Sunday, March 8, 2015

From The Mists Of Time

I could have used the photograph in this first shot for this month's aging theme. It is placed in the Ottawa Room, and dates back to 1898. The view is from a building that stood where the Government Conference Centre now stands, on the east side of the Rideau Canal. My search through fire insurance maps from the era was for the name of this building; it was likely the original train station that stood here, one that predated the construction of the building, which dates back to 1912. The photo itself has similarities and differences to the view from this area today. The two bridges you see here merging here, Dufferin and Sappers Bridges, are no more; there was a reconfiguration of the roads here, and Plaza Bridge replaced them. The building at the left was the main Post Office of its time; the National War Memorial stands now in its place. The building to the right of Sappers Bridge is still there- it's the lockmaster station for the Ottawa Locks. Parliament Hill lurks in the background, but this dates back to before the 1916 fire, which destroyed the Centre Block at the time. While the East and West Blocks closer to the street were untouched by that fire, only the Parliamentary Library, at the extreme right of the photograph, survived the destruction of Centre Block itself.

It is not possible to get into the Government Conference Centre for a comparison shot- the only time in the past for the public to access it has been during Doors Open, but the building is undergoing work as it will be a temporary home to the Senate during renovations on the Hill in the coming years. For comparison to then and now, this view is by the Canal below the Centre, a short distance south of the bridge, taken last summer. The Centre Block of today is most noticeably different from the one in 1898 by the presence of the Peace Tower and its distinctive clock. Plaza Bridge is also higher than Sappers and Dufferin Bridges were. The foundation stones of Sappers Bridge can still be found along the west walkway, beneath the bridge.

And this view on the north side of the Conference Centre was taken last spring. Dufferin Bridge, if it was still here today, would be starting below where I was standing, and down near the level where those women are walking.


  1. Ottawa must be a wonderful city!


  2. Interesting that we've both got a similar theme this weekend. How tragic about the fire in 1916. Fire fighting would have been much less effective then - and perhaps more wood in the buildings?
    Ongoing change in Ottawa, obviously.

  3. You are an archaeologist of your town. Well done

    ALOHA from Honolulu

  4. The canal certainly one of Ottawa's most lovely features.

  5. is the canal still frozen over? Lovely shots.

  6. 'parliament hill lurks in the background'. :)

  7. That's quite a bit of history, more changes than I would have expected.

  8. @Tomas: as long as you ignore the politicians.

    @Linda: the fire of 1916 was definitely one that is big in our history. The only reason the library of Parliament survived was the bravery of a clerk and a really heavy door that held back the flames.

    @Cloudia: I guess so!

    @EG: it is a jewel.

    @Luis: thanks!

    @Marianne: thank you.

    @Gill: yes, and still open to skaters. I'd better get a couple of shots in, because one doesn't know at this point when that'll end.

    @Tex: yes, like a dark and ominous beastie!

    @Gnome: comparing and contrasting old photos and maps is enlightening.

  9. You've done a lot of research on this one. You can discover a lot of history from photos. I always feel that those of us in the west miss out on the government buildings and that history. I've visited the parliament buildings once. Many people here have never been to the parliament buildings.

  10. Great photos and very informative post, William.

  11. Along with these images today, you've provided us with loads of information.

  12. It is good to have pictures to show how things looked in days past. Thanks for all the interesting history.

  13. Ottawa looks like a great city.

    How close are you to those train derailments I've heard about?

  14. I really like the composition at the bottom!

  15. I love this kind of comparisons, along with all the info you provided. Great post!

  16. It's always interesting to pour over historic photos.

  17. I really like that last shot!

  18. Well it has changed quite a bit and I always find these before/now posts fascinating.

  19. Interesting pictures and history.

    Thank you.

  20. I always like to see old photos and hear about the history.

  21. The last one picture is very well done. Nice perspective.

  22. @Red: I think Canadians owe it to themselves to come see the capital at least once in their lives.

    @Linda: thanks!

    @Birdman: there was quite a lot in that one old pic.

    @Judy: what strikes me in that shot is the sheer amount of power lines.

    @Norma: that was up in northern Ontario, quite a long way from here.

    @Shelly: it's a welcome city!

    @Jose: I took two photos of that place last spring, and had previously posted the other one. It was the couple at the canal edge that drew my photographer's eye.

    @VP: thanks!

    @Kay: it is.

    @RedPat: thank you.

    @Ciel: it was a pleasure to show.

    @Jen: thank you.

    @Carolann: you're welcome.

    @Marleen: and there's a lot of it in this city.

    @Inna: thank you!

  23. Great shots and great architecture, but too big city for this country person.

  24. Fascinating stuff William, full marks for your research..

  25. i love the aspects of your shot .... getting the city layout ... very cool! ( :

  26. I love seeing then and now photos!


  27. It's so fab seeing old time against modern and searching out architecture that 's stood the test of time. Thanks William, enjoyed..

  28. I haven't been downtown in ages! Great post.

  29. I like the yesterday old photos and then try to match the today shots. Sometimes one can.

  30. @Mari: I love living here.

    @Geoff: thank you.

    @Beth: thanks!

    @Randy: thank you.

    @Janis: so do I.

    @Grace: you're welcome.

    @Jennifer: I live downtown, at present, anyway.

    @MB: I haven't done any of that in awhile.