Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The War Museum

I paid a visit to the Canadian War Museum on Remembrance Day. The Museum has been here at its location west of the downtown core since 2005 after outgrowing its previous location. It looks like a bunker or a massive plane, depending on angle and perspective, and is well suited to its collection.

Two particular spaces inside are critical from the design, and the Memorial Hall is one of them. It is an austere space containing one artifact: the headstone for the Unknown Soldier who lies now in his tomb at the War Memorial (his gravesite in France has another tombstone marking the location and the reason the body has been moved). The building is designed with this room as a focal point- on November 11th, at eleven in the morning, sun will shine through the overhead window and illuminate the headstone. As you can see, on Remembrance Day, the headstone attracts poppies.

There was an exhibition going on in the temporary exhibit hall about Vimy Ridge and the commemoration of war dead. It begins with a painting, William Longstaff's Ghosts Of Vimy Ridge, which depict ghosts rising up from the ridge below the Memorial at night.

This year has been the centennial year of the pivotal battle for Canadians during the First World War. The Memorial at the battle site, designed by Walter Allward, attracted a large crowd upon its opening, and is still a place for pilgrimage today.

Several of Allward's smaller scale sculptures were on display as part of this exhibition, moved over from their usual location in Regeneration Hall.

This caught my eye.

This is a model of the Memorial itself.

This is a calfskin robe done for a World War One corporal of the Kainai First Nation, Mike Mountain Horse. It depicts twelve deeds the Indigenous warrior carried out during the war.

This quilt was nearby.

I finish with two more of Allward's sculpture sets. 


  1. We can learn much from our museums. Good stuff in this post.

  2. Such a striking building. The calfskin robe is very unique and even in your photo you can see that it tells many stories.

  3. ...we need more peace memorials.

  4. I wonder what sculptors think about working on these somber pieces.


  5. That calfskin robe is an intriguing story teller.

  6. @Red: thank you.

    @Kay: I have seen the motif before, and I like that way of telling a story.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Tom: indeed.

    @Janis: his memorial was quite an accomplishment.

    @Jan: it certainly is.

    @Janey: thanks!

  7. Hello, I love the sculptures. Looks like a great museum, even though I am not a fan of war. Have a happy day!

  8. So many interesting things to see in this museum!

  9. Excellent post here and yesterday William. The painting 'The Ghosts of Vimey Ridge' is so incredibly poignant!

  10. With yesterday's post, a deep and thoughtful series that sings eloquently and simply. Thank You William

  11. What a great place to visit on Remembrance Day.

  12. That’s really moving.
    The poppy quilt is wonderful.

  13. There's so much to see and absorb here. WW1 was horrible in every respect. What a waste of human life and resources. And then we had to do it again. And again and again and again. We keep building memorials because we can't seem to get our fill of war. Love the Allwards' sculptures - dynamic and emotionally moving. I remember visiting the War Museum in Paris. Somewhat similar to this one but different also in important ways.

  14. @Eileen: it has always impressed me as a museum.

    @Lois: there is certainly no shortage of things to see.

    @Grace: it certainly is.

    @Cloudia: you're welcome.

    @Sharon: it definitely is.

    @Christine: I figured the quilt would draw attention.

    @Lowell: World War One was a catastrophe in so many ways.

  15. It is so good that the museum was open on Remembrance Day. Those Allward pieces are amazing!

  16. gorgeous pieces, very moving. impressive indeed. thanks for sharing. ( ;

  17. Te museum has lots of interesting items. I like the Allward pieces, very nice.

  18. @Marleen: they capture the sadness of the memorial.

    @Maywyn: definitely.

    @RedPat: it's a fine occasion to come visit.

    @Beth: you're welcome.

    @Revrunner: and every year, the fields of France and Belgium give up more bones of those who were not accounted for a century ago.

    @Bill: this is quite an impressive museum.

  19. Magnificent series of photos for remembrance of our war heroes ~

    Happy Week to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  20. That calfskin robe looks interesting.

  21. Quite an impressive and large building and I suppose it was meant to resemble a bunker in keeping with its collections.

  22. Very nice to see, glad that you shared this.

    All the best Jan

  23. @Carol: thank you!

    @Haddock: I certainly think so.

    @Mari: they are.

    @Lady Fi: thanks!

    @Beatrice: it was well designed.

    @Jan: thank you.

    @Klara: I agree.