Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Auld Lang Syne: Forgetting Past Acquaintances

"What does this song mean? My whole life, I don't know what this song means. I mean, should old acquaintance be forgot? Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible, because we already forgot?" ~ Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally

I thought I would mark the passing of the year with two of the first shots I took in 2014. These were taken in Mississauga on New Year's Day. The Credit River passes through the Streetsville area on its way to Lake Ontario. The footbridge below passes over it. This parkland is very close to my aunt and uncle's home.

This being an Ottawa photo blog, though, I must also close out with a shot from Ottawa. I decided a shot of my occasional series subject, the Bank Street Bridge, would do. This shot is from early January. The pond is near the bridge, and linked to the Rideau Canal. When water levels in the Canal drop, it does the same here in the pond. About a year ago, a resident in the area erected an inukshuk on this mound facing the bridge there in the background. The inukshuk has stayed in place since, and when the water levels came back up in the spring, the head and shoulders remained above the waterline. I don't think the ice on the pond is quite set for walking yet, so I haven't been up this close in awhile.

Happy New Year! Don't have so much to drink that you end up kissing someone you actually dislike at midnight!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Views Of The Rideau Canal In Winter Glory

Two other views of the Rideau Canal from within the Convention Centre, taken in March. The National Arts Centre on the other side will be getting a major expansion, announced a few days ago by the Dark Lord's Cabal (otherwise known as two members of the Prime Minister's Cabinet, one of them being the Walking Temper Tantrum currently serving as our foreign minister. John Baird, if you ever happen to see these words, holding your breath or screaming bloody murder when you don't get your own way are not the ideal techniques of diplomacy, you bloody prat!). 

It'll be designed to offset the Sixties era architecture (the 60s were not a good era for architecture). The NAC is a major setting for music and theatre here, with the NAC Orchestra in the midst of a final season under its current primary conductor, the renowned Pinchas Zuckerman, who has spent fifteen years here leading the orchestra and will be moving on to new things after this year's programming concludes. He will be missed.

I love getting into this building and taking advantage of the glass wall to frame shots. Here we look just a little further up the Canal and spot Parliament Hill.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Winter Would Be Welcome Anytime Now

"But how can we appease the mighty Snow Demons if we don't sacrifice any leaves? We'll have a warm winter." ~ Calvin
"I don't know whether your grasp of theology or meteorology is the more appalling." ~ Calvin's Dad

Some much missed banter from Calvin & Hobbes that fits nicely, I think. I took a series of shots inside the Ottawa Convention Centre back in early March at a time when I had a glut of Winterlude photographs, so they went unpublished. This one looks out through the glass wall at Confederation Park and City Hall, while the Rideau Canal passes beneath the Mackenzie King Bridge. The ice is not at present in such good shape!

Over at my writer's blog, my review for The Hobbit is set to post at the same time as this post, so have a look by clicking there to the right.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Mother Dinosaur Is Always Watchful

Since I showed again the mammoths on the property at the Museum of Nature yesterday, I thought an encore for the other sculptural installation was in order. This is on the east lawn at the museum, a mother and baby pair of dinosaurs by the scientific name chasmosaurus irvinensis. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

We Have Mammoths In Strange Places

My brain is in a med-infused fog, and I didn't prep blogs in advance. So I'll just show a pic from last winter. This family of mammoths are on the grounds of the Museum of Nature. When I first showed this pic, I got a comment from a sister of the woman who put these sculptures together.

No, we don't have that much snow on the ground here. Not yet!

By the way, for City Daily Photo bloggers, the theme for January 1st is Photo Of The Year.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Sunflower Art In The Depths Of Winter

I had the distinct displeasure of spending my Christmas Eve at the hospital after taking a misstep on a staircase while heading for home, ramming my leg into the edge of a step, and uttering a few choice bad words. Sufficed to say, there'll be some bruises, the leg's stiff and sore, and I'm really not a fan of painkillers. 

Something more cheerful: this mural of a sunflower is painted on a house up the street from my home. I have shown different angles of the art from before, but it's welcome to revisit it again.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sanctuary Ready For Christmas Day

Joyeux Noel, Fijne Kerstdagen, Nollaig Shana, Buon Natale, Hyvaa Joulua, Frohe Weihnachten, God Jul, Nadolig Llawen, Feliz Navidad, and Merry Christmas!

Church Of Our Lady Immaculate, Guelph, December 2013 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Red, Green, And A Dash Of White

"Santa Claus has the right idea: visit people only once a year." ~ Victor Borge

"The two most joyous times of the year are Christmas morning and the end of school." ~ Alice Cooper

"The main reason Santa is so jolly is he knows where all the bad girls live." ~ George Carlin

"The ideal Christmas wish would be for Justin Bieber to develop a crippling and permanent case of laryngitis. If we can't get that, I'll settle for reading the obituary of my idiot former brother-in-law." ~ William Kendall

I shall be cornering the world market on coal in my stocking as usual, but this Christmas Eve I've gone with two shots from Parliament Hill. I have not had the chance to photograph the lights up there this year, but they are beautiful.

I have my annual Christmas Eve post scheduled to publish at the same time as this one over at my writer's blog, a blend of twisted mayhem and nonsense that will pretty much cement that fate of coal in my stocking (as if writing Santa's eulogy a few days ago didn't already guarantee it). If you're not around through the holidays, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Does He Still Make A Racket?

My post from yesterday about Toronto sent me through photos from my trip down there last year, and this caught my eye. I posted about Linus the Harrier Hawk, who was appearing with his handler at the Royal Ontario Museum before a crowd. He was making a lot of noise that day, reveling in being the center of attention.

My other shots were taken from the above angle. I found an unpublished shot from the other side of the fine fellow. I like the facial expressions of the kids.

And speaking of making a loud racket (in the best of ways), last night while reading a blog I learned of the passing of Joe Cocker. His biggest years as a musician were well before my time, but I got to know his music through soundtracks like Blown Away and The Cutting Edge, and got to enjoy his unique voice. Here is one of my favourites. Rest in peace, Joe.

Regarding my blog from a couple of days ago, I will be writing a review for The Hobbit in my writer's blog, probably a couple of days before the end of the year. I'll post a notice here when it's good to go live.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Lighting Up That Reindeer

Perhaps one of my Toronto area readers can say if the giant Christmas reindeer in the Eaton Centre are back again? This was taken last December.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Dark Lords And Dwarves

I saw the third film in The Hobbit trilogy last night. Inspiration led me to add Middle Earth memes to this photograph I took of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.

Incidentally, if Prime Minister Harper ever sees these, so much for any chance at a cushy appointment. Oh well, more's the pity.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sanctuary Woodwork

The Gothic Revival style of First Baptist Church appeals to me. This view of the altar includes the lectern, which happens to include inscriptions for a military serviceman. I'll have to photograph it in detail the next time I step in.

As before, I really like that ceiling.

Friday, December 19, 2014

First Baptist Church

I'm spending a couple of days inside First Baptist Church downtown in Ottawa. I posted about it here during Doors Open. 

The organ loft from the sanctuary floor gives us a glimpse of that beautiful stained glass window.

And this is the other military plaque in the church, honouring those who died in the First World War from the congregation.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Lights

Taken at dusk, these Christmas lights are in the South Keys area. The hotel property has several of them lit up.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Falling Water

Christmas trees can be found in many places in Ottawa, such as in the atrium of this office building.

A waterfall spills down beside it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


This wreath hangs outside the Lord Lansdowne retirement home in the Glebe. I've shown it before, but I like the simplicity of the wreath.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Bear

I found this photograph in my archives from last year. I remember taking the shots, but not publishing them. The bear sculpture is at the end of Sparks Street, facing the War Memorial, and has been there for many years. Someone at the time thought it was a good idea to add some Christmas decorations to the sculpture, in the form of the ribbon and Christmas lights. The widow of the artist did not like that at all, and the additions were quickly removed.

The electronic screen and billboard behind this have since been removed. There was talk for awhile of moving the bear down the street; some buffoon thinks a sculpture of the Stanley Cup should be placed here, simply because the concept of a hockey championship was hatched at this intersection in the 19th Century. It might have been the same dolt who thought the lights and ribbon was a swell idea. If by chance this post falls under the eyes of the aforementioned buffoon: you're an idiot, sir or madam (most likely sir, and why on earth am I being polite by using polite terms? As I said, I think you're an idiot). 

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Rounding out my series for the Buskers Festival today, we finish with this complicated act. People from the audience were brought in (as is often the case with buskers), while the two performers you see here were juggling knives. They crouched down for the third member of the act to jump over the whole lot while the knives were being thrown. Needless to say, the audience loved it.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


This busker on Sparks Street was in the midst of a juggling act for the audience, who were quite caught up in his antics. Here he was using balls, but the act would progress to involve bowling pins, knives, and even lit torches.

Friday, December 12, 2014


While living statue buskers get a steady amount of business and tips during their performances, often lasting an hour, their audience tends to be more transitory, watching for a few minutes and moving on. That's not the case here, where the act has the audience more stationary. Here on Sparks Street, these two are balanced (for the moment), high on these customized unicycles.

You try that.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tin Woman

The events at the Bytown Museum were not the only festival going on here in Ottawa on the Civic Holiday weekend. We have an annual Buskers Festival on the Sparks Street pedestrian mall featuring performers, acrobats, jugglers, mural artists, and other acts that draw out the crowds to watch. This first act was a woman doing the living statue act, entirely in silver as a robot. She reminded me of the Tin Man of the Oz books. It's fun watching living statue performers engage with the audience. They're mute, and occasionally move. Little kids are particularly astonished by living statue performers in a way that doesn't happen with other buskers; it's as if they don't quite know if they're real or not. 

There has been another living statue busker here in previous years named Kate Mior, but she was absent this year. She has a few personas in her act, including one being Marie Antoinette and another being a windup doll. Watching her perform and silently flirt with her audience is a blast. Another absent busker this year was Bendy Em, an Australian contortionist who can fold her entire body into a square glass box. Hopefully both return next year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Colonel

Today I finish this series within the Bytown Museum with this bust of Colonel By himself. I will be back in here again sometime soon.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Old Time Tools

A note to those of you wondering what the captcha issues are about Blogger. Apparently the issue is being worked on as of this writing. There is a temporary fix for those of us who never use captchas on our blogs; if you have your comments set up as a pop up window, switch to embedded status instead. My writing blog was set the other way, and I've switched over to embedded for it. No more unwanted captchas.

I have more artifacts in the Bytown Museum today, including these tools in the cabinet. The building of the Rideau Canal established the city, and some of the tools we see here would have been typical of that time. In the years afterwards, Bytown was a rough and tumble lumber town, known for being rather violent, which is addressed in the museum's exhibits. The town was renamed Ottawa in 1855, and designated the capital by Queen Victoria. Whether or not she simply pointed to the map and said "there" is another matter.

 Taking the name of the river, which in turn is named after the First Nations tribe, the city evolved from there. Still, Colonel By's name and legacy is all over the map and history of Ottawa.

Monday, December 8, 2014

An Engraved Table

Here we have another one of the visual treats in the Bytown Museum. This wood table, protected by a glass cover, has an etched map of the area carved into it. The craftmanship of the carver really appeals to me. Come to think of it, that cover does a nice job keeping the dust off the surface.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Jogging My Memory

Looking at this picture, I'm reminded of Long Way Round, the documentary series following Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on a motorbike trip around the world. On more than one occasion the two remark on how they don't know this or that about the place they're in. Such is the case with this, taken in the Bytown Museum on Colonel By Day. Usually with a digital camera I'd photograph the display tag as a reminder of what it is for reference in a post, something that'll come in handy, for instance, in an art gallery. Instead I find myself looking at this picture and wondering, "so what was this about again?"

Anyway, the display has something to do with weights and measures, I think (fingers crossed), about blocks in the building of the Canal by Colonel By and his work crew. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Haunted Museum?

Stepping into the Bytown Museum today for the first of several posts, we find ourselves looking first into the stone vault, built into the structure a few years after it was erected. The walls in here are thick, and it might remind you of a cell, particularly with that gate.

The building was originally a storehouse and treasury for John By's work on the Canal, and then used as a storehouse for the government for many years after until the 1950s, when the museum took over the structure to house its collection of local history artifacts. The building is as solid as ever, a testament to the skill of the masons who built it. It might be a pleasant place in the day... but night is another matter. The Museum has become a regular stop on the Haunted Walks held here in the downtown core.

There are a few ghost stories here. Lights go on and off by themselves. Footsteps and whispers are heard where there is no one present. Electronic devices behave in odd ways when no one is near them. Dolls in a cabinet are said to have eyes that blink and follow visitors. And some visitors have felt being pushed. Is Colonel By still here? One of his aides? Perhaps some of the thousand odd workmen who died during the building of the Rideau Canal?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pleasure Boats In The Ottawa Locks

We have another look at boats in the Ottawa Locks from the area around the Museum. Major's Hill Park is at the top of that tree lined bluff, tucked away behind the Chateau Laurier. If you look to the left, you'll see Nepean Point. That figure you can just make out on top of the promontory is the statue of Samuel de Champlain, which I showed you a few days ago.

The park still has the foundations of the home where John By and his family stayed during the Canal's construction. It burned after their return to Europe, but traces of it are still there. Take a look at this post for a look at the site.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Rideau Canal And The Chateau Laurier

Alongside the Bytown Museum and the walkway down to the Ottawa River, there are plenty of chances to take in the  Rideau Canal here at the Ottawa Locks. Depending on the size of the boats, six of them can fit into a lock at any one time. These boats are heading up from the River onto the Canal, and they have a total of eight locks to travel, ascending a height of 24.1 metres (79 feet) from the river to the passage of the Canal through the city; from here the next set of locks are up at Carleton University. It can take an hour and a half to ascend or descend the locks.  Having the Chateau in the background certainly makes for a pleasing image.

I had to look twice at the pic when I first saw it. The person on the forward right side of the nearest boat looked naked.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Taking In Two Views Of The Bytown Museum

These two were engaged in colouring a mural that had been hung up on the wall below the Museum as part of the day's festivities. The Museum is the oldest stone building in the city, having had been John By's headquarters during the construction of the Canal. Today it serves as a local history museum, but since Ottawa is the capital of the country, the local history blends together with the national history.

Stepping further back, we get a wider view of the Chateau, the Canal, and the Museum.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Above The Ottawa Locks For The Rideau Canal Festival

This shot is taken from Plaza Bridge on Colonel By Day. The Ottawa Locks, as the last (or first) set of locks on the Rideau Canal are called, descend down towards the Ottawa River, nestled between Parliament Hill and the Chateau. The building at the left along the Canal is the lockmaster station, dating back to the 1880s. Down the hill is the Bytown Museum, which was John By's Commissariat when he was overseeing the building of the Canal from 1826-1832. I've shown you the outside before, and we'll see more of it, both inside and outside, to come.

The Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Colonel By Day intersects with the final day of the Rideau Canal Festival, marked along the length of the waterway in communities. Here at the Ottawa Locks, as you go along the path down to the river, the day features demonstrations by re-enactors such as blacksmiths and weavers, musical performances on a stage by the Museum, and local history and cultural societies setting up tables with information and items of interest. It's a good way to spend an afternoon getting to know the city's history and heritage, complete with a visit inside the museum.

Compare and contrast the view with one I took from Plaza Bridge in the late summer of 2013, on a quiet day.

Monday, December 1, 2014

City Daily Photo Theme Day: People In Their Workplace

The first day of each month is a theme day for photobloggers from around the world belonging to the City Daily Photo community. For the first of December, the theme is People In Their Workplace. You can find other interpretations of the theme right here.

I was out and about on the Civic Holiday weekend in August. Here in Ottawa we call it Colonel By Day, after John By, the founder of the city and the man who led the construction of the Rideau Canal. It's a busy day at the Ottawa Locks, here where the Canal meets the Ottawa River. I've chosen two people in period clothing as my people in their workplace subjects. They were two of several people in period clothing from the early 19th century, engaging with the public down along the Canal. These re-enactors would be members of local historical societies, but being in those clothes on a hot day certainly rates as a working day. The building in the background is the Chateau Laurier.

I have more shots from Colonel By Day to come in the days ahead.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Razem Frazem! (Farewell To Old Film)

I could have also titled this post Doctor Strangefilm: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Red Glow. 

I still had a disposable camera lying about with shots I took from the Civic Holiday weekend in August, and had it developed this week. I hadn't had a camera on hand on Canada Day, so I ended up buying a double pack of one time use cameras. Some of the shots came out nicely, and I'll go through them in the next few days (some nice warm weather shots for those of you in the cold). Others? Well, let's just say they looked really weird....

I wasn't sure about posting this one. Though realistically, the problems with the image are merely at the sides. Namely that black edge on the left and the hint of a red glow on the right. The rest of the shot is fine. These two soldiers were standing guard at the War Memorial that weekend. The Memorial has had some additions on it since then, unveiled on Remembrance Day: below the dates of the First World War is a new inscription in metal, in both English and French: in service of Canada. Dates for the Afghan War and the South African War have also been added elsewhere on the Memorial's stone.

Sufficed to say, lesson learned: always have a proper camera close at hand.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Paper, Politics, Money, And The River

Since I've been spending the last two days speaking about Yousuf Karsh, his brother Malak Karsh was mentioned. Malak became a landscape photographer, travelling across Canada and in other places, photographing the land and the people in astonishing detail in both black and white as well as in colour. Like his brother, he worked late into life, and his skill with the camera was just as good. Wisely in choosing landscape photography, he forged his own path, professionally going by his first name. Between the two of them, they were the best photographers the country has produced.

Malak took this photograph, entitled Paper & Politics, in 1963, on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, looking out at Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier. The tugboats were involved in dealing with the breakup of a log boom upstream. This was back in the day when fleets of timber were still floated down the river.

Paper & Politics, by Malak, 1963
The two brothers had their work together on the Canadian one dollar bill for many years until it was replaced by the dollar coin in the Eighties. Many Canadians will remember it. One of Yousuf's portraits of the Queen was on the one side. Malak's image above was adapted and engraved onto the other, as you see below.

This is the view today from the same spot; I took it this past May during the Tulip Festival. A bed of tulips has been planted here where Malak took that shot of the Hill and has been named in his honour. It is a fitting tribute to a man who was instrumental in the creation of the festival, and part of the lifeblood of the city and the country.

A reminder to City Daily Photo bloggers: the theme for December 1st is Workers.