Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Visiting Canada History Hall In The Museum

I am returning today for the last segment of my Canada Day weekend posts, with a return to the Museum of History. The permanent exhibits have had a big overhaul in the last few years, and Canada History Hall is the result. Done in consultation with the museum's architect Douglas Cardinal, the project presents Canadian history from time immemorial to the present day in three distinct galleries. You can see Cardinal's influence in the circular use of the space. It was exceptionally busy that weekend, what with the Prince of Wales officially opening it on Canada Day, and so I chose to come back the following day.

The corridor leading to the entrance is lined with landmarks or activities of Canada, done in a combination of mirrors overlaid with a lighter paint to create each image. This is the Chateau Frontenac, in Quebec City. There are many others.

The three galleries all branch off from a central hub, with a large physical map of Canada laid out on the floor. Rather than cities and roads, the landscape and waters are emphasized here. Hudson Bay is most obvious here, but Lakes Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Nipigon also feature prominently in this view, as does the lakeshore edge of Lake Superior at the lower right.

Going into the first of the galleries, which starts with the First Nations and ends with the transition out of New France, the visitor is met by a large view screen, where the Anishinabe creation story is depicted on screen. Speakers broadcast the tale being told in that First Nations language, while French and English subtitles are seen on the lower part of the screen.

The skull of a bison can be found close by. There is also a model of a buffalo jump set up by it- tribes in the West, even before the time of horses, would corral bison into a stampede towards a cliff as part of their hunt.

The museum's new direction interweaves the story of First Nations people in with the coming of Europeans and throughout Canadian history; before, the story of First Nations peoples seemed to be kept separate to the other parts of the museum. In addition, some of the artifacts here have been replicated from their original versions, which are returned to the people they've come from. It's a shift in priorities from how things used to be, instead working with First Nations peoples.

Within a case around a good sized display are reproductions of artifacts found on a man who lived eight hundred years ago in northern Baffin Island. The museum collaborated with the community around Arctic Bay, near where this man's remains were found, to reconstruct what he looked like and get a sense of his life. Some of his tools were carved with details about his life. After study of the skeleton and the tools had been completed, the man was re-interred with his artifacts in keeping with the traditions of the locals, while the reproductions of his tools and a full sized replica of him stand in the museum.

Here he is. It is thought that he was a man of around forty at the time of his death, a skilled hunter and kayaker whose tools included knives, a bow string tensioner, an ice pick, and a throwing weapon. He has been given a name- Nuvumiutaq. It is based on the place where he was found.


  1. So much to learn from the exhibition. Have a fantastic day!

  2. It looks like there have been great improvements. I'd especially love to see that map.

  3. ...William, this looks like a fun museum to visit.

  4. I love that physical map of Canada. I feel like I could actually learn the geography of Canada if I hung out there.


  5. Hello looks like an interesting exhibit and museum. Enjoy your day!

  6. What an amazing exhibit, William!

  7. What a wonderful way of portraying history!

  8. I'm sure that people should go back again and again to see and understand this exhibit as you go back many times.

  9. It looks like a good place to learn things.

  10. Canada has so much to appreciate!

  11. Wow, great exhibitions! It looks such a fun museum to visit!

  12. If I ever make it to Ottawa William this is a definite on my list, but it's more than likely I won't so I'm very happy to see it here ☺ The estimation of the man's age at 40 ish is so young, do they have any idea why he died I wonder?

  13. Thanks for sharing this wonderful museum & displays. I find the details about the man who lived 800 years ago very interesting. Great replica!

  14. Interesting post. Thank you for sharing.

  15. @Nancy: I found the work was well done.

    @Kay: it's quite a difference from what it was before.

    @Tom: it certainly is.

    @Beth: I liked the new direction.

    @Janis: I found it a pleasing way to meet the new galleries.

    @Eileen: I was pleased by the new direction. At the time when it was began, we had a different federal government, and I was worried the museum's mandate was being shifted into a very narrow, dogmatic worldview by a very petty former PM, but that's not the case.

    @Linda: it certainly is.

    @RedPat: it is.

    @Red: I will definitely enjoy coming back here repeatedly.

    @Sharon: it is!

    @Cloudia: definitely!

    @Tamago: that it is.

    @Grace: it's a pleasure to show the place. I can't recall any detail about cause of death, but the age of forty at that period in time would have been considered older, especially in that environment.

    @Christine: I wonder what he would think of how much the world has changed.

    @Klara: you're welcome.

    @Halcyon: definitely!

  16. That building reminds me of the Starship Enterprise. :-)

  17. An amazing exhibit, William.

  18. What a stunning place to visit, I'm sure it was worth it. The photos are wonderful, nice of you to share!

  19. Perfect ending to the Native American section.

  20. What a great place, beautifully documented. Thank you William :)

  21. It seems to be a great museum where all facets of the Canadian history are shown in a wonderful way.

  22. Looks a very good exhibition William, thank you for sharing your photographs.

    All the best Jan

  23. i think the exhibition of the First Nations people would really grab my interest.

  24. What an amazing place! I would LOVE to spend some time there.
    Thanks for the great photos and interesting info!

  25. Those are bison going over the cliff?

  26. Such a difficult time in our history.

  27. @Revrunner: I can see that.

    @Bill: that it is.

    @Blogoratti: thanks!

    @Mari: I thought so.

    @Denise: you're welcome.

  28. @Jan: that it is.

    @Jan: you're welcome.

    @Kate: it does with me.

    @Pat: you're welcome.

    @Norma: that's the idea.

    @Jennifer: true.