Thursday, October 23, 2014


Yesterday, a corporal named Nathan Cirillo lost his life while on duty. And it wasn't overseas on hazardous duties. It was here, as an honour guard at the War Memorial. It is a tradition for several years now to post sentries during the summer at the foot of the Memorial; they're on duty for an hour and relieved. There's a distinct ceremony to each change in shift, and I'd meant to photograph it. It should have been just another day, but a gunman shot the corporal there at the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier.

National War Memorial

There are still plenty of questions at this point in time. Was he acting alone or were there others? How did he get from the Memorial up into Centre Block armed? Unconfirmed reports circulated here through the day, people speaking with strangers to see what they knew. We do know that this particular gunman met his end in the Hall of Honour. Members of Parliament were in nearby rooms at the time, having caucus meetings. More than anyone else, the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons, a former Mountie named Kevin Vickers stopped him, shooting him down in this corridor. Many of our politicians and their staff literally owe him their lives.

Hall Of Honour, Parliament Hill

I was downtown at the time at an appointment, a few blocks away. Little did any of us know how radically the day would change. Buildings were evacuated, appointments interrupted, shops closed down, office towers and schools placed on lockdown. Buses and cars were re-routed, and a police line established in the core. There was an eerie quiet downtown- I've never heard it that quiet- and a tension on the faces of others, a sense of uneasiness. 

As I write this in the evening, I'm still feeling uneasy. I'm also feeling angry that someone has turned these places into crime scenes, into places of violence. Particularly with the Memorial, which I consider hallowed ground. A young man in the prime of his life is gone, just like that, killed by a coward. What his family must be going through...

It's been a difficult day. I think I'll leave off with two editorial cartoonists whose work, of what I've seen thus far, seem to be the most effective. Brian Gable works for The Globe And Mail, while Graeme Mackay draws for the Hamilton Spectator.


  1. I have no words.
    I am angry but also so very sad.


  2. Your words are perfect to the day. We feel deeply for you, our closest friends-

  3. I thought of you and Canada when I heard this news. I think the whole civilised world is thinking of your country; together, we will eventually overcome these barbarians.

  4. Thank you for sharing how it was and how you feel.
    In addition I am watching all the news videos out of Ottawa, through tears. Things were bad for you yesterday and from today life will never be the same. As an Israeli I sadly say to Canada, Welcome to the club.

  5. I just don't understand this... nobody hates Canada!
    Seriously though, I am glad to hear you are safe. I was thinking about you yesterday when I saw it all on the news. I also don't understand the motivation of some people. And it's extremely sad that these places of beauty and importance have been tainted.

  6. Greatly saddened to hear of this William, my heart goes out to the families of these brave young men who have lost their lives.

  7. Canada is and will remain a great nation.
    I feel what Happened in Ottawa.

  8. Sorry. Don't know what happened to my comment.
    I heard the news this morning and thought of you. My heart goes out to that soldier's family. Like you I consider war memorials as sacred. This evil will not win.

  9. Could not believe it when I heard it on the news this morning William, not in Canada. I was so impressed by the way the aftershock was handled. My heart goes out to the family of the young man, can't help wondering where it will all end.

  10. sad and scary
    I like the look of the Hall Of Honour

  11. The news from Ottawa led our news bulletin in Australia.
    My thoughts are with you all. Your post today so poignant. Best wishes from DownUnder.

  12. I am so glad you are alright… I have been thinking about you ever since I heard the terrible news. My thoughts are with you and everyone in Canada...

  13. What a terrible attack at an innocent guy just doing his duty. It was all on televison here too and everybody is very upset about it.

  14. It's very sad what happened overthere yesterday. I'm affraid we'll have to deal with this awfull acts of terror in the western world too.

  15. Such a sad day. An innocent young man taken so violently. As a mom of a son close to that age my heart breaks for the family. Our beautiful city changed just like that. I'm angry, too. So many questions as to why this was possible and why security so lax at the Hill.

  16. I was horrified by what happened I can only hope they sort out things quickly so thinks can get back to normal but in these times I fear it will be a while

  17. It's a very scary and no one knows what will happen next or where.

  18. @Parsnip: me too.

    @Whisk: definitely.

    @Cloudia: thank you.

    @Mike: whatever his motivations, it was barbaric, and deliberate.

    @Dina: it was just a matter of time.

    @Halcyon: it's something that's going to remain with us for a long time.

    @Denise: it could have been much worse. There were wounded, but aside from the corporal, it could have been far worse.

    @Tomas: thank you.

    @Andy: definitely.

    @Debs: they really are sacred.

    @Grace: it was one hell of a day yesterday.

    @Jen: it's such a beautiful space in there. It might be awhile before the public is allowed back there.

    @Peter: we have been lucky until now to have avoided these things.

    @Hilary: thank you.

    @Marianne: it's upset a lot of people here.

    @Jan: we will.

    @Deb: that's the big question. There are a lot of Mounties on the Hill. How on earth did he make it all the way into the building.

    @Bill: I hope the answers are coming soon.

    @EG: we don't.

  19. I was so shocked to hear this news and so sorry for you and your countrymen. There really seems to be a culture of hate and violence growing everywhere in the world. It doesn't make any sense to me. My thoughts are with you and everyone in your city.

  20. Sad, sad, sad... and shocking!
    I saw the scenes yesterday on TV...

  21. It is so sad, we do not usually associate your country with acts like these...

  22. We all need to carry on with heads held high. No one will ever terrorize Canadians. We will not live in fear. We will honour Nathan by doing this.
    Jane x

  23. Well, I thought of you immediately when I heard the news and hoped you weren't nearby taking photos on Parliament Hill. Today I read that the guy had some jihad connections. Plus, he supposedly was showing signs of mental illness. Got to say that, I guess, 'cause you wouldn't want some terrorizing religion to be responsible!

  24. Interesting observation by that editorial cartoonist about the 100 year-connection. Of course, this situation won't escalate like that one did but it's still very serious. With kind-hearted souls and brilliant minded individuals, such as yourself, the uneasiness will fade and Ottawa will get back to normal soon. Great post and I must say that I worried about you too.

  25. I also thought of you the minute I heard the news and I knew you would post on this today. I'm so sorry. What a mad world we are living in!

  26. @Sharon: there are a lot of things yet to be answered about this.

    @Karl: you don't expect it to be happening so close. The footage of people trying to do CPR on Cpl. Cirillo really got to me- a year ago I was involved in trying to keep a man who was having a cardiac episode going until the medics arrived; seeing that brought it all back.

    @VP: and yet it happened.

    @Jane and Chris: well said.

    @Lowell: well I was close enough, but not that close.

    @Tex: very senseless.

    @Eve: I hope things get back in order soon.

    @Jose: it is a mad world.

  27. It is sad that things like this happen in our world today. We haven't progressed that much from centuries past, it seems, when violence was a fact of life.

  28. I don't think it was a coincidence that this happened so soon after Canada joined the coalition against ISIS.

    You and all of our Canadian neighbors are in my prayers.

  29. It's tragic. When I heard on the news I wondered if you were affected. Take care.

  30. What a sad day for all of us. Evil knows no borders. I'm glad your oaky. I was thinking of you.

  31. It is a shaky time for all of us! I could feel a bit of tension around this morning as I went about my business. It is not something we expect to happen here.

  32. i thought of you when i saw the news yesterday...these are some scary sad and tragic...prayers to his loved ones and your city...

  33. Heard about this yesterday when news went on and thought of you. VERY glad you are safe, and do be vigilant for goodness sakes! It's so easy for (&$@*%&#$$) people like this to take advantage of opportunities where they can take a person by surprise! Yes. That was a coward, for sure! Take care.

  34. The news here in France has covered this sad story in great detail. Our thoughts and prayers are with you folks in Ottawa. Stay safe.

  35. I don't normally listen to the news very much but Stuart is right, there's been a lot of coverage here. Sadly, and however scared we might be or however despicable we might find terror, I don't believe this will stop anytime soon... I'm merely sorry that Canada now has joined the 'club' of all the countries where it has happened before and most likely will happen again...

  36. @Cheryl: there are times when it feels like we have not.

    @Revrunner: it feels like a punch in the gut. For Americans, it would be the same if this were done in Arlington Cemetery.

    @Norma: it's starting to sound like this man was deeply disturbed. I heard the term microterrorism used today.

    @Linda: and it could have been a lot worse.

    @Cheryl: thank you.

    @RedPat: it's been like that here too.

    @Tanya: you don't expect it, and then it happens.

    @Lorelei: there's a special place in hell reserved for a coward that guns down a man standing post at a place like that.

    @Stuart: thank you.

    @Ciel: it doesn't surprise me that it made the news in many places. And it's a surprise that we've avoided that fate until now.

  37. My own son is in our military and on course at CFB Borden. My niece lives around the corner from Cpl. Nathan Cirillo's parents, in Hamilton. Her boyfriend was in the Argylls reserves. It all hits just too close to home. My heart aches for his family.

  38. The support from around the world has been amazing.
    He was a madman kid who wanted death by cop.
    I'm so shocked, but happy the MPs made it back in today.
    Good you are alright. I was emailing like stink trying to find out where my kids were.
    My granddaughters were in 'safe & secure', with a power outage at the school! They were pretty much oblivious, which is as it should be.
    Terrible that people are sucking these young people into their mad vortex of hate.

  39. I thought of you the minute I heard about it William and I'm glad you are alright. We are living in scary times. I will never understand why people do these things.

  40. that ceiling is a gorgeous piece of architecture!! ( :

  41. @Hilary: it really does hit too close to home.

    @Jennifer: a lot of people were worried yesterday.

    @Lois: we really are in scary times, it seems.

    @Beth: it is so grand inside there. That corridor in particular, I just love it.

  42. It was very sobering watching people stopping by the armouries to pay their respects to Cpl Cirillo and lay flowers and cards. A shocking day yesterday.

  43. I've been watching and reading this and my heart goes out to everyone. I know how hard it is to see something like that happen and it is not something that ever really goes away. Sending my best wishes.

  44. Good post! We toured the Parliament building when visiting in Ottawa in '96.

  45. William, your post today is perfect. Everyone everywhere is thinking about Ottawa. Today we are all Canadians.

  46. I was so sorry to hear this on the news yesterday.

  47. I was thinking about you yesterday. It is heartbreaking all over Canada, but it must be hard being so close. Such a terrible tragedy.

  48. I've thought of you throughout the news casts...such a sad tragedy. I've got a background in Counseling/Psychology, and even so, I absolutely don't get how a person gets to this point of action. It absolutely boggles my mind. My heart goes out to the soldier's family...and to all of Ottawa...even if you aren't directly involved in this type of an incident, it is still a violation of one's sense of security, one's sense of nationality, one's psyche, and one's soul.

  49. We were shocked when hearing about this horrific event, and we think of you all.

  50. Wow! Such a tragedy. It does change one's perspective doesn't it? We are free no matter what one coward does. Such sorrow for Cpl.Cirillo's family. MB

  51. What a tragedy! Please, don't chance Canada!

  52. @Hamilton: it's been a rough few days. Tomorrow here will reflect that.

    @Meradeth: thank you.

    @Pamela: apparently the tours are back on again.

    @Jack: thank you.

    @Randy: it was a hard day.

    @Jen: it was quite a tragedy.

    @Chieftess: it really is.

    @Marleen: thanks.

    @MB: it does change perspective.

    @Jeroen: I hope we don't.