Thursday, August 13, 2015

By The Celtic Cross

I am finishing my series on Colonel By Day with this ceremony. A Celtic cross was erected on the east side of the Rideau Canal several years ago. It commemorates the more than a thousand people- workers or family members- who died during the building of the Canal. Either by illness or work mishap, many of them died far from home, and were buried in unmarked graves, a large portion of them Irish. Each year on this holiday, a small ceremony takes place here. Along with a number of people, I crossed over from the exhibits on the west side of the Canal to watch. 


The fellow I showed you the other day checking his messages was serving as the Town Crier for this ceremony. Members of the 100th Regiment Of Foot formed an honour guard as part of the service (check out yesterday's post for a link I added to a previous photograph I took of them). There were several speakers: the mayor, who's the tall fellow in glasses and light blue shirt, the deputy chief at the Irish embassy, the president of the Ottawa Irish Society, the head of the Bytown Museum, and a leader in the labour movement. The ceremony also included a moment of silence and the singing of the Canadian and Irish national anthems by a local singer.


The cross stands out as a monument here. It includes inscriptions in English, French, Gaelic, and Algonquin. Of those who lived to see the Canal finished, many of them settled here instead of returning back across the sea. Their roots run deep in the Ottawa Valley.

44 comments:

  1. To die so far from home, this is sad.

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  2. Sounds like it was a moving event.

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  3. Among those who built our N. America for sure

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  4. That's pretty moving. How far we've come - thank heaven!

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  5. I didn't realize the canal was built in a large part by Irish workers. It's a handsome Celtic cross.

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  6. I have seen many of those crosses in Ireland last year. Building a canal was a hard work and in some countries workers are still dying in building those huge projects.

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  7. Town crier's job was made infinitely easier with a cell phone. :-)

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  8. Your post reminds me of the workers who have died building our Malayan railway track. Many have died and buried on site.

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  9. It's sad so many people died during building canal. The ceremony looks beautiful.

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  10. I'm fascinated with old Celtic crosses you can see in Scotland, some of them 1000 years old. But I didn't know there was one to commemorate all those deaths. Where is it exactly? Does the memorial have a name?

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  11. Sounds like a solemn event, a lot has happened in the past.

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  12. It's nice that people take the time to remember and appreciate the workers' contribution.
    Jane x

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  13. Sad stories behind this beautiful cross...
    ( I like the detail photo)

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  14. Such a sad story behind this memorial cross. It's nice that these workers are remembered and honoured every year.

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  15. Such a poignant story behind the Celtic cross William, so sad to think of the many many people who have died and are still dying far from home.

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  16. I did not realize this. Thanks for the info.

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  17. There's a lot of history connected to Col By. Unfortunately we hear very little of it in the west. You've informed us well.

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  18. one my favorite crosses. love the design. very similar to the cross i wore as an acolyte at church as a teen. ( :

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  19. @Whisk: it is, yes.

    @Halcyon: particularly the moment of silence and the anthems. The singer had a beautiful voice.

    @Cloudia: they quite literally hacked it out of the wilderness, with their family along the way.

    @Mike: indeed.

    @EG: the influx of Irish settlers here have had a big impact on the entire Ottawa Valley ever since.

    @Marianne: every account I've ever read of Canal building, even in the modern day, shows it to be an incredibly difficult job.

    @Revrunner: oh yes!

    @Nancy: it was the same here. I was speaking with someone after, and we agreed it was quite likely there might well have been bodies beneath our feet in unmarked graves.

    @Tamago: I think it's the right touch having a ceremony like this on this occasion.

    @Gnome: this area is nestled between Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier. The staircases down on the west side offer easy access. The full name for the cross is the Rideau Canal Celtic Cross.

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  20. @Blogoratti: indeed.

    @Jane and Chris: it certainly is.

    @Karl: I was pleased the detail shots worked out nicely.

    @Pamela: it certainly is.

    @Grace: it was a wonderful idea to erect this in their memory.

    @Birdman: you're quite welcome.

    @Red: he made a huge impact in this area, so his name does live on.

    @Beth: it is a very distinctive style as crosses go.

    @Sharon: thanks, I think so too!

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  21. A very interesting post and a spectacular cross!

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  22. Nice photos William. I love the Celtic cross!

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  23. I like they to be remembered.

    Tomás.

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  24. The Irish is such an ancient society and its influence has been worldwide. The cross is beautiful.

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  25. "Moving" doesn't begin to cover it....

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  26. So many people gave their lives to build the infrastructure of our country. Love that cross!

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  27. Beautiful details on the cross.

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  28. It's a lovely way to remember them and I like Celtic crosses much better than the other ones...

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  29. I love that first photo, the way the people and their bright clothing contrasts with the gray of the cross!

    Janis
    GDP

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  30. I love all the old costumes and that Celtic cross is beautiful!

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  31. I like Celtic crosses--very unique.
    I scrolled through all the posts that I have missed. Very nice indeed. You show such great images and tell wonderful stories full of information. Thanks.
    MB

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  32. The carving on the cross is beautiful..

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  33. @VP: thanks!

    @Eve: thank you!

    @Tomas: it is good to remember them.

    @Tex: thank you! Whoever came up with the cross did wonderful work.

    @Cheryl: it certainly is.

    @Linda: indeed.

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  34. @Norma: no, but it'll have to do.

    @RedPat: it's a great addition to the city.

    @Marleen: I certainly think so.

    @Ciel: Celtic crosses have a lot of character.

    @Janis: thanks!

    @Denise: the period clothing really stands out.

    @MB: thank you!

    @Geoff: the artist did well with that.

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  35. You realize, of course, that the liberals here would be suing to take the cross down. It is offensive to them.

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  36. That is a very sensitive ceremony. I wish more cities and countries recognized the unintentional sacrifices of working people.

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  37. The town crier acquits himself with rather regal bearing here.
    Immigrants were the backbone of building the U.S., too, in particular the transcontinental railroad.
    Celtic crosses are beautiful. Graveyards in Ireland can be quite lovely.

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  38. Your town criers dress different to ours from the look of things

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