Sunday, September 30, 2018

Evening Light And Welcome Walkens

I have some odds and ends today. During Buskerfest one evening, I ventured out past Sparks Street to the grounds of the War Memorial and took this shot of the Chateau Laurier at night, from the southwest. Plaza Bridge and the sculpture set known as The Valiants are between myself and the hotel.

Taken a few metres away, this is a view of the National Arts Centre, with its glass tower lit up with imagery of upcoming programming.

August also sees fireworks in Ottawa over a two week period on several different nights, an international event featuring fireworks crews from various countries. I came to the grounds of the Supreme Court and photographed the display from there. It made for an interesting contrast with the Art Deco architecture of the building.

I photographed this ad near Sparks Street during Buskerfest. It's one of several variations on the same theme for this radio station in town. Which I don't listen to. I haven't listened to radio at all for years. Why? Too many ads, and way too much yak yak yak bloody hell would you people shut up yak yak. I am not a morning person, and while I freely admit these four might be entirely pleasant in person, I don't feel like starting my day with the standard morning radio script- the bantering male and female DJs, the sports jock, and the weather and traffic girl, each of whom talks in an incessantly cheerful way that makes me just want to throttle them.

Did I mention I'm not a morning person?

Another shot from the time of our Buskerfest. Hammocks were set up on Sparks Street. Here's my point of view looking down my long legs. Yes, that hammock was exceedingly comfortable, and it had been years since I'd been in one.

This was the view looking straight up. The building is the C.D. Howe Building, a government complex. I've been up on the roof once during Doors Open; there's a rooftop garden that's usually only accessible to employees in the building.

Here's much the same view the following day.

This sign is at the entrance to a barbershop in the Byward Market.

Nearby, the York Steps, leading up from the Market to Major's Hill Park, have been painted this year with a salmon design. Kwashkwan-in! is the title, and it means jump in Algonquin as rendered by the artist Naomi Ratte of the Peguis First Nation. Six salmon are making their way up a waterfall, part of their life cycle.

Sunflowers are at their height here in August and early September. These are in the flowerbeds outside the Sunnyside branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

Here we have an evening view taken at the Canadian War Museum, showing Lebreton Gallery lit up within. The Canadian fighter jet that's at the heart of this display area is visible through the windows.

And I close out with what has to surely be the ugliest car in Ottawa. I've seen this one in motion many times (it's even more hideous at night when half the crap on this thing is lit up), but haven't photographed it before. One weekend day earlier this month I finally came across it parked in the Byward Market.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

It Was A Foggy Day In Ottawa Town

I take the title for this post by adapting this old standard, which seems appropriate.

Earlier in the month, I left home early and noticed mist off in the distance. I decided to head up to the nearby Ottawa River. When we see fog here, it's often over the rivers or the Rideau Canal, while the sky above might be blue. This view looked west along Queen Street as I was on my way.

I came up to the grounds around the Supreme Court. The fog was thick, as you can see in this view looking east. The buildings are the Justice and Confederation Blocks of Parliament, which neighbour the Court as part of the Parliamentary precinct. The West Block is barely visible in the mist.

Behind the Court, there is an overlook on the Ottawa River. These views take in the Ottawa shore. The river is barely noticeable.

I photographed across at the Gatineau shore. The island down below is in mid stream, so the provincial boundary would be down there. In high water conditions of spring, the island is often underwater. This time of year it's home to hardy shrubs that manage to survive the deluge.

Looking west gave a bit of a hint of blue.

But looking east, just more of that thick fog. It didn't last, mind you- had you been standing here an hour later it would have been gone.

I started to take my leave. This view features the Court and the Confederation and Justice Blocks beyond.

Coming around the front of the Court, I paused to photograph some more. Two statues flank the staircases up to the entrance, done by Walter Allward, the sculptor who designed the Vimy Ridge Memorial. Truth (Veritas) and Justice (Ivstitia) are their titles. This one is the latter, on the east side, a cloaked and hooded figure looming over the visitor.

This perspective of Justice will be familiar to any Canadian news viewer, as it is typical when an item about a Court decision is on the news for this angle to be filmed. On this morning, the fog was enough to hide everything beyond the West Block. Otherwise you'd see the Peace Tower and Centre Block from these steps.

Out on the front lawn, I wished a good morning to two Canada geese.

And I finished with this view of the Court, an Art Deco jewel, standing out well against the mist.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Flowerbeds In The Late Summer

Earlier in the month I made my way to Dow's Lake late in the afternoon on a Saturday. I wanted to photograph the flowerbeds around Commissioners Park to show the kind of growth that is put in after the Tulip Festival comes to an end. The flowerbeds are planted with things that grow well in summer heat. Sometime next month these will be removed for the replanting of bulbs.

This view takes in the raised circular bed at the heart of the park. The lake itself can be glimpsed in the background.

I headed over to the lake, passing by a flock of Canada geese, busy munching away at the grass.

Here we have a view of the lake, which is part of the Rideau Canal, serving as a reservoir area for the waterway, which passes by at its south end. Across the water on the west side is the Arboretum, part of the Experimental Farm.

I then carried on past more flowerbeds, which when you last saw them were filled with tulips.

At a distance in this shot, a wedding party was having photos done in the park.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Tornado And No Flying Cow

That title is a reference to this scene from Twister.

Last Friday we had a rarity in terms of weather. Late in the afternoon, a tornado swept through the area, doing its worst damage in the rural community of Dunrobin west of the urban core, and across the river in Gatineau. It was one of three tornadoes to touch down in the Capital area within a short space of time, of a total of six that touched down from the same system. I came home early that evening, getting in shortly before the rain started. The power went out around six PM, and the rain intensified, along with high wind. I had no idea there had been a tornado, but stayed inside while the rain was falling. When it had cleared off, the power was still out. I decided to go for a walk. It turned out that the electricity was out for a substantial part of the cities on both sides of the river- with a full outage starting two blocks of my place with everything west of that (power came back on at home just over twenty four hours later) and hit and run spots where buildings were out east and south of there. I would see low lighting in office lobbies where security guards were posted, knowing that those lobbies were usually more brightly lit, so the back up generators gave those buildings some light, but not a lot. In apartment buildings, I noticed candle lights at windows in the darkness; back up generators might light up corridors, but not individual apartments. You quickly forget living in the city how dark the night really gets. At least until you lose power.

That evening, I headed out after the storm had passed to kill some time. I passed over the Mackenzie King Bridge, heading to the Rideau Centre mall, which was lit up. I paused over the Rideau Canal to photograph the twilight view. The clouds were clearing off.

I crossed to the other side of the bridge to photograph the opposite view. The sun might have been down, but the top of the cloud deck was still lit up. This is one of the receding edges of the storm- the big tornado had spent its energy over on the Gatineau side of the river before breaking up. I spent time at the mall, headed back home to darkness, and had absolutely no idea there had been a tornado until the following day when I had a bit of time online and found Facebook messages: 'are you okay?' I'd thought it had just been a particularly intense storm.

The Ottawa Citizen has its printing presses out in the west end, and power went out there as well. The paper delivered later than usual on Saturday, hitting stores in the afternoon, but the storm coverage in that paper dominated the first three pages, and has continued to do so in the days since.

This page was from the Sunday edition of the Toronto Star.

I went for a walk early Sunday morning along Bank Street, before dawn. The caution tape you see here had been there on Friday- there had been signs of some minor work being done on an adjoining building, and the tape had set up a perimeter to keep pedestrians out. The winds of the storm had ended up shredding the tape and wrapping it around the poles here.

Along Bank Street, the aftermath of the storm had a hit and run effect. Some businesses lost power, others did not. Massine's is a grocery store along this stretch that did lose power, and when I photographed this, around five thirty in the morning, it was an hour and a half away from opening. A clerk can be seen behind the sign. Power had come back on in the store the previous evening, but work had to be done. Employees were inside on clean up duty- things like eggs and dairy, for instance, can't be sold to the public if the power goes out in the way that it did.

Down the street, this sign was in a restaurant window. Those shops and restaurants that had not lost power had been quite well visited on Saturday. Chatting with one of the vendors at the main farmers market on Sunday morning, I learned that they had attended another market in the Westboro area, which had been completely knocked out in terms of power. They sold their complete stock of baked goods on the Saturday at that market and had to bake more for the Sunday market at Lansdowne- a testament to just how many people were out of power.

Here I have views from an intersection not far from my home on Sunday morning. A tree had come down in the storm on Friday. Crews had been by to open up the intersection, leaving piles of branches and trunks of the fallen tree on either side of the intersection. Follow up crews would show up in the days afterwards to clear up the debris; the priority was getting spots like this open.

Obviously this stop sign at the scene will have to be replaced. It was quite an experience- the first tornado I've been through (even if I hadn't known it was a tornado until afterwards). At the height of the power outage, hundreds of thousands of people were without power in Ottawa and Gatineau. No one was killed locally, but there were many injuries, and homes were damaged or destroyed. A tornado on the last day of summer? That's a hell of a way to end a season, and one that we'll remember for years to come.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

One Hundred Days Of War

I have switched out my header image for something more fitting for autumn. And have a look at my writer's blog today for a photo post I have set up there about this past weekend's Army Run event.

Picking up where I left off yesterday with these panels on the Hundred Days that ended the First World War, this panel notes that during the height of that period, Canadians fired 847 990 artillery shells in a span of eight days. Women back home were doing the work men had done before, including in arms factories, and the war experience for them would lead to a stronger suffrage movement and push for a greater say in society.

The 22nd Batallion, also called the Van Doos, were a French speaking unit. Their officers included Georges Vanier, who decades later would be the first Francophone Governor General of the country. Here they are seen crossing the Rhine into Bonn, Germany, to occupy the city.

This photograph of two soldiers was taken during the Hundred Days. The fellow giving himself a shave was a Japanese-Canadian soldier. At the time, marginalized groups hoped that war service would help them increase their standing in society.

First Nations men were also part of those marginalized groups, and yet they served in the war. This photograph, taken years after the war, shows Sergeant Major Binaaswi Francis Pegahmagabow, an enlisted soldier of the Anishinaabe people. He was decorated for bravery on three occasions during the war, the last of those being during the Hundred Days. Returning home, he found discrimination at home, and would become a leader in the indigenous rights movement.

Chemical weapons were a legacy of that war, and in this August 1918 photograph during the campaign, German prisoners are seen helping wounded Canadian soldiers off the battlefield.

The war at home has particular poignancy with this shot- the news of the success of the Hundred Days and the armistice meant that husbands and sons and brothers would be coming home- though not all of them.

Another poignant moment is caught here. The funeral for Sister Gladys Wake, who died of wounds sustained in a German air raid late in the war, underscored the risk nurses undertook at the front. Her fellow nursing sisters tend her grave.

Here we have a shot from the early stages of the Hundred Days. Robert Borden, our Prime Minister during the War, is addressing troops near the front. The Canadian experience of the Great War started with the country automatically drawn into the war as part of the British empire, but led the government to press for a place on the world stage, bolstered by what Canadians did in the battlefields. 

Newfoundland during the First World War was a separate entity, not part of Canadian Confederation. But Newfoundlanders served faithfully attached to the British forces, suffering horrendous losses. Sergeant Thomas Ricketts of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment won the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Hundred Days. Ricketts was lucky; many Newfoundlanders never returned home, and the wounds of those losses weighed heavily at home for decades to come.

Arthur Currie had worked in real estate and insurance before the war and served part time in the militia. He had the distinction of starting his military career at the bottom of the ladder as an enlisted gunner before getting noticed enough to be elevated as a militia officer in 1900. The war changed him forever- he rose all the way to the rank of a lieutenant general, in overall command of the Canadians in Europe. Unlike so many generals who seemed to spend the better part of four years sending men at enemy positions in the tried and true way- Napoleonic tactics of mass infantry charges in an age of machine guns- Currie was tenacious, resourceful, and capable of adapting quickly. He is considered one of the best commanders in Canadian military history.

Some 39 000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders were wounded in action during the Hundred Days. This photograph shows some of the challenges veterans faced back home- note the missing limbs here and there. The government found themselves providing services for veterans who were dealing with disability and accessibility issues.

This last panel is at the end of the set. It features a shot of Canadian soldiers liberating Cambrai, France, in October 1918 after the retreating Germans set the city on fire. The Hundred Days ended the First World War, and in the process, like the war itself, those days changed the perspective of Canadians about themselves.