Saturday, July 15, 2017

The War Museum

My first stop on Canada Day was at the Canadian War Museum, where it was raining when I arrived (fortunately the rain let up by the time I left). The Museum re-located its collection to this spot west of the city core in 2005. The architecture resembles a bunker, or a bomber plane, depending on your perspective, and tells the story of Canadian military history from the earliest times to the modern day, both here and on the global stage, while also regularly staging temporary exhibits.

There is a temporary exhibit inside, Vimy: Beyond The Battle, concentrating on the commemoration of war dead, running until after Remembrance Day. This painting, which I haven't seen in several years, has been in the museum's vaults for some time, and was the first thing to greet the visitor stepping inside. William Longstaff painted Ghosts Of Vimy Ridge in 1931, several years before the memorial to the First World War battle was complete. His work dramatically lights up the memorial at night, with ghosts rising up from the shattered landscape. This was a theme in several of his paintings.

These are temporary crosses placed at graves at Vimy after the battle. Later the War Graves Commission would establish proper grave markers.

Walter Allward designed and oversaw the work on the Vimy Ridge Memorial. At his studio, he had created numerous slightly larger than life plaster casts that would be featured on the Memorial in their full scale. Those sculptures, depicting allegorical figures, are part of the War Museum's collection, and usually can be found in Regeneration Hall. Some of them had been moved over here for the exhibit.

A photograph on a display showed the poppies at the Tower of London display from 2014. Some of those ceramic poppies were in the display case alongside it.

This formal portrait was hanging here too. Lt.-Colonel Thain MacDowell is a painting by British war artist Harold Knight, depicting a young Canadian captain who received the Victoria Cross (and a promotion) for his bravery and leadership during the Battle Of Vimy Ridge.

This was a different work of art by Sarah Hatton, depicting the constellations above Vimy Ridge on the night of April 12th, 1917. I've included its explanatory panel with it.

I have more from this exhibit tomorrow, but I'll leave off with a panel depicting the finished sculptures on the Memorial itself.


  1. I like those poppies. Life and color amidst so much death.

  2. War exhibit leaves us feeling sad. Great sculptures. Have a good weekend!

  3. I remember seeing that sea of poppies on television. Very impressive.

  4. ...let's start building peace memorials!

  5. Hlelo, wonderful tour and exhibit. I like the statues and the poppies. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend.

  6. @Kay: indeed.

    @Nancy: I find this museum to be a place of commemoration.

    @Marleen: whoever came up with that idea had the right touch.

    @Tom: indeed.

    @Eileen: it has been awhile since I last featured the museum.

    @Sussi: it certainly is.

  7. I love the poppies! Great series, William! We have a Holocaust Museum here in Montreal and I have been there. It is amazing!

  8. gorgeous sculptures. happy weekend!! ( ;

  9. This would be a place where it would take a lot of time to visit and take in all the significance of our military history.

  10. The Vimy Memorial is one of the most beautiful memorials I've ever seen William, would be incroyable to actually stand in front of it!

  11. My young Grandson has joined the Military. He now is training all over and is in N.B. He truly likes it .
    I call him a baby youngster. It sure has changed his life. He is so polite and walks so straight and quick. Polishes his own boots . And he is a Vegetarian eating now. Wow!
    Exercises for him to do push ups that is nothing. He climbs over walls and carries dead weight dummies .Drives a Tank. The list goes on. I said to him. You could die. He said then I have done it for my Country.

  12. @Linda: that's a museum I'd like to see. The Holocaust Memorial across from the Museum is looking like completion isn't that far off.

    @Beth: thank you!

    @Red: I've spent a great deal of time in here. This visit was more of a run through, but when you're local, you already know it so well. At the ghosts painting, I chatted with someone who'd grown up in Ottawa, but was now living in Ohio. She said she'd wanted to come up for this particular Canada Day.

    @Grace: it is a spectacular memorial. I would love to see it for myself some day.

    @Carolann: good for him.

  13. That first painting looks wonderful, William. Some powerful images in this post.

  14. Beautiful sculptures, very dramatic.

  15. I remember the poppies at the T owner of London...that was a powerful display.

  16. Interesting that someone thought to save those crosses.

  17. Those sculptures are very dramatic. Love the ceramic poppies.

  18. Dark, somber, and very creative.
    Great post William. Lots of interesting information also.

  19. I specially like those ceramic poppies, they are such great colorful symbols.

  20. @RedPat: I have missed seeing that painting. For a long while it was in Regeneration Hall.

    @Bill: they are indeed.

    @Janey: it certainly was.

    @Revrunner: definitely.

    @Mari: indeed.

    @Tamago: me too.

    @Pat: I do love coming to this museum.

    @Jan: they are indeed.

  21. I used to worry about Collin joining the military. He really wanted to. Now, he's told he's too old.

  22. Ceramic poppies looked amazing around the Tower. I do regret I wasn't in London those days:( when they were displayed.