Saturday, November 30, 2013

One Can Never Have Too Much Snow

On Wednesday morning I woke up, took a look out the living room window at my place, and this is what greeted me.

Yes, snow. Lovely, lovely, white fluffy snow. We've had snow flakes and small snowfalls earlier in the season, but this is the first relatively significant one of the season. My good friend and esteemed partner in crime Norma seems to think I'm crazy for liking winter.

Over at Carleton University, this pathway may be plowed, but you can see the amount of snow burying the brush at the side of the path.

There's a station on campus for a commuter train. This is what it looked like early in the morning.

While up in the Glebe, the snow was clinging to the trees, giving us a world of white.

Now, if we're really lucky, we'll have this gorgeous snow around until the end of May.

Tomorrow is City Daily Photo Theme Day. I've already got my post in drafts. For those photobloggers who haven't taken their shots yet... for the love of Odin! Get out there, you fools!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Charge Of The Santa Claus Brigade

I couldn't help it with that title. I'm silly that way.

A week ago, I was walking towards downtown when the snow started. I arrived just in time to see the tail end of the Ottawa Santa Claus Parade, including the jolly elf himself. I did, however, miss what I assume was the presence of a local group that always marches in parades, local Star Wars fans who come out dressed like Storm Troopers, Sith lords, and Jedi Knights. Oh well, there's always St. Patrick's Day....

Thursday, November 28, 2013


No, not the Rob Ford kind of stoned. And no, not the Old Testament kind either. MacDonald Gardens is east of the Byward Market. There's a stone shelter set on a rise here. I visited the park several weeks ago when things were nice and green.

I've liked the way the arches can frame a photograph.

This arch looks west, where you can see the spire of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Every once in awhile, an artist captures the essence of the subject on canvas or in sculpture. Such is the case here, with a sculpture outside the National Arts Centre. Oscar Peterson played with the legends of jazz, and was a legend in his own right, composing music, touring the world until the last year of his life. Home was always in Canada though.

I never got the chance to see him in concert, but I have a number of  his albums, and he's the best jazz musician this country has ever produced. I'd even say the greatest pianist we've ever given the world, though Glenn Gould afficianados will disagree. He played in the NAC from time to time since its opening, and it's fitting that the sculpture is here. It looks as though he's just finished a set at the piano, and is taking in the applause of the audience. The bench makes for a good photo-op, since people can sit right beside the slightly larger than life sculpture of the great man. 

There are speakers set above the sculpture, playing Peterson recordings through the day and into the night. The sculpture was unveiled by the Queen during her last visit in 2010, and has been a popular place to stop ever since. I like the attention to detail in the sculpture, from the clothing to the expression on his face. It really shows the spirit of the man himself.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Two different men, but both examples of great courage. I took these shots some weeks ago by Parliament Hill.

Terry Fox lost the better part of a leg to cancer, but didn't let that bring him down. He set out from the eastern edge of Newfoundland in 1980, dipping a foot into the Atlantic, running the equivalent of a marathon a day west along the Trans Canada, aiming to reach the West Coast to raise money for cancer research. Gradually more and more interest in this young man grew across the country, and his example inspired people. Crowds came out to cheer him on, to see him, to give money. He didn't reach his goal, illness overtaking him near Thunder Bay, Ontario, the cancer that had taken his leg returning, ending his Marathon of Hope. A few months later, he passed away. Yet in his wake, people followed his example to keep raising money for cancer research in his name. Each year, Terry Fox runs are held in Canada and across the world. Fox made a difference in life, and in death, his legacy proving so vital to countless lives, good work coming from his name. The man lives on as an example of courage. The statue stands just off Parliament Hill, but in a place where it's sure to draw passersby. A larger monument stands along the Trans Canada where his journey came to an end.

You can see this second statue across the street in the first photograph, before the entrance into Parliament Hill. The sculpture is done in the classic Galahad motif, commemorating a man whose courage is not nearly as known as Terry Fox, but is just as true. Henry Harper (no relation to the control freak currently in the Prime Minister's Office) was a journalist and friend of the future Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. In December 1901, he was among people in a skating party on the Ottawa River when a young woman fell through the ice. He went in after her, though both drowned. Reportedly, his last words were "what else can I do?" No hesitation; he gave his own life trying to save another. It's the very essence of a heroic act. This statue is the only one on the Parliamentary precinct that does not depict a politician or a monarch.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hockey Central

Several weeks ago I was out in Kanata, in the west end portions of Ottawa, where the Senators play at what's now being called the Canadian Tire Centre. This was in the morning, so the parking lots were empty, the only people present being those who had business to see to. 

The place is very different on a game night, or when some other event is going on. Thousands of people will come through these doors into the building to catch some hockey or a concert. The team has, over the last few years, consistently been a contender, breaking hearts some years ago by getting all the way to the Stanley Cup finals and just missing by that much. They've gotten off to a rough start this year, but it's still early. Hope springs eternal, and our time will come...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Who's A Good Boy?

November and December mean Christmas bazaars on the weekends here. A week ago I was on my way into St. Giles Presbyterian Church in the Glebe, when I saw this magnificent fellow waiting for his human near the side door of the church.

I came back out shortly after, and he was still present and accounted for, so I took a couple of shots. His human told me she'd named him Hank. He was a very friendly chap.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cold War And Peacekeeping

Concluding our tour through the War Museum today. The last section starts us off with the Cold War, dealing extensively with the Korean War (which I should have photographed), the tensions of the era, and the proxy conflicts between both sides across the world.

Below is the crest of NORAD, the joint U.S.-Canadian defense command organization, a legacy of the Cold War.

Peacekeeping is also a legacy of the time, using soldiers to keep the peace between opposing factions to prevent war. It's been done through the UN for decades, and Canadian personnel have often served in such capacities. There have been times when even the price for peacekeeping has been steep. This is one of the typical transport vehicles used for peacekeepers.

Another one of the displays in the museum, this is a replica of a UN post in Cyprus. Here we have the soldier's sentry position.

While right next to it we have a reproduction of a cafe a soldier might come across while on duty in that country.

Finally, on Remembrance Day, a veteran of the Afghan War was standing next to this display case of current day weaponry, speaking with people about the specifics of the weapons. Some are heavy, while one in particular is meant as a sidearm. The one at the centre of the pic, the smaller one with the red insignia on it, is an MP5. This is commonly used by boarding parties in the navy, as well as by counter-terrorist units and police across the world. As a writer, I incorporated this weapon particularly into the last act of a novel, as the primary weapon of a counter-terrorist unit. It's odd to be seeing it up close.

Well, that's quite enough of the brutality of war for a good while. We're going to be moving into other places for the next little while. I've got a backlog of photos in drafts or in my email. Some of which were taken in September.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Drive Towards War's End

Finishing up the section of the museum dealing with the Second World War today, first we have this Sherman tank, one of the best all around tanks ever built. Canadian troops used this one during the Normandy campaign.

As this section of the museum concludes, there's a small tile on display, a tile from Hiroshima.

And another end of the war display. This captured Nazi flag, the symbol of evil itself walking the earth, contrasts sharply with the newspaper headlines and photos around it that rang out victory in Europe in 1945.

Tomorrow we conclude our look at the War Museum, running up to the current day. Then it's time to move onto other things.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Above Lebreton Gallery

This German tank, damaged during the Italian campaign, ended up in Canadian hands, and is displayed in the section of the museum dealing with that theatre of the Second World War.

Next to this section of the museum is the extensive area examining the Normandy campaign. I thought I'd photograph this panel; it's a good piece of trivia.

There's a door close to this panel that opens up onto a balcony that overlooks the Lebreton Gallery below. The Gallery is filled with tanks, transports, artillery, and more from multiple countries. There's space for a stage for choirs, a common occurrence during the days leading to Remembrance Day. There is even a submarine down in there, and a  World War Two weather station left by a German U-boat in the northern stretches of Labrador, and not discovered until the 1980s. I'm glad I took these shots anyway. At some point when I return to the museum, I'll have to take pictures down below.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Gathering Storm

Coming into the World War Two section at the museum, the visitor sees panels exploring the dynamics of the world in the 1930s, particularly the movements of what came to be called the Axis powers. The first item we actually see is this car, one of Hitler's personal fleet. It ended up in Canadian hands after the war, and has been in the museum collection since. It might only be a car, on the surface, but I always feel a sense of unease about it.

One of those things you have to look up at to notice. This is a recreation of a balloon bomb. The Japanese sent these up into the winds over the Pacific, with the idea to have them descend over North America and explode. A number of them made it all the way; there's a nearby map showing locations in Canada and the United States where balloon bombs exploded. One happened to reach as far east as Detroit.

This large truck is typical of the transports being used by Allied forces in the Second World War.

Another section in which it helps to look up. The fighter is positioned up above the visitor passing among the exhibits. I'm not absolutely certain, but I believe it's a Spitfire.

There is a section here in the War Museum that deals with the drive through Sicily and the Italian peninsula. Among the displays are two life sized soldiers, on  either side of a ruined wall. The visitor passes them by. The first here is a Canadian, and the second is German.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Cost Of Victory

Every once in awhile, you have to look up in this museum. A biplane is positioned overhead in an area dealing with the critical battle of Vimy Ridge, a Canadian victory in the First World War.

Nearby stands another cannon of the time.

The full horrors of the War are depicted most effectively a bit further on, in a portion dealing with the battle of Passchendaele, a clash that was typical of fighting on the Western Front. The land was pounded into mud, with weapons, equipment, and even the bodies of men buried deep in the muck. Photographs of the area show the sheer totality of the damage to the landscape. And this display allows the visitor to get a sense of the conditions faced by soldiers at the time. It's little wonder that so many came back shell shocked, another subject dealt with close to this display.

A transport vehicle of the time. As the war went on, as more and more men died under the orders of officers using outdated tactics against new technologies, a stalemate ensued. It would finally be broken by the Hundred Days, in which combined arms fighting would prove to be decisive.

Still, the end of the war didn't solve the problems that had started it. Millions had died, and millions more were wounded or emotionally scarred. The map of the world was radically reorganized, but the issues that had led to the Great War remained, along with new scars that twenty years later would lead to an even more  terrible war. Here at the end of the World War One section, there is a stained glass window, something very typical of families of dead soldiers to have done, placed in churches, for instance.