On Remembrance Day I paid a visit to the Canadian War Museum, and so today I'm beginning a series. The current museum replaced the previous museum in 2005, as the collection had vastly outgrown its quarters. It's stark and rather like a bunker, but designed in a way that fits its subject. The museum tells the story of warfare through the prism of the Canadian experience, both on Canadian soil and as part of world history.
One of the first stops one can make in the Museum is one of its focal points, Memorial Hall, off the main lobby. This is one of two critical architectural elements in the building, a stark and contemplative space with a single artifact and a reflecting pool. This passageway, looking back, leads to the Hall.
The walls in here mimic tombstones, and in fact, the one artifact in Memorial Hall is the gravestone brought back from the fields of Europe, belonging to the Unknown Soldier now buried at the War Memorial.
The room- and the entire museum- is based on this focal point. The architect designed a window high on the wall opposite and positioned the entire museum in such a way that precisely at eleven in the morning on November the 11th each year, the sun will shine directly on the stone. The sheer amount of math involved in figuring that out baffles me.
One certainly feels the silence in here. On Remembrance Day, many people leave their poppies on the stone. Like the War Memorial, this room has a hallowed sense to it.
The permanent exhibits are laid out in chronological order, starting from pre-contact history of the First Nations to the present day. This is a model of a First Nations village set out in the first portion of the exhibit space.
While this is a layout of the Plains of Abraham, a battle in what many know as the Seven Years War. In North America we call it the French and Indian War, and it was here on the fields outside the walls of old Quebec City that the British defeated the French. The lines of battle are set out in the model, and the display explains in detail how the battle progressed. Quebec City looks vastly different today.