Friday, August 12, 2016

A Day For The Colonel

The Civic Holiday is the first Monday in August through most of Canada, known by various names from place to place. Here in Ottawa it's Colonel By Day, named for the British military engineer who designed and oversaw the building of the two hundred kilometre Rideau Canal system and founder of the city. The Colonel's statue is placed in Major's Hill Park, looking down towards the Canal and the Bytown Museum, nestled between here and Parliament Hill. Colonel By is widely respected here these days, but he ended his days in Britain having had fallen from grace, as a recent news article pointed out. The Canal project went over budget, and officials in Britain chastised him for that. In fact, the original budget had been far less than the job required, and Colonel By's careful work has resulted in a system that remains in place today in much the same form as it is today. In hindsight, the man should have been knighted for his work, instead of dying feeling he'd been cast out.

I came down to the Ottawa Locks to take in some of the activities going on around the Museum. One of the eight locks here where the Canal meets the Ottawa River was occupied by boats heading up into the Canal. The Chateau Laurier is on the other side.

I give you a gratuitous beaver shot.

This was fun as I made my way down the path- this person wearing a dinosaur costume was walking around. You could see their legs, but the whole look of the costume certainly brought out smiles in onlookers.

Here are members of the 100th Regiment of Foot, a re-enactor group based here in the Ottawa area that I've featured before. They were present through the day, doing shooting demonstrations at times on the east side of the Canal.

Also on the east side is a panel beside the Celtic Cross. The memorial was placed here in memory of over 1000 people who died during the building of the Canal from 1826-1832. Many of the six thousand builders were Irish; their legacy remains in the Canal itself, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


  1. We're getting history and is very nice to receive daily.


  2. Very nice, William! And the beaver made me smile. Love the reflections in that one, too! :)

  3. Wonderful photos William! People were enjoying seeing that dinosaur, the look on the little kid's face is priceless.

  4. What a fun day! Love the beaver. :D

  5. The canal area seems like such an interesting space. I'm with Halcyon, Love the beaver.

    Happy Colonel By Day.


  6. Very interesting information about Colonel By Day. Thanks for sharing this momment of this day.

  7. Great photos. Lovely clear sky and love the boats and beaver. Fun and eventful day!

  8. That looks like a great area William, I like the beaver...really cool...

  9. gorgeous gardens. folks around there do not pick around well taken care of. now we can not over look but that is one huge beaver. giggles!! sorry i had to say it. ok, the kid's gone. NOT! ha. ha!!! ( ;

  10. The colonel has certainly been vindicated even if the bureaucrats didn't think his work was of much worth! Love those boats. Lots of money represented there. "Beaver shot"? You are too funny!

  11. a beaver and a dinosaur in one post! ha!

  12. @Tomas: thanks!

    @Linda: I just wonder where the beaver gets stored.

    @Bill: the dinosaur could even growl.

    @Halcyon: it was quite a fun day.

    @Janis: it is an incredible achievement.

    @MDP: you're welcome.

    @Nancy: the Canal sees a lot of traffic.

    @Geoff: thanks!

    @Beth: I couldn't resist.

    @Lowell: history has judged him well.

    @Tex: they are quite a pair.

  13. Great post and I enjoyed my history lesson. Colonel By was an unsung hero but I am happy they finally recognized his worth. The Celtic Cross is a beautiful memorial. Enjoyed all your photos William, thank you.

  14. Wonderful to see boats in the Ottawa Locks again. The Canal and the locks have indeed been great works that are still very important.

  15. Another history lesson, William, thank you !

  16. I confess--I love the beaver and the dinosaur!

  17. All those boats in the canal remind me of when I was in Chicago and I'd see all the boast going out to the lake along the river in the spring and then they would all come back in the fall. It was always quite a parade.

  18. I remember watching the Rideau canal and boats moving through the locks. It was pretty fascinating for a prairie boy,

  19. @Denise: he'd be proud of the UNESCO Heritage designation, and that his work is still in good use.

    @Jan: the irony is that the purpose it was originally built for- as a military transportation route- wasn't needed after the fact. It's made for a wonderful recreation route though.

    @Karl: you're welcome.

    @Norma: they're both adorable.

    @Sharon: I enjoy watching boats in the Canal. Some come from a very long way off.

    @Red: it's still fascinating for me after years spent living here.

  20. Very interesting post! And the giant beaver made me smile :-)

  21. Always so much going on in your neck of the woods. I've never heard of Col By, but he sounds like a good egg. Impressed with the size of your beaver.

  22. @Revrunner: generally one might see four to seven boats in a lock, depending on their size.

    @Tamago: thanks!

    @Mike: it's a big one!

    @Marleen: yes, but the whole process seems to go smoothly if you watch the lock crews.

    @RedPat: it certainly is.

  23. Lovely happening, people looks so happy.
    I love all those blue ships. and beaver and dinosaurs are wonderful.

  24. Terrific photos of terrific subjects.

  25. What a sad story of Colonel By.
    The Irish and Chinese built the continental railway in the U.S. Precious little is said about that...

  26. Love the work re-enactor put in to their uniforms

    1. I have found out were Colonel John By died so may well go to the village sometime & see if he is buried in the churchyard

  27. @Orvokki: thanks!

    @Mari: thank you.

    @Whisk: it is peculiar.

    @Kay: quite true. Often those who do the real work are forgotten.

    @Bill: now that I would like to see.

  28. The huge boats going through the docks. Hubby and I used to watch them at Bobgagen, Ontario. Interesting to see how the other half live.

  29. It is quite the story. Have you been to the graveyard at Chaffeys Lock? So terribly sad.