Picking up where we left off yesterday, the assassination of Thomas D'Arcy McGee is examined at this part of the Bytown Museum. McGee, a journalist, writer, politician, and Father of Confederation, was a close friend of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, and a fierce critic of Irish nationalism, a cause he had once been loyal to. The bust you see here is of Lady Agnes Macdonald, the PM's wife. She was as shocked as anyone else by the assassination.
He was shot in the back of the head while coming home from Parliament Hill to his boarding house late at night. Patrick James Whelan, a sympathizer to the Irish cause, was convicted and hung for the assassination, though there is cause to doubt his guilt. A plaster cast was made of McGee's hand. It rests here along with one of his books. Photographs mounted on the wall above show the scene of the crime and the streets of Montreal for the funeral of McGee, whose riding was based in that city. It is the only assassination of a federal politician in Canadian history.
The South African War, otherwise called the Boer War, bridged the 19th and 20th centuries and had an impact in the Ottawa Valley. This composite image was done by the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, showing 193 local men who volunteered and served in the Royal Canadian Regiment, one of the Canadian units serving during that war. Twelve of those men died in action.
Several artifacts of that war are displayed close by- a canteen, helmet, pocket watch, medal, and bible, for instance. The bible itself saved the life of Private John Denmark, stopping a bullet fired on him during a fierce fight at a place called Hart's River.
The 1916 fire that destroyed the first Centre Block on Parliament Hill is also featured, with some artifacts taken from the wreckage of the fire, and a large scale photograph of the aftermath mounted on the wall. The First World War was of course going on at the time, and there were rumours that it was German sabotage. There are still unanswered questions about the fire and its cause to this day, though odds are that it can be chalked up to a cigar carelessly left about. The ruins of the original Centre Block were deemed unsafe, and the structure was completely rebuilt.
Outside the Museum, I stopped at the Celtic Cross on the east shore of the locks. It commemorates over a thousand men (and assorted family members) who died during the building of the Canal. Some of them died in workplace accidents, others of illnesses. Celtic symbols and other icons are engraved on it, with inscriptions in English, French, Gaelic, and a First Nations language.
Parks Canada had some display tables set up, and were offering bannock bread, a First Nations staple. The dough is wrapped around a stick and cooked over a fire.
Parks Canada was also giving out temporary tattoos. This is the one I chose to wear- a maple leaf and canoe oars.
I leave off with these two views from the Canal. A giant inflatable beaver is always present for Colonel By Day, courtesy of Parks Canada. It's placed on the Chateau Laurier's side of the locks. Tomorrow we start looking at Buskerfest.