called because the shells the real cannons used were nine pound shells. Just the sort of weapon that came in handy in naval warfare at the time. These replicas stand watch over the lake, a curiousity for those who go running or biking along the paths to the south, or to the nearby pavilion for a drink or a meal.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hunter And Hunted

Two blocks south of Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa is an office building that probably dates back to the 80s. The architecture is too modern to be earlier than that. It's made some creative use with the ample amount of sidewalk space outside, where we have two sculptures erected, both part of the other, separated by a garden that in the years since has grown to block the view. One is a First Nations hunter, who has prey nearby, and is reaching for his arrow.

This gives you a sense of where he's planning to aim. And yes, it's a nice area to sit. In the years since the sculptures were placed, the vegetation in the garden area has grown sufficiently that his quarry is now out of sight.

And here we have on the far side of the garden, his quarry: a deer. Has it detected the hunter? Is it about to sprint away before he can draw his bow? These two sculptures fascinate me in any season, with their attention to detail and the way they are bound together.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Artistic Stairs And Devious Rascals

Last time I mentioned that the stairs below had been put to creative use. There are two flights of stairs leading down towards the Rideau Canal, and this summer, for the second year, an artist has come in, painting on the vertical faces of the staircases to give us an artistic surprise as we come up from the Canal. This year, the design has been meant so that both staircases blend together, in a typical summer day. 

As I was taking the shot of the lower staircase, a squirrel happened to dash past, up the stairs. I decided to click to see if he'd turn up. Sure enough, the devious little rascal is right there in the water, just above the boat.

And this is taken from Plaza Bridge, giving you a sense of how the two designs look from a distance, as well as the placement and dimensions of the sitting area above. I'll show you more of the area around Plaza Bridge in time, below and above, to give you a sense of why it's so popular with wedding photographers.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Take Five

Across from the War Memorial, where Elgin Street starts to merge with Plaza Bridge, there's an area just off the main sidewalk, which in recent years has come to be a good rest spot in the summer. A staircase leads down from one side, and a pathway from another, both down towards the Rideau Canal below. Someone made the decision sometime back to put this space to use, placing Muskoka chairs (Adirondack chairs to you Yanks) there. Several clusters of the chairs are arranged for walkers to come in, have a seat and take a break, and it's quite a setting.

In the background, you can see the Chateau Laurier on the left. To the right, the columned building is the Government Conference Centre, once the train station. Unfortunately I can't take you in there until next summer; it's only open to the public for Doors Open, and it has the most beautiful room in the city inside. We'll just have to make do with exterior pics of that building from time to time.

We're not quite done with this location. Next time I'll show you the staircase behind this cluster of chairs, which represents another creative use of space. And Nuit Blanche was very successful this weekend, and there are plenty of pictures to come...

Through The Arch

At the top of Elgin, near Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier, stands sacred ground. The National War Memorial, a granite cenotaph also called The Response, is a national gathering point symbolizing the sacrifice of soldiers.

The memorial was unveiled in 1939 by King George VI, commemorating the serving men of the First World War. It has been extended to honour the veterans of the Second World War, the Korean War, and military operations since. Two allegorical angels representing peace and liberty stand at the top. Through the arch, twenty two over-sized men, women, and horse and artillery move through, representing the various services of the First World War. The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier stands at the base of the memorial.

The memorial is often the site of ceremonies for anniversaries of battles, where wreaths are laid. And frequently when foreign leaders pay a visit here, they place a wreath at the memorial. During the summer, members of the armed forces stand at post before it through the day.

I have photographed this place in all seasons and times of the day. It is a monument that resonates strongly with me, so you'll see it from time to time here.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dawn Of The Cold War

It doesn't look like much. It's an entirely unremarkable two story apartment building on Somerset, in the heart of the city, squeezed in between a beer store and an old house. I've passed it by countless times. Maybe four units total, from the looks of it. And yet this was a place where history was made, and where the Cold War drew some of its origins.

Igor Gouzenko was a cipher clerk in the Soviet Embassy here at the end of the Second World War. He lived in the upper right unit, with his wife and their children. His full story and more information can be found here through the CBC, and more details here. He took a hundred files out of the Embassy in September 1945, detailing Soviet espionage in the West, revelations that increased the growing tensions between the wartime Allies. The documentation and his inside knowledge proved to be damaging indeed.

Igor would live out the rest of his life here in Canada, under protection, writing a couple of books along the way. His memoirs ended up adapted into a movie starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews, called The Iron Curtain. For the rest of his life, fearing retaliation from the Soviets, on those rare occasions he would appear in public, for an interview with a reporter, for instance, he wore a hood or a mask. He died of natural causes in 1982.

Across the street is Dundonald Park, a small bit of greenspace in the heart of the city. In 2003, the city and the federal government put up two plaques commemorating Gouzenko. The first goes into greater detail. The second is the standard Canadian historical plaque. Though his wife had followed him to the grave, his children were still around that day for the unveiling.

Have you heard of Igor Gouzenko?

It might be a busy night for me, depending on if it's raining all day, as the forecasters suggest. Here in Ottawa we've got the second annual Nuit Blanche arts festival starting at sunset and going late, late, late into the night. If I'm taking it in, expect pictures soon!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Journey's End And Beginning

Here, from a lovely vantage point on Plaza Bridge, we have the Ottawa Locks, the end or the beginning of the Rideau Canal, depending on if you're coming or going.

It is a lovely spot to stroll down to the Ottawa River below. On a weekend the area is popular for wedding photography, so it's typical to see parties strolling about under the direction of a photographer this time of year. I'll keep my eyes out when I'm down there on a weekend.

There are eight locks in total for boats to navigate to or from the river, onto the Canal. UNESCO designated the Rideau Canal a World Heritage Site several years ago, and it dates back to the 1820s, designed and overseen by the military engineer Colonel John By as an alternative route away from the border with the Americans. It follows the Rideau River for much of its length, forming a parallel waterway where needed, and eventually finds an outlet at Kingston, on Lake Ontario.

On the upper left, you can see portions of the East Block on Parliament Hill. Beside the Canal on the left is the lockmaster station, which dates back to the 1880s. Down closer to the river is the old Commissariat, a stone building that is the oldest in the city, the original working headquarters for the canal project and Colonel By. Today it serves as the Bytown Museum. Across the river is the city of Gatineau in Quebec, where we'll go to on a regular basis. And on the right, the terrace and building you see is the magnificent Chateau Laurier. The hotel celebrated its centennial last year (its owner happened to be on the Titanic on its one and only trip, went down with the ship and a tremendous amount of luxurious furnishings meant for the Chateau, and is reputed to still haunt the hotel that he never got the chance to properly open). You'll see the Chateau on a regular basis too.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Up On The Hill

Welcome to Ottawa Daily Photo. I'm William Kendall, a writer, photographer, and all around scoundrel from the capital of the Great White North. In time to come, I'll be photographing on both sides of the Ottawa River, here and in Gatineau on the Quebec side. And I'll take things beyond that as well from time to time. This is a bit of a learning experience for me; I'm only starting to get used to digital photography, so there's a good deal of trial and error. I can also be found over at my writer's blog Speak Of The Devil. There my sense of mayhem and mischief generally displays itself three times a week. Here, we're looking for more of a daily schedule as I go along, though for the first few posts that might be every other day. We'll see. I will most likely at some point in the next few days set the publication time in advance, but for the moment, here we are.

This being the national capital of Canada, it seems entirely appropriate to begin with two shots from Parliament Hill. I will be shooting pics here on a regular basis. It seems I'll have to take the tour that the tourists take to show you some of the interior. The Hill is a busy place these days. While the politicians are still away on summer recess, the buildings themselves are in the midst of some extensive restoration work. Here is one of my favourite places to shoot: an arched entrance at the East Block, which perfectly frames the Peace Tower in the Centre Block.

Close by on the East Block, we find this doorway. It's been the subject of some of the restoration work recently, with sandblasting and general cleaning up well underway. I love the detail of the carving above. It's only now, while getting this post together, that I realize the photo has just a smidge of a tilt. I told you this was a learning process!