Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Winter Chill Upon The Ottawa River

You might remember back in early December I did a post from the Portage Bridge, looking downstream over the Ottawa River in a series of pics documenting the view over time. I decided to do so again, with the bulk of these views looking downstream again over the course of the winter. And I'll be doing the same from here again for the CDP theme day on Change coming up in October- perhaps a good idea for those of you considering options for that theme. 

This view was taken in early December 2017. The familiar sights of Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court were illuminated in the sun.

A few days later, after some snow and colder temperatures, this was the view. As you can see in the background, the river was starting to ice up. A portion of the river here does tend to stay open through winter regardless, thanks to the fast flow coming off the Chaudiere Falls just upstream.

I crossed the road here to photograph west towards the falls that day. The Chaudiere Bridge is seen here at the heart of the shot. A careful eye might pick up the mist behind it; that is the spray off the waterfalls. The new viewing platform is wisely closed off over the winter; the amount of mist coming off the falls would freeze that up considerably and make walking on it treacherous.

This one I took on the first Sunday in January.

Here it was in late January.

And here we have a view in mid-February.

Here we see it as it was on the 11th of March. The ice was slowly wearing away downstream.

I finish with these views one week later.

This sign is found close to the Gatineau shoreline.

And close to that shoreline in the open water I heard the sound of Canada geese honking. Some of them were swimming about in the current, the first time I've seen any since last fall. Odds are these ones were just taking a break before continuing to fly for points further north.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Twilight Hour In A Time Of Winter

It's Good Friday today, and I will be scarce. I'm planning on heading over to the Agriculture museum today. 

For those of you in Ontario or visiting perhaps in the coming months, the Doors Open Ontario listings are up for this year's edition. Ottawa as always has the first weekend in June.

Today I have a series of end of the day shots taken in various spots. This was the last light of day on a mid-January day. I looked west from the Bank Street Bridge over the Rideau Canal.

A few days later, this was the view of the last light of day from the bridge. We'd had something of a warm-up, so the Canal was closed to skaters on that particular day.

I took this late one afternoon in Nepean in February, when the sun was headed for the horizon over Baseline Road.

And these were also taken in February. I went up onto Parliament Hill to get sunset shots. First I noticed the glow of the last light of day on the National Gallery and Major's Hill Park.

Then I photographed north, towards the Alexandra Bridge and Gatineau.

The path led to the summer pavilion, a structure behind Centre Block that is ideal for sunsets over the Ottawa River. The river remains open down there through the winter, churned up by the flow of the Chaudiere Falls upstream. I have been up here since, and the open water has been expanding.

And I finish with this shot from the Bank Street Bridge again, looking west on a late February day. The Canal had, by that time, been closed up for the season.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Rideau Falls In Winter Conditions

I finish this tour from the New Edinburgh area with a look at the Rideau Falls in winter. New Edinburgh starts at the east bank of the Rideau River, so here on the viewing platform, I was standing at its edge. The falls had over the course of the winter largely frozen over here in the east branch. One  portion of it was open, and water was pouring down into the Ottawa River below, gradually starting to create a plunge pool in the ice at the base, carrying floes of ice from the work being done to break up the ice just upstream from here. The buildings you can see in the background include the Diefenbaker and Pearson Buildings south of Sussex, as well as the National Research Council building on the north side of the street. The Pearson and NRC buildings are on the west shore of the Rideau River. Green Island itself is home to several military monuments on its north end.

The falls looked rather magical all iced up like this.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Breaking Up Ice On The River

When I went out to New Edinburgh in February, my first shots of the day were those that follow today and tomorrow. This is the east channel of the Rideau River, looking south, just upstream from the Rideau Falls. I was on Sussex Drive where it crossed the river. Over to the left is New Edinburgh. To the right is Green Island. The river meets its end here, breaking up into two channels around Green Island and spilling into the Ottawa River. On the south side of Sussex Drive, the island is occupied by the John Diefenbaker Building. Along with the Lester Pearson Building over on the west side of the river, the two buildings, named after former prime ministers, house the headquarters of our foreign ministry.

You might notice in this shot that there are people on the ice at the end of this open channel by those bridges. There's a good reason for that.

Crossing the street, I took in this view of the end of the river. Both branches of the falls have dams and walkways behind them, and maintenance work was being done on both of the walkways, so they were closed. Ice floes were headed towards the open portion of the spillway here on the east branch, headed for the Ottawa River, still frozen in the background.

There is a viewing platform on the east side of the falls, which I'll show tomorrow. Here we have a view of the frozen Ottawa River, with Gatineau over on the other side.

The far shore as seen here gives us Leamy Lake Park, the woodland park I went through last summer. The Gatineau River comes through several channels in that park, meeting the Ottawa River, so this area serves as the meeting place of three major rivers. For thousands of years pre-contact, this area was well known and well used by First Nations peoples. Samuel de Champlain came up the Ottawa River for the first time in 1613. The Rideau, falls and river, is from a French word- it means curtain- an apt term for what Champlain and his expedition would have seen from the base of the falls.

Looking back to the west, at the left of this shot, open water can be seen on the left, at the base of the falls.

I mentioned that there was a good reason there were people on the ice in the first shot. When I arrived around Green Island, there was a notice on the sidewalk about blasting ahead, and I could hear muffled bangs, so I knew what was going on. I went down to the bridge you can see in that first shot and took these. The ice on the Rideau River is blasted each year, starting in the second half of February. This is a preventative measure to alleviate flooding along its length, and given that this is where the river ends, that weekend had probably been when they were getting started on it. In this shot looking southwest from one of those bridges in the first shot, you can see vehicles and cut lines in the ice closer to the bridge. Crews were working on cutting sections, and their work included detonating the ice. Parliament Hill's spires can be seen in the background.

This view on the other side of the bridge includes two crew members on the ice near the open water. Others were closer to the bridge. I should have photographed that, but didn't- I noticed the ice was moving beneath their feet as they moved from slab to slab. Would that be something you'd be inclined to want to do?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Strolling Through The Hall

Staying with Rideau Hall, this look outside is from the room I left off with yesterday. This space is beyond the public areas.

The next room in the tour took us into what comprises the original manor. At the heart of the room is a model of Rideau Hall as it exists today.

Guides show how much the building has changed by removing segments that have been added on over time. The guide had her hand on the section we were standing in- Thomas McKay's original manor. He and his family lived in this space (though obviously there would have been walls separating the family back then). It has been radically expanded over time. When the guide is finished, each section goes back in place so that the next guide can do this demonstration for their group.

The last major room in the tour is the most dramatic. The Ballroom is used for formal occasions like state dinners, the greeting of ambassadors, and the swearing in of new cabinet ministers. It is dominated by a portrait of Queen Elizabeth. At present, paintings by First Nations artists are on the wall near the visitor, part of the art collection in the building.

This is something I had not seen before, but was aware of it. Rideau Hall has a skating rink over the winter, and each weekend, members of the public can come to skate. Several skaters were on the ice that afternoon. Some of the buildings you see beyond it are in the part of the property beyond public access. That would include Rideau Cottage, currently the residence of the Prime Minister and his family. It might be called a cottage, but realistically speaking it's a mansion.

I started to take my leave, first photographing the front fa├žade of the manor.

On my way out I passed by this tree. Many of the trees on the property were planted by visiting dignitaries, a tradition going back more than a century. This would be one of them, but its identification plaque was beneath the snowpack when I was here.

Heading back down the driveway, I took another shot of the manor at a distance.

Near the end of the driveway, an inukshuk (alternatively spelled inuksuk) is off to the side. Beyond it in the background is the frozen Ottawa River, visible this time of year.

Monday, March 26, 2018

A Visit To Rideau Hall

The purpose of my trip out to New Edinburgh on Family Day in February was to visit Rideau Hall's grounds in winter conditions. The Hall is the official residence of Canada's Governor General. It is largely a ceremonial role, assuming the duties of the monarch, in a job that typically lasts five to seven years. Its traditions go back to the governors of New France, and after the end of the French and Indian War, British Governor Generals filled the role for decades. Since Vincent Massey, the job has then been held by a Canadian. The property occupies nearly eighty acres, and much of that is open to the public to come visit.

The rose garden of course is dormant through the winter.

There were other visitors on the paths that day.

The manor itself is just visible through the trees here, something that's not particularly possible when everything is leafed out.

And here we have a view of it upon approaching. The flag of the governor general was flying, so she was in residence. The job takes her across the country regularly, as well as other places around the world.

Tours of the manor vary through the year. During the high season of summer, it's best to come here in the afternoon and perhaps take a tour around two in the afternoon- the busy season requires no photography during tours, but if you're touring at that time of day, the building opens up to a walk through around three PM that allows the photographer to come back through. Fall is a transition time for tours, with less of them, so you can photograph during a tour. And over the winter, reservations are required- they do tours when they have enough people. Family Day was an exception- the Hall had regular tours that you could come join, in English and in French. As I was here anyway, I decided to join a tour, and took the French version, since there was just myself, the guide, and a couple. My spoken French is rusty, but I understand it quite well.

The route of the tour goes through a security checkpoint first, and then comes into the main entrance lobby that you can see in the above shot. This hall is filled with portraits of previous Canadian governor generals from Vincent Massey on. The last one, David Johnston, who retired last fall, has not yet had his portrait done.

We moved off next to the Tent Room. This is dominated by a portrait of Queen Victoria at the far end. British Governor Generals are found in portraits around the room. This was added onto the manor after the Canadian government acquired the property in 1867 to house the governor general. The room was used as a recreational space for tennis, and doubled as a reception area, as British nobles were used to giving garden parties, but couldn't actually do so in an Ottawa winter. These days it is reception space.

This sitting area is off the Tent Room. The piano at the far end was willed to the country by the late Glenn Gould.